Writing Life

Living an Authentic Writing Life

May has always been a season of farewells for me. There’s high school and college graduations. Summer internships abroad. Wherever I go in my life, I must say farewell to someone, somewhere, or something.

Friends. College. Homework.

Once I say goodbye, there is an irrepressible feeling of loss. I have one more semester left at my university this fall, and now that summer is coming, graduation is looming nearer, much like a shadow growing with the light. I’m excited for summer, of course. I have an exciting grant writing internship lined up, I’m living out of home for the first time, and I’m living close to friends.

But there are people to whom I must bid farewell—those who are graduating, for instance, or my beloved English, theology, and literature teachers. And it is those goodbyes that are ripping me apart.

I Wish I Had Stayed

Recently, I went to a senior English major party where many seniors from the English Department partied before Finals Week. There was no sense of foreboding, or even weeping over grades. We simply talked, ate French silk pie, and socialized. It warmed my heart to be in their presence, to listen, to interact with people I regard as family.

There came a point where I needed to leave early in the party because my carpool could only stay for two hours. My driving friend told me I could stay for the rest and she would head back. Someone from the party could drive me home. Despite this, I felt awkward in that moment about asking someone, so I just gave up and left early.

The sense of regret when I returned to campus was overpowering. I could have stayed longer, I could have asked for a ride, stayed until the party bonfire was over. I only got to see them once every blue moon. And when would the next time be? Next week was finals. We would either be graduated or headed home, far away across state borders.

Leaving this gathering made me remember a heartbreaking fact: College brings people together. Summer breaks them apart.

With that came the crushing realizations: I’m leaving for summer. And so are they. Summer is coming. Graduation is next semester. I’m not ready.

And the worst of them all: I wish I had stayed.

Living Authentically Without Crushing Regret

Too many of my regrets begin with “I wish I had…” Too many for me to count on two hands, or three, or four. I’m a perfectionist, and I’ve regretted everything in my life at least once, from academics to relationships to my faith and my personal writing life.

For so long I’ve lived in a world of regret, with the fear that I won’t take opportunities as they come.

And here’s the truth: I’ve never given myself the grace of my own forgiveness.

I rarely say:  It’s okay when you fail, when you don’t meet the deadline or the word count. It’s okay when you don’t walk those daily steps. When you bomb that interview. When you’re rejected.

But I’ve decided to change that this summer.

In looking at this blog, you might notice my subtitle, “Living an Authentic Writing Life.” Something I’ve learned in my years at college is that people are hella messed up and broken, and nobody likes to talk about it. Our lives are filled with Snapchat and Instagram filters, screens that hide how utterly shattered we are on the inside.

We live on mountains built of pretense, of lies we tell others and lies we tell ourselves. We hide our broken families, our quirky personalities, our embarrassing scars—all in the attempt to project some semblance of perfection.

For over twenty years I’ve constructed my mountain on the pretense that everything is okay, and it took four years of college for me to finally tear apart those words, to shatter that mountain, and accept that everything is not okay.

My family isn’t perfect. I make mistakes. I’m wrought with obsession and regret. I hold onto anger, and I’m flawed. Not everyone will like or love me. I’m beyond imperfect.

And I’m accepting that. Accepting my own brokenness as part of my identity is a key for living my life authentically, especially in writing, with as little regret as possible.

No more I wish I had.

I wish to live. I wish to read books and write books. I wish to inspire others. I wish to inspire myself.

Most of all, I wish to forgive myself for regret. In this season of farewells, I want to know regret is there and kiss it goodbye.

So I’m going to blog consistently on books and my writing life—and tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way. This blog will become my journey as I explore what it means to be an authentic writer grappling with brokenness.

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