You are possibly as good as you can communicate. And usually as bad…
I always enjoyed writing.
I have clear memories of me, very young, when playing a “business owner role playing game” with my cousins, be always the owner of the library or newsstand (not related with an early myopia around identifying faded markets). My motivation was only because the owner was also responsible to write the books.
Later, during high school, in a pre-internet life (for you young folk, it was not invented by the Greeks 100 bc) I remember to every week to send a handwritten letter to my girl at the moment or to a close friend or to even participate in competitions and to seriously try a career in journalism.
One really important thing that you should keep in mind about life decisions involving skills: if you are by your own, aka you can’t ask for help or blame someone, make sure that you have the required skill. And not that I didn’t have the “talent”, I just didn’t have enough quality to pay for two meals a day (possibly one). This decision (and 5 years in a engineering bachelors course) reduced a lot this practice.
However, for a long time, I just decided to make them less public and to just keep everything as a private hobby. To be clear, I’m talking pure, fun, useless writing, not ppts, e-mails and all the other text manifestations that now pay my two meals a day.
Around two years ago, then I really stopped.
What happened two years ago was that I moved from Brazil to this amazing place called Australia. As some of you (I hope) know, they speak english here. More precisely a version of it that shorten and adds an “o” at the end of each word and that also starts every single phrase with “mate”.
As per a professional/life/survival decision, I took a very hard decision — I needed to suffocate the portuguese speaker that was inside me. The same guy who brought me here, the same one that loved to use complex vocabulary and that had good control of those words and that knew the right occasion to use them. A collateral effect of this situation was also to stop writing.
My english is, in most part, self-taught — thank you Lucasarts adventure games and american tv shows. That also means learning phrases from motorcycle gang members and a guy hunting extraterrestrial life, that in another words can be interpreted as “bad english”. I found my limitations as soon as my professional life started here.
Do you know the rule above about taking decisions and having skills? I violated my own rule at that point. I remember to have something that possibly reassembles a panic attack for a few times. These attacks were usually followed by a clear constatation: the suppression process would take more than just the language. It was taking who I was together and I didn’t have a replacement.
This is an acceptance and learning process. After some time you understand that you are committing personality’s suicide, you are leaving yourself behind in many ways. But do you know when you really feel fucked up? It happens in the day that you realize that, possibly, this new person who will arise from this situation cannot be the same and, possibly, will never be as good as the original was in many aspects.
Languages have their own personality and I’m assuming that this is possibly heritage from the culture behind it. I’m not saying this as a linguist/anthropologist, this is just the opinion of a guy who went through a process of transformation and today see himself as a different person just because a new language became my first.
To be clear, I think it is a painful journey to return as this new person and definitely not the beautiful story of the phoenix returning from the ashes. It’s more like a monosyllable zombie from The Walking Dead show returning from dead. You feel broken, with a bug. You want to say things that you don’t know how, use expressions that don’t make sense and to use words that don’t exist. I felt that every time I tried to write something again, never was good enough.
The personality that you took years to build, your foundation, from a moment to another, becomes useless and even irrelevant. The cult, convincing funny guy that you were is now just relevant in your old context, that in my case rarely will be my context again. You feel weak, limited, your self-esteem and confidence fade away.
Although, here I am again, writing. After all that time, today, I felt confident that I could write something. I’m also pretty confident that this is not good (or as good) as I could have written in portuguese. This text has possibly, dozens of misspellings, limited vocabulary and bad use of expressions. I made the decision to not ask to someone to review and improve, it’s all on me, I don’t want to photoshop the body imperfections of my new personality (not yet, maybe I’m hot for free).
I’m saying this because I prefer to be back to this hobby by starting honestly with myself and assuming my limitations and imperfections since the very beginning. Of course that I will appreciate any suggestion and orientation, but I first want to take some risk by myself (and possibly suffer some social judgement after doing this).
In case that you are reading this and thinking that I have a pessimist perspective of my situation my answer to you is NO, none of this is bad. I convinced myself that this is an (huge) opportunity to self-reinvention as a better man, more humble, simple and direct — and as you can see I have a long road to get there, hope that I will go further than the old guy.