I am pretty terrified to write. There, I said it. You have no idea how many drafts of posts, documents, and notes sit on my computer. I have literally hundreds of started articles, half-written blog posts, and one-verse songs.
I’ve never considered myself a perfectionist because it doesn’t really impact any other area of my daily life. But, when I am setting out to write, the perfectionism sets in.
Maybe listing what I am afraid of will help. (At this point, I’m starting to get that feeling that I often do… “Maybe I should just save this post to Drafts and forget the whole thing.” Must press on!)
- I am constantly afraid that I will receive push back for what I say. I’m absolutely terrified, not that people will disagree with me, but that I will not be able to properly defend every possible argument that they could come back at me with.
- My response to myself: While there is some reason to be afraid of this (since it has happened to me before,) this does not mean that I should not write what I believe to be helpful and true. Just because I may not be smart enough to defend something to the Nth degree doesn’t mean it isn’t helpful and needing to be said.
- I am afraid that what I write won’t be worthy of being read. Nearly three years ago, I wrote a piece that ended up going viral. Having a piece appreciated (and hated) by hundreds of thousands of people does something weird to you. After writing it, I thought it would give me the courage to put pen to many more thoughts and ideas I had. But, the opposite has happened; I’m more paralyzed than ever. This high bar now lives in my head. “If millions don’t read this article, is it even worth writing?”
- My response to myself: Writing is for me as much as it is for you. I know I need to write to be a whole, full-functioning human being. While I do write to hopefully bring about change, I also write to solidify learnings in my own head and heart, to process through personal experiences, and to challenge myself. I may try to appeal to my fellow humans with what I write, but I can’t let that keep me from writing.
- I am afraid to write because the political and religious climate in the country I reside in is at boiling point. There are so many opinions out on the internet right now and I hate to be one more.
- My response to myself: We all have spheres of influence where we can help to make something better. I must attempt to leave my world better than I found it. I want my daughter to know that I stood up for what I believed to be right and that it actually cost me something. I can retreat into a people-pleasing cave and have many thoughts in my head that I never share with anyone else. But, I can only do that because of the privilege that I have as a white, Christian male in the most powerful nation in the world. There are many other individuals and groups that lack the power that I take for granted. It is for them and for my legacy that I must use whatever power and voice I do have to potentially generate any kind of change possible.
- I am afraid to write because there are certain Christian groups (and, thus, individuals) that have a tendency to cast others out of “the fold.” A prominent Christian leader that I grew up following even said “farewell” to another Christian leader when he questioned traditional notions of hell. This is the church world I grew up in and was helping to reproduce. If someone was teaching “heresy” then they needed to be sternly called out and dismissed as the true wolf that they were. The same is true for both scientific and political views (that latter which are really just about how we distribute power in everyday life.) I am afraid that if I publicly step outside positions I grew up with, I’ll be labeled something and hence “farewelled.”
- My response to myself: Humans have been discussing and thinking critically about our thoughts about God, science, and how the world should work for thousands and thousands of years. Heck, it was only in the last 150 years that Christians were debating whether or not slavery was good and right! So, I think we’re pretty naive if we think we’ve landed on near-perfect truth in our thoughts about God, the world, and science. We need people questioning the status quo, especially in the Church. We need humans challenging the distribution of power in our cities and especially in the Church. We need Christians calling for a better reading of the Bible and hoping to stop the historic using of the Bible for acquiring power.
In a weird way, getting these fears out helps me not be afraid of them—kind of like waking someone up and telling them about your nightmare helps you realize how stupid it really is. (The difference here is that some of these points do present legitimate fears—but the point is that even their worst outcome is better than thinking a bunch of things and never saying them.)