My name is Cheryll. I am a writer.
Geez, that looks weird. Sounds even weirder. But I’m practicing owning up to my God-given talents and learning how to put them to use. It’s not easy; I’m not gonna lie.
For one thing, I hate talking about myself. Ask my friends. It’s honest, genuine, please-don’t-really-ask-me-what’s-up-in-my-life because there’s absolutely no chance you’ll be entertained or amused. Call it self-deprecation, humility, above-average insecurities—whatever you call it—I’ve got it and I don’t like to talk about it.
That’s why, when I decided to get serious about writing, to start the blog, and start sharing my sometimes crazy, sometimes cockeyed perspective about things, I had to get over myself in a big way!
First step was realizing that everybody, at their innermost gut level, mostly just cares about themselves, those they hold closest, and how what happens outside their front door affects them.
There’s a lot of truth to Harry Truman’s saying, “It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose your own.” A simple switch of pronouns and, all of a sudden, life is on the catastrophic edge.
So that was Step #1. And, for the record, I’m not declaring a tragic, everyone-is-looking-out-for-number-one doomsday kind of forecast; I’m really just speaking to myself and making a simple statement of fact that’s easy to forget when we place too much responsibility on others to actually care about our life the way we do.
Step #2…yowsa. That’s the biggie. That’s where the proverbial ‘rubber meets the road’ and I had to actually take responsibility for who I said I was. That’s where my buddy Jeff Goins comes in. (Note: when I say ‘buddy,’ it’s not like we do lunch together every Wednesday; it’s more like I read his blog and books religiously and in a non-creepy kind of way, feel like I know him. Right, Jeff, ol’ buddy, ol’ pal?)
So, according to the in-yo’-face challenge of Mr. Goins, in order to actually be a writer, I had to say I’m a writer and, by golly, I needed to start acting like one, too.
Hence, my opening sentence.
Hence, the nausea, consuming self-doubt, and quiver-in-your-liver fear of rejection.
It’s new, uncharted territory for me—professing to be something I’ve long-since associated with other people—you know, real writers.
It’s not that I haven’t written—I have. It’s just that, to me, my projects seem so totally inconsequential, so easy to discount, compared to say, John Grisham, Seth Godin, and all those other names that are usually preceded by “New York Times best-selling author…”
But the crazy thing is, I see this same tendency when my friend Melissa talks about her art. Or when another friend minimizes landing a new client and a snagging a tremendous sale. Or when a new acquaintance brushes off his new personal record for last weekend’s marathon.
It’s not an ‘aw, shucks’ kind of humility; it’s honest-to-goodness self-doubt about our skills and talents and it happens because we know all the behind-the-scene ugliness and drudgery that goes into whatever we’re pursuing and all we see of other people are their stellar successes, their good hair days, and their public accolades.
And that’s why it’s so easy to assume that everyone else is real in their pursuit, but that we’re just beginners, or wannabes, or even complete fakers? We think that, because they present with confidence, they’ve got their act together and they never do battle with demons like paralyzing self-doubt. Or a terminal case of the ‘woulda, coulda, should ofs.’ Or, my favorite, ‘do-these-pants-make-my-butt-look-big(ger)’ angst.
But they do.
Promise. Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye promise.
Believe me, I know how much easier it is to stand behind the titles we’re comfortable in. For me, it’s wife, mother, friend, ghostwriter. Sometime-party-planner-to-the-stars, sometime-speaker. I’ve got all those titles and more down pat.
That brings with it so much in my mind. Publishers, contracts, deadlines, book signings. If I don’t have lots of those trappings of authorship, can I really be a writer? According to my BFF Jeff (see how I’ve escalated our relationship in just a few lines?), I’ve got it all backwards. You can’t snag a publisher, fuss over contracts, fret over deadlines, and bask in book signings until you are a writer.
And that doesn’t happen until you say it’s so.
This is true for you, too. Whatever it is that speaks to your heart, fills you up, and pushes you onward, pursue it proudly, my friend. Without excuses. Without qualifications (as in, “Yes, I did make the team, but I was the last one selected,” or “Well, I did organize the event, but really…anyone could do it.”). And without diminishing your talents and abilities.
I’ll work on it if you will…
My name is Cheryll. I am a writer.
Am I the only one who thinks it’s easier to hang on to the easy titles in our life rather than pursuing and claiming our real dreams? What? You too?