The Trouble With Fear

The Trouble With Fear

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a writer. From a young age I poured my heart out into my journal on a daily basis. From junior high on, I’ve been a blogger. Back in the day, the Internet was like the Wild Wild West. I wrote publicly on Open Diary, Xanga, Tumblr, and at different points, and I even had a stint posting vlogs on Youtube. All the while, I wrote in my journal and drew inspiration from those pages. Over the years I’ve blogged for different reasons and audiences, and I watched as the Internet grew and shifted and became what it is today. Somewhere along the way, I lost my voice.

I stopped journaling five years ago, and I’ve jokingly referred to this period as “the lost years.” The reasons why are complicated and varied, but it’s only in the past six months that I’ve seen how negatively it has affected me. I’ve always used journaling as the place where I could be brutally honest, the place where I processed the deepest parts of my life. Writing, for me, was a contemplative, sacred act. I knew that if I wasn’t willing to journal about something, I wasn’t truly willing to face it.

I stopped blogging two years ago. The obvious reason is because I had a baby. Becoming a mom completely undid me and caused me to question every single thing about myself. The hardest thing for me about being a mom and a creative—to this day—is the struggle to enter into “flow,” that work state where you’re just rolling and inspiration is crackling as your race to keep up. Life was so fragmented, and all I could do was the next thing in front of my face, put out the next fire. When I did get time away, it felt painful to actually engage with what was happening in my soul, so I pushed it down further. I opted to shutter parts of myself that were crying out for attention because they felt too scary to deal with. It felt easier to catch a fleeting moment of superficial peace than to dive down and fight for something deeper.

Ultimately, I stopped blogging because I stopped feeling safe. The Internet seemed so hostile. I saw lives torn apart because of a single tweet, much less a blog post or vlog. I feared that if I revealed my inner world, friends and strangers alike would judge me, and I felt too vulnerable to subject myself to that criticism. Words like audience and engagement, likes and comments, platform and SEO optimization pressured me. I felt like a cliché—another mom blogger in the Donald Miller era of Story Brand. So I stopped. I let fear rule me at the expense of my soul. The thing about following fear is that it might make you feel safe in the short run, but it will never lead you to where you want to go.

I’m trying something that feels new but that I used to know. I’m following my heart to find out where that takes me. I’m returning to this sacred practice of writing, this brave act of pouring my heart out onto the public page. I’m reclaiming my identity as a writer.