For a very long time I’ve thought of myself as a horrible writer. When teachers would assign essays, I wouldn’t put much time or effort into them, believing I wasn’t good enough. Why should I bother with something I can’t do as well as most other people?
I have always been envious of my friends and their creative writing skills. I loved reading their short stories or humorous blog posts, but I accepted it wasn’t a skill I possessed and moved on. Art was my thing and I did it well!
This semester I took an interpersonal communications class, on the first day my instructor said something that really stuck with me. “Many people believe they’re a horrible public speaker, but they’ve never even had a chance to try. You’re young, how many opportunities have you had to speak in front of a group?” I completely disagreed with this. I know what I can and can’t do, and I definitely can’t speak in front of a group of people. I get nervous and complete shut down! Although, that has only happened twice, but they’re also the only times I’ve had the opportunity. Public speaking is a skill, just like drawing, photography, and writing, it needs to be practiced and experimented with.
For someone who has enjoyed the results of most of her school essays, why would I have such negative feelings about my writing skills?
In middle school, I absolutely adored online role-playing. When I discovered it, I dove in headfirst and it quickly consumed most of my free time. I was able to work with a group of people (close friends and online) to create an exciting fantasy! What’s not to enjoy? Until I created a new account and a friend ask if it was me because “the writing was so bad”. My twelve year old self-concept was shattered. “I’m a bad writer?” “How am I different?” “Should I stop?” It was a small comment, but it was from someone I looked up to and respected at the time. Needless to say, I gave up writing. I was ashamed of everything I had contributed and felt guilty for other people having to read my “bad writing”. I wanted to never write again, and I didn’t.
Now I’m 23 years old and I still feel like I’m a bad writer. Why? Because I haven’t practiced. I’ve spent eleven years actively avoiding a hobby I could have enjoyed and developed as a skill, but instead I decided to dwell on a silly comment from a fellow 12-year-old. It kept me from doing something I enjoyed, because I was ashamed of myself for even trying. I didn’t want to be rejected again.
Our self-concept is subjective, though. A past failure or success doesn't necessarily predict future failures and successes, so we shouldn't base what we can or can't do from past experiences. If you keep an open mind and realistic expectations for yourself and possess the will and skills to change, you can do anything!
So this is my image to say I can do what I want! I am good enough. I deserve to engage in activities I enjoy! I’m going to allow myself to be vulnerable and put myself back out there! I’d love to encourage everyone to do the same. The only person who can hold you back is yourself and you deserve the opportunity to be happy doing what you love.