This morning I had everything planned out. I was gonna shower, clean my workspace, make some coffee, and then get to work. You see, writing has always been my dream but there has always been something standing in the way, keeping me from doing it. Maybe I didn’t have any free time left after work and I wanted to rest. Maybe there was too much studying to be done and I had to focus on my courses. Maybe I had this, that, or the other thing to worry about and writing would just have to wait. Well, not this time. This time I was gonna do it.
Except, this time didn’t happen. I sat down at my freshly cleaned desk, inhaled the vanilla scented candle that I had just lit, took a sip of coffee, and asked myself what I was doing. Before I could stop myself, the floodgates had opened. “You know nobody’s ever going to read this, right?” “None of this makes any sense! If anyone stumbles across it, they’re just gonna laugh.” “You’re just going to waste your time with this blog because you’re writing is not good enough.” And just like that, in a matter of seconds I had talked myself out of something that I had always wanted to do.
Self-doubt is something that I have always struggled with, and, unfortunately, it continues to haunt me on a daily basis. As I think back, I can name so many missed opportunities that resulted from my lack of confidence. In law school, I didn’t apply for internships because I was afraid that of not getting them. I also avoided any talk of moot-court tryouts because I just knew that I would look silly. I never submitted any of my writing for publication because I was more worried about the criticism than about the accolades. In high school, I stopped auditioning for community theatre because I was not a great actor and I thought I should save myself the embarrassment.
Everything hinges on the fact that there are people better than me, so I should save myself the trouble and stay in my bubble of safety where my feelings are never hurt. But, this is the problem. When we hide ourselves and our talents from the world because we don’t want to burden others with our perceived mediocrity then we are actually doing ourselves, and the world, a huge disservice. You see, we may think we have nothing to offer, but there’s no way of knowing that without putting yourself out there.
My writing is a work in progress. I like to think of my blog as a long, quirky journey where we pull over for random photos and focus more on enjoying the ride than on getting there on time. Although it’s not perfect, it’s mine and I have to put in the time and energy if I want to make it better. I’ve been given a lot of advice to help me on my journey, and these are three of the most helpful things that I’ve been told.
There is a Place for Everybody
When I was in high school I hated Macy Gray. Her song “I Try” had just come out and I just wasn’t feeling it. I couldn’t put my finger on it, I just could not stand her. One day, I was waiting in the auditorium with a friend before our drama club meeting began and he asked me why I hated Macy Gray so much. “I don’t know,” I shrugged. “I guess she’s okay, but she just can’t sing. She has the weirdest voice.” He thought about that for a minute and then he said, “Yeah, but just because it’s weird to you doesn’t mean that it’s not great to somebody else.”
That conversation sticks with me, because he was right. Just because you might not fit perfectly into one box doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place for you somewhere else. Macy Gray is now one of my favorite artists because of her uniqueness. If she had stopped creating her art because some random person hated her voice, then we never would have experienced her music. This is true of everyone else. Maybe you’re an aspiring writer, like myself, or maybe you’re a would-be actor, or lawyer, or politician. You might not think what you have to give is important, but I would bet that there’s someone who would want whatever you have to give.
Practice Makes Perfect
My first year of law school, I had to take a legal research and writing course. One day, we were all assigned a legal memo, and I had turned in a memo that my professor wasn’t too thrilled with. I had to meet with her in her office and during our discussion I told her that I was worried because I just couldn’t get the hang of all of this legal writing. After listening to my rant, she told me that nobody understands how to do anything when they’re just starting out and if I really wanted to improve my writing then I needed to practice.
I know people say this so much that it’s cliché, but practice makes perfect. My assignments for that course did not improve until I started working on my writing. Likewise, your favorite athletes wouldn’t be the best unless they practiced. Your favorite actors wouldn’t be great unless they honed their skill. And you won’t improve unless you actually work on that thing that you want to do so badly.
You Get What You Give
Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up one day and already be a well-known blogger and writer after one post? I mean, I can’t think of a single person who wouldn’t trade the hard work to be able to snap their fingers and instantly be rich and famous. Well, this rarely happens, and many of the writers who are successful have gotten where they are because they put in many hours of work. These people have spent many days waking up early, writing, deleting, editing, crying, writing, guzzling coffee, writing, and writing some more. They didn’t give up after one day of things not going their way, and you shouldn’t either.
I speak from experience (not with the well-known part, though. Yet.). I’ve always given up on things immediately after starting them. And as a result, I’ve never gotten anywhere. Maybe I would’ve gotten an internship if I had applied for it. Maybe I would have been placed on moot-court if I had tried out. And I have attempted blogging before. Perhaps if I hadn’t given up previously, I would be exactly where I want to be right now. Who knows? The only thing to know for sure, is that I’m not going to be successful at anything if I don’t put in the time and effort.
There’s nothing worse than waking up one day and not knowing whether or not you would have been successful or happy because you didn’t try. Maybe you’re actually not so good at writing, or singing, or whatever it is that you’ve always wanted to do. But you don’t know that at all, because you didn’t try.
Nobody wants to be that person at the bar. You’ve met him. He’s the lonely guy who sits at the end of the bar, with a sad look on his face, sipping a Bud Light, telling anyone who’ll listen what he almost did. He was almost the starting quarterback for the Patriots. He was almost in Good Will Hunting. He was almost Beyoncé’s baby daddy. He was almost a lot of things. But he didn’t go for it because he didn’t think he’d make it. Then he ended up not being much of anything. Don’t be that person. If you’re gonna do something, do it.