Can I be honest with you?
Writing is scary for me. It’s scary for a couple reasons. First of all, I’m always afraid I’m going to run out of things to say. Second, I’m afraid when I do have things to say people will either not like me anymore because of what I think, or they will think I’m stupid for doing this blog thing.
That last piece is probably the most prevalent thought.
Every time I post, I have these little trolls in my head that tell me things. (Not literally, guys. Relax.) These trolls are the perceived voices of the people who will see my work. The trolls say things like:
– “This has already been said a million times, you are so unoriginal” or
– “What you have said is wrong and I don’t like you” or
– “Who do you think you are to write? Nobody cares what you have to say. You should be embarrassed” or, most frequently,
– “Stop trying to make fetch happen, Gretchen.”
Sometimes these trolls shut me down. Sometimes they succeed in getting me to stop writing, to shut the laptop and walk away from it and not say what I think. Most of the time they just have me craving, over and over, someone to tell me it’s okay I’m doing this. Some of these trolls have names – people who have said hurtful things to me in the past, people who have made fun of me or criticized me. Criticism sticks in your brain and echoes long past the person who made the (often unintentionally hurtful) comment has forgotten about it.
So a lot of days I want to quit. But then I think about people like my friend Rachel.
I used to work with Rachel, many years ago. We both worked in the creative department at my home church. She was wonderful to work with and I shared many secrets with her in that office. After a couple years, she left that job and sometime later I moved to France.
A few years back, I saw Rachel post on Facebook that she was starting a photography business. She set up a website and created a price list and started posting images she had shot. She started booking weddings and senior portraits and everything between.
I have a lot of friends who have started photography businesses or who have offered photography services off and on. It is a saturated market, especially since the rise of the digital market and the accessibility to high quality cameras. It would have been easy for Rachel to think the way I do sometimes – what’s one more photographer in a sea of them? What’s one more blogger? What do I have to offer that no one before me has? What right do I have to take up space here?
And yet she went for it. And over the last few years she has become a sought after photographer, featured in various publications and online contests. Her work is her passion. And not only does she shine in the market, she is quick to share others’ work and bring other women along with her.
Rachel is someone I think of often when I feel stupid for ‘going for it.’ She is someone I mentally reference when I think people might be judging me for trying something I love. Maybe people judged her. Maybe people were skeptical. But she dug in her heels and did what she loved and years later she is killin it. She didn’t quit. She wasn’t shy about being proud of her work. And her business has grown and her work is gaining respect.
A lot of things I want to do die before they ever leave my brain because I am afraid. I’m afraid of what people will think, mostly. I’m afraid I will try and fail. I’m afraid I’ll give it my best shot and it will be laughably bad. I’m afraid I will run out of steam. But what I’m learning is that if I find joy in what I do, those trolls become quieter. I find joy in writing. I find joy in speaking. I want to do those things not because everyone thinks I’ll be so great at it, but because something inside me needs out, and writing is how it gets out.
For years I didn’t write much at all, and I’m not sure what was stopping me. I’m finding so much joy in it. I thought there wasn’t enough room for me, but what I’m finding is, there’s room for everyone. I get to take up space here. This is mine too.
And listen here. I’ve posted about this a couple times on social media and EVERY time, someone messages me outlining something they’ve been wanting to do but they just can’t bring themselves to do it. So here’s how you move forward:
1. Don’t listen to the trolls. They don’t know.
2. Just do it.
3. You just made an excuse didn’t you? Stop doing that. Just do it.
Have your day one. Move forward into what your passion is. Take a risk. Learn from my friend Rachel – if you never put work out, it’s 100% guaranteed no one will like it, because no one will ever see it. But if you take the risk, some people will like it, and they’ll be encouraged to move forward into their own passions because of your bravery.
Take the risk. Commit to your passion. We’re all waiting to see what you have to offer.