In my 20’s I wanted to change the world. Armed with the naivety and fresh enthusiasm that every student graduates with, I too wanted to create something — a lasting impact. It didn’t seem like an impossible dream back then; instead, it was the only one worth having.
I’ve always prided myself on the fact that I know myself well. That I have a certain degree of heightened self-awareness, and that is a tool at my disposal.
Knowing what I want and being passionate about it would make a massive difference in my professional life. It would give me a much-needed edge — a push, if you will, over my peers in a lifelong journey of success.
Little did I know how the next decade would look like or how my worldview would be turned over its head.
Personal and Professional hardships plagued me throughout this time, and I kept waiting for the things that didn’t kill me to make me stronger. I tried different variations of the same thing again and again while blaming life for being all too hard.
I kept going till I was no longer sure that I would actually come out on the other side, and I finally paused to take stock of things.
Amidst some of the worst moments of my life, an idea was born. It then blossomed to change my mission, which was now to focus on myself. Before I moved further ahead, I needed to get to know myself, learn to really listen to my inner voices, and heal myself.
I needed to accept myself for who I was and stop trying to be the person everyone wanted me to be— worse, the one I thought I needed to be.
I needed to find my true passions and live my life not by avoiding negatives but by pursuing constructive goals. The world would simply have to wait.
I started writing in May 2019 with a single and simple goal in mind — I wanted to share my story.
When I realized the cold hard truth, that at 27, I didn’t really know who I was, what I was doing, and why I was doing anything, it demanded a drastic and dramatic change.
I wanted to reclaim my story, my experiences, my version of events. I was going to take control. I wanted to write my truth and share my learnings with the world as I thought we could all use some of it — a bit of honesty.
I’ve always wanted to write but never did. I was restarting my career at 29, while others in this field had at least a decade of experience. But, I was done beating myself up for not believing in myself enough and repeatedly told myself that now was as good a time as any.
Most writing advice, especially regarding online platforms, says that you shouldn’t write for yourself; they call it one of the bigger mistakes.
But, I ask, if not for myself, then who should I write for?
If I don’t connect with the article, if it’s not made up of my intimate adventures, if it doesn’t churn the wheels inside my mind, navigate its depths and dualities, then why write at all?
I get that there are different types of writing. There are various issues and viewpoints to cover when writing for a magazine, newspaper, or publication.
And there, one needs to meet the demands of the situation and keep personal biases in check. Some pieces may require private sharing of stories, but generally, content is written keeping the reader and their interests in mind.
But when you want to start writing, after creating a profile on a popular platform, and are brainstorming subjects to write about, is there a better place to start than yourself?
While finding my feet as a writer, I found it surprisingly comfortable to write what I know, what only I could know. My life served as an endless resource.
I looked at the ideas that swirled in my head and learned to catch the sparkly ones. I took adequate time, thought deeply about it, and jotted down points that listed the learnings and experiences I wanted to share.
This formed the backbone of my pieces and also allowed me to spend quality time with myself. Every spark went on to construct its own unique story.
Each article I penned helped me dig deeper, have fresh realizations, and understand the subject and myself better, in ways I couldn’t have imagined before. And to say that it was therapeutic would be an understatement.
Having said that, writing about your life can pose some challenges. Here, I have gathered together the lessons that I’ve learned in the past two years. They have helped me ease through this composite process.
- Comfort is key. Never push yourself to write about a topic you aren’t entirely comfortable sharing or aren’t done fully exploring yet.
- Before you start writing, however catchy the subject may seem, take ample time to think about it. Ask yourself, how much of it can you share now? Remember, “nothing” is a totally acceptable answer.
- No topic is less important. I’ve written articles about my identity crises in my twenties and how some makeup products give me the heebie-jeebies. The latter is not a frivolous topic because my experience matters to me.
- When you write with feeling, anything can gain significance. Remember, what is simple to you can be exactly what someone needed to hear today.
- Learn to explore individual emotions, ideas, and streams of consciousness. When you start rationalizing every thought you have and drive it to a conclusion, you will find that you have nothing to write about. You could probably sum things up in two lines.
- Instead, stay with it, explore it, let it run its course. Go on a journey with your idea, and you will be pleasantly surprised at your findings.
- Experiment with different genres. Don’t limit yourself to one box, and learn to express your thoughts through versatile mediums.
- Take humor, for instance, which has helped me immensely in exploring topics that I was previously uncomfortable with. My style is dry, satirical, and honestly a means of releasing some steam.
- Give your own twist to the genre you choose, don’t listen to the “rules” initially, and try going at your topic from a different angle.
- Don’t let doubt stand in your way. Whenever I start writing about a topic, self-doubt rears its ugly head and asks me, “Are you sure you know what you’re talking about? What if you are totally off?”
- In such moments, remind yourself that you have had the experience, learnings, and realizations, and no one can take that away.
- You may have some ways to go, but your journey so far could benefit someone else. It could help them in taking their next step.
Writing about my life has not only helped me in my cause of telling my story but also has, in turn, added to the story of my life.
My journeys of self-acceptance, discovery, and love have been vastly more successful. Experiencing moments in my life has become more meaningful, as now it’s fodder for my art, and I’ve never felt so one with myself.
The state of flow I enter while I write is meditative and deeply reflective. It also helps me make sense of things better.
I’ve realized that if I am comfortable thinking about a topic and can let my thoughts run free without judgment, I am also keen to write about it.
My realizations motivate me to share my newfound truths with others. Even if it doesn’t directly help someone, I am pretty sure that it would encourage them to take inward journeys and stick with the course of problem-solving. If nothing, it will give them hope.
Such an intrinsic reward built into my work helps lessons the blow of low stats. The journey from the start to the end of a piece makes me feel complete as well. And even more sure of following my passion.
I generally refrain from doling out generic advice, but here, right now, I cannot stop myself. I would like to encourage every writer out there to learn to write about themselves.
Write about whatever you are comfortable with, maybe the disappointing online shopping you did last week or your private Pandemic reflections, but present the accurate and complete version of it.
As a reader, I fervently believe that sharing honest stories with real emotions will help both you and I feel a little less lonely, more heard, and heal ourselves from the constant negativity that engulfs us.
Let’s take a step in this direction today.
Set aside an hour, just for yourself, and write your heart out. Learn to write for yourself — about yourself, and then share a version of it with others, if you can. I and many others will be here waiting.