Are you like me, still asking yourself what you're supposed to be when you grow up?
Or how about that nagging feeling that it's more comfortable to always wonder what might have been than actually pursuing the goal and finding out in real life?
I am sitting right smack dab in that place of insecurity right now. I was hoping you might be able to help me by giving some feedback?
For six years I've written on this blog. Over time, I began to notice little flickers of desire pestering me behind the scenes, teasing my mind as I dreamed up the next Monday Mixtape or spiritual disciplines reflection or parenting confession. The scrap of desire grew and grew and now sits on my lap almost blocking my vision every time I open a new page here at This Sacramental Life. I want to write. I want to tell stories to people who want to hear my stories. I want to craft words and paragraphs and chapters and books. I want to write.
Truth be told, I've been writing my whole life. I published a book when I was in second grade. A love story about my little brother and the little blondie who lived down the street. I also illustrated and bound the book -- a whole publishing enterprise in my gray-panelled bedroom.
In our next house, I convinced my mother not only to give me my very own bedroom (with six kids, this was no small request) but also the long, narrow walk-in closet separating my parents bedroom from mine to use as my very own office. I had a filing cabinet and a blue plastic typewriter which I used to tap out family newsletters. I majored in journalism in college. Several years ago I blurted "I WANT TO WRITE, DAMN IT" onto an entire blank page in my journal. Yet, other than this space and my kids' scrapbooks I have not really written. What is stopping me?
What stops you from pursuing what you love?
Maybe it's the season of life when half of our kids are now graduated from highschool. Maybe it's the move to the optimistic energy of Austin. Maybe it's the way I'm growing up more and more into Christ, standing up taller, releasing more and more nasty weights of unforgiveness, worthlessness, fear of failure.
To satisfy the nagging desire, I investigate books about blogs and blogs about books. I mean for years I've read the classics, Stephen King's On Writing, Annie Dillard's The Writing Life, Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. All inspirational and, on some level for me, instructional. But I know in my deepest self that I am no Annie Dillard. Certainly not of less worth than that dear woman, but definitely not given those same gifts. So I seek out a more accessible path for my tripping feet.
I discover that for every piece of palatable advice, two other pieces of advice are activating my gag reflex. What is this? An immature hubris that I can play by a different set of rules? Or a sign of a certain given intelligence that I'm called to something deeper than the Five Steps to Get Noticed. (on a sidenote: a page in a girlhood journal lists my daily plan to be noticed by boys; perhaps I should blog this list and the all-powerful Google search engines would notice me then?) Yes, I'm a bit sarcastic when I'm afraid. It's not pretty.
What is your default emotion when you are afraid?
I'm giving myself homework. One question I can't answer is "What is my niche?" I wriggle and writhe inside because I don't want to define a niche. I'm not really sure why this bothers me so much. Maybe I'm afraid my niche will be too small? Or actually not existent? That if I start nosing around, asking too many questions I'll ruin this happy little thing we've got going on here, me and you.
I squash the fear and humbly ask you. Who exactly are you sitting there reading this blog? Why do you come here? What are you hoping to feel when you visit? What kind of posts make you feel that way?
Those are my questions for today. I'm not kidding about the tribe thing, either. My mother loves to remind me of what might have been my very first art review as a preschooler, "I love Mr. Rogers because he talks to me!" For a few weeks or months I'm hoping to work out some of these questions, dreams and goals here in this space and I need some friends who will talk to me. I hope that the conversation will benefit both of us, though. That's always my hope for the words I write here.
Checking off my "Learn to Be A Blogger and Writer" checklist, one of the first recommended books I read was Seth Godin's Tribe: We Need You to Lead Us. You couldn't accuse the book of overflowing with practical nuts and bolts for people like me, but Godin deserves all the accolades he's got for being inspirational.
"Human beings can't help it: we need to belong. One of the most powerful of our survival mechanisms is to be part of a tribe, to contribute to (and take from) a group of like-minded people. We are drawn to leaders and to their ideas, and we can't resist the rush of belonging and the thrill of the new." -- Seth Godin, Tribe: We Need You to Lead Us
So that's my ask: Will you be my tribe? I promise I won't hold you to it for life, but maybe for the next few months you could join me in this conversation. To get some clarity for my own nagging dreams, yes, but we might just discover that the combined sheer genius of our discussion will surprise us. We might just discover together the thrill of the new.
Joining this tribe is super simple! All I'm asking is that when you see a blog post titled "Will You Be My Tribe" that you'll read it and answer one or more of the questions in the comment box or via email. No pinky promises, pledges or club dues required.
As a reminder, today's questions:
- Are you like me: still asking yourself what you're supposed to be when you grow up?
- What is your default emotion when you are afraid?
- An ambitious four-parter: Who exactly are you sitting there reading this blog? Why do you come here? What are you hoping to feel when you visit? What kind of posts make you feel that way?
*Thank you to the amazing Grant and Deb of GrantandDeb Photographers for the sweet picture of Brian and me I used for this post.*