Today, while clearing out an email account, I found a page from a creative writing class I took back in 2012. I didn’t get a lot out of that class, except maybe how to recognize when a professor dislikes you, but this paper caught my eye. It was called “Dialogue with Self Critic” and is exactly what it says. Today, I want to share a bit of it with you. I’m a little embarrased, but believe the message will be worth it.
Please disregard the vaguely “Alice in Wonderland” voice it seems to have…
Fear: You’ll never make it, you know… You’ll never become a real writer. I’m afraid it just doesn’t make sense, you see.
Self: No, I do not see. Would you care to explain?
Fear: You don’t belong, my dear. In fact, you’re really quite a misfit in this world. When the rest of your schoolmates were running around playing dodgeball, you spent your time alone, plucking dead leaves off trees out in the field and playing with bugs. In all your years of life, you never fit into any of the groups, not even visible enough to be categorized at all. You are invisible, and those who are invisible will never amount to anything.
Self: Ah, but those things are exactly why I will make a good writer. I don’t fit into any one place, but have had experiences and friends in many places and groups. My friends range from strictly religious people, to a Juggalo king with family in the Italian Mafia. I’ve seen and done things differently than most “normal” people, and have crazy life dreams in my head, making an eclectic collection of ideas and many possibilities for new things to use. I am not invisible, simply translucent. I absorb all the colors around me and refract them back as rays of light. The people and world around me supply everything. I just create things with the surplus of energy around me.
Fear: You are weak! You have always been weak, and you will always be weak! How many times have you started things you never finish? And what of the times you become really passionate about something, then let that passion be washed away like sand in the tides only a week later? Not to mention the fact that you aren’t great at anything. Being mediocre at many things, but good at none of them, isn’t going to get you anywhere in life. You have no real passion, and no real talent.
Self: You’re wrong. I am passionate about a great many things, and therefore cannot choose just one. You don’t have to be great at something to write about it, but if you are great at only one thing, you can only write about one thing. That’s great for textbooks on science or language, but not for what I want to do. I procrastinate and get blocks a lot, but once I get rid of you, my fear, I will be free. Someday, I will make it, and then I will smile to myself because you will be the invisible one, never amounting to anything.
I shared this with you because I found my thought process interesting. As I read through it, I realized I still feel the same things. That same fear sits on my chest and suffocates me at will.
What I want you (and me) to get from this dialogue is this: We are not our fear. If we are able to separate fear from ourselves, we can reason through the doubt and pain, leaving only our bravery and belief in ourselves.
Consider giving this exercise a try, and let me know what you discover about yourself and your fear in the comments or email!