I rarely begin with a title of a blog or chapter. Sometimes I actually despise the entire concept of titles.
One reason is that titles have always forced me into an uncomfortable and critical frenzy. Trying to come up with the most clever pun that is foreshadowing but not revealing. A few string of words that preface what is to come. I think that is my favorite part of my blog. I literally feel no pressure to come up with a cool title. Sometimes I start with the title and other times I write and throw in a title at the end… moments before posting the content publicly.
I think I am afraid of titles. I think I am afraid of labels. No, I don’t think. I know that I am.
On one hand I do not want my individuality and uniqueness to ever be bundled into a stereo type or sub group. On the other hand I have developed this overwhelming burden of being afraid of being “too much me”.
And this tension is exhausting. To hold my originality in the highest esteem yet to be completely embarrassed by its existence.
Let’s talk about creativity for a second. I have been a writer since 2nd grade and I have been a story teller for much longer.
Creativity, performance, and art has been in my DNA from the start. And I love it about me. And I hate it about me.
Somewhere along the line I believed my only intent was attention seeking. Spotlight grabbing.
Sure as a kid, I wanted to be noticed for anything other than my incredibly apparent physical disability. I wanted to stand out beyond what everyone else saw.
But that is just part of who I am. That is the part that reacts in fear and shame and embarrassment. My compensating self.
There is a much broader part of my creativity that has nothing to do with that desire for accolade. The larger part of me who just loves desperately the feeling of a pen in my hand and the euphoric experience of words effortlessly falling from my mind onto a paper or computer screen.
So many restless nights I have spent tossing and turning, imagining stories and turns of phrase. Sentiments to help other people know themselves like I know me.
I used to unabashedly submerge myself in the romance of Wordsworth and Keats. I dove deeply into the words of Lewis and Tolkien.
I have found myself recently and often repeating the phrase “I miss who I had been”
I assume nearly dying has quite a lot to do with it all.
With the reflection and introspection that I convinced myself that I no longer needed.
I allowed my dreams to be convoluted with my identity. So much so that it stalled me all together. But this is nothing new that I am writing about.
What is new, is the admittance of the lie that manipulated my dreams into plagues. The lie that I needed peoples’ approval to be me. That I had to dim down parts of my authentic self to accommodate everyone around me.
What is worse is no one ever made me to feel like I couldn’t be myself. It was me. Who felt like the oddball. Because of that tension I wrote about earlier. Because I could not reconcile how deeply I felt…well… well about everything. And my fear of being labeled or taken out of context. Of being assumed to be a phony.
At a certain point I decided that those closest to me “would never get me” so it is better to hide that me away.
And maybe you know me and you are thinking. “Matt, you never stopped being authentically you. Thats one of my favorite parts of who you are.”
But we look to the fruits of my hands, my friends. It is not like I have oodles of blog drafts that were never posted, or journals filled to the brim, or notebooks filled with big dream ideas.
Sure there is some of that over the years. But my canvas has a lot more un painted than filled.
I haven’t engaged with all of me for some time. There have been some bright spots in the dark for sure. But overall it has been a lot more hiding in the dark.
No one is a heavier handed critic than we will be for ourselves.
I have submitted to a false dichotomy about my options and my purpose and my calling.
My art stopped mattering to me because I couldn’t believe it ever would matter to anyone else. I believed my circumstance made my art less important.
And let’s be honest my circumstance has not been peachy for quite some years. But I would whisper to myself, Ill get back to creating next season.
Or I told myself, if I can’t create full time I shouldn’t create at all. So I didn’t. I have always wanted to write and speak, but somewhere along the way when I decided it would be my career I decided that it could only exist in that form.
Even today, I am overwhelmed by the immensity of the beast that I have allowed to take route in my heart. When I stopped engaging with my deepest self I allowed that feral part of me to grow more and more untamed and frightening. Another day removed from engaging is another day farther out. And reconciliation is scarier every day apart.
Maybe my words will never change a life. Maybe if I start a podcast it will only have 3 listeners. But I do not have a choice. I cannot go on living a half life pretending that filling my days with social media and unboiled business ideas will replace that incomparable need to create. I have to face my fears and tame the beast.
We only get one chance at this life. One life to be the best us we can be. And frankly, I am tired of playing second fiddle to everything happening around me.
I am tired of numbing myself to avoid the fullness of me. And in turn the fullness of the One who created me.
I do not care if anyone else loves what I create. I do not care if anyone ever sees what I make. I care that I love myself enough to still create.
I care that I do not let fear encourage laziness and regret. I do not care if I am ever published again.
I care that I don’t half-ass who I am meant to be. I care that I fill my tank with what lights my eyes ablaze. I care that my wife and kids know me as someone who didn’t play games and take the “easy way” out.
I do not need affirmation. I need to love myself enough to be myself even if that makes someone put a label on me.
My last small thoughts on all of this are that its two fold.
Engaging with what makes me tick.
Engaging with what spins my wheels inwardly.
Engaging with what type of fruit I am meant to produce.
Like a branch that takes in the strength of the sun and the life of water. Not every branch makes apples. But whatever I make, I want it to be good fruit.
Fruit full of nutrition and love.
I want my roots to run deep. To be full of vigor and scars and honesty and wisdom.
And maybe, just maybe I can show up totally me and maybe just maybe, someone else will learn to bloom.
By the way, this is one of those times that I wrote the content before I stuck on a title.