Growing up, I always LOVED volleyball… but I wasn’t very good (at first). All my friends would have posters of volleyball players, motivational stickers with volleyballs on them, volleyball merchandise, etc… I never bought one thing with a volleyball on it. I guess I thought that, to love something that much, you would have to be pretty good at it, right? I didn’t want to put posters on my walls and then feel like a poser If I wasn’t any good.
If people asked me if I played volleyball, I’d say “I try” or some other weak, noncommittal response. I actually didn’t really want anyone to know that I play volleyball. Because the first thing they ask is are you any good. And then what would I say?
I loved to draw, paint and sculpt in high school, but I would never have considered myself an “artist.”
I loved to brainstorm, tell stories and write in college, but I would never have considered myself a “writer.”
I even loved learning about other languages and took 4 years of french in high school and tested in to a 300-level french class in my junior year of college, but I would never speak french in front of anyone, let alone admit that I knew french.
What’s my problem? Shyness? Fear? That’s it. It’s fear. I was afraid to put myself out there. To be vulnerable and open myself up to possible criticism.
I even switched majors several times, because if I wasn’t excellent at something, then maybe it wasn’t for me. (Looking back, I wonder what it is that college counselors REALLY do.).
I chose Marketing after spending two years on a Graphic Design path. I figured that I’d have more career options when I graduated. I considered myself to be pretty creative, but I thought I sucked at writing. Sure, I could put big words in big sentences, but the biggest criticism of my writing was “NO VOICE.” I had no voice. At the time, I’m not really sure I knew what “voice” meant in (for example) a research paper about Women’s Suffrage.
When I graduated, I found a place in Integrated Marketing Communications. Small parts of my job consisted of writing and it was so DIFFICULT! I’d spend hours on a press release only to have it handed back in a bloody mess. It was discouraging. At the time, I didn’t want to admit to being a writer. If I admitted to being a writer, then people expect me to be good at it. And I sure wasn’t.
Of course you know what comes next. I worked super duper hard and now I’m awesome! Well, sorta. Through writing about what might be some of my least favorite topics (however, not worse than say, poop). I did become a stronger writer. And with that, came the confidence.
In fact, I can now probably say that “I’m a writer.” Ok, I do say “I’m a writer.” And others would say it too.
I. Am. A. Writer.
There, that feels good. Maybe I’ll should go put some posters of copywriters on my walls.
PS. I’m a pretty damn good volleyball player, too (Look at me! I’m growing).