Should you hide thoughts from the people you love?
It’s been a long time since I’ve written.
2019 was my year of writing. I made a debut on Medium on New Year’s, with an article about self-fulfillment and productivity that was written out of increasing isolation. I found myself sharing that article with people in my life, despite a life-long habit of hiding my inner feelings.
I don’t regret that choice, but I’ve been wondering since if it was the right one.
A lot has changed for me since that article. I have a supportive significant other now, a consistent group of friends, and the opportunity to see my family in person more often. My work life is better, though often not ideal. My “real” life continues to improve, as it always should.
But my writing has stopped completely.
After months of frenzied posting, I almost didn’t believe it could happen. I often marveled at the way my brain could come up with seemingly endless ideas to post about. A lot of those ideas weren’t of a particularly high quality, of course, but there have to be some of those if you’re going to learn.
The problem wasn’t the bad posts. The problem was the good ones.
The people in my life love and accept me for who I am. I want to make that clear. There isn’t a problem with them — they express their inner worlds and thoughts clearly and honestly and have tried to teach me to do the same.
I never did pick up that skill.
There is an honesty I have with my keyboard, with my notebooks, that I may never have with a human. It isn’t that I don’t trust my family — I simply fear that they may think they see a finished product when I see a drafting board.
My family and I don’t always see eye-to-eye, but they are the most avid followers of my writing. Honestly, I’m pretty sure the pennies a month I get from Medium blogging are all from my father’s membership. He could probably venmo me $5 a month for less effort, but its not about the money.
That’s why I feel guilty that I just blocked him (and everyone else I know in the physical world) from seeing these stories.
I want to be clear — it’s not a bad experience that has caused this. Everyone in my life has been kind, proud, and accepting of my works. But I haven’t written anything in several months lately, and it’s not because the quality of my drafted posts was decreasing. I’m not embarrassed because I wrote something I’m not proud of.
I’m hesitating because I wrote something good.
“Good” is, of course, subjective, and I’m not here to arrogantly toot my own horn. It wouldn’t be a world changing post. Heck, I haven’t written in so long, no one may even notice if I submitted at all.
But I’m hesitating to hit submit, and I’m hesitating to write deeper, more challenging posts.
And that’s just not how quality writing works.
I said that my most popular post is the one written on the day of a breakup. It’s not my most thought out post, my most researched, my deepest. But it is real. It has this intangible quality that stems from being genuinely written on the day of a life event, soaked in emotion. It’s messy, but it’s true. I want to write more messes like it, works drenched in regrets and bitterness, anger and relief and hope. Emotional pieces, that help me recover, to work through problems of the past or the present.
But every time I do that, the wonderful, caring, impressive people in my life reach out looking to “fix it”.
I guess I don’t want to be fixed.
Maybe I’m just a private person. It’s deceptive, because I don’t mind at all sharing my personal thoughts and feelings in real life or on the internet (clearly). But I mind people’s reactions to it. I’ll tell you anything, if you promise to take it in stride. It’s worse with writing emotional pieces. For me, the act of writing was a release. I worked through the emotions, and they are over. I don’t want to discuss them in detail — I just did! You can certainly read them if you want to understand me, but in my inner world, that problem is over.
It’s so easy to misrepresent your true thoughts when writing. There’s always more than one side to each story, and thoughts change from day to day. We evolve mentally, but to tell a good story, you have to pick one snapshot, follow a singular thread. I might be upset about something one day, and then all but forgotten it another. I write my post for a multitude of reasons, but the act of publishing makes it seem like a defining opinion. It becomes a larger deal than it would otherwise be, and I don’t like how that colors the view of the people who know you in reality.
An internet personality can be one-note. You know that they could be different in their everyday life than how they present across a screen. Even in an office setting, people will act differently than they would in their personal life, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Just like I don’t invite my mother to work, I’ve had the feeling more and more that my family is too involved with my “professional” writing self. Too often, it seems to be mistaken for the sum of my parts, just because it’s bluntly honest about one piece.
At the end of the day, I’m finding it harder to be honest when I know my family will see it. When I know I will have to discuss it and explain every nuance to every person around me. I write in my blog like it’s my diary. It’s personal, even if it’s on the internet. I’ve drafted this article a few times, because I have trouble explaining that paradox. I don’t want to hide from my family, I’m not trying to deceive. I don’t feel like they can’t see what I’ve written.
It just isn’t adding to the experience for me. In fact, I’m letting it hold me back, because my inner writer is a lot blunter than my outward speaker wants to be.
I worry that comes off as deceptive or evasive. But even if it does, at some point I have to find a way to keep it from stopping me.