Digging the Blindspots Out Of Your Hindsight
When Hindsight and Speaking Up Meet, You Become A Powerful Speaker
I can’t really remember when or why I started writing creative non-fiction, but I’m sure it was right around the time, maybe 2010, when I decided to change my college major from Mass Communications to English Creative Writing. I had taken one class, titled like so, Creative Writing, that I just fell in love with.
There were no formulas, no clicker points, no group assignment. Instead it was just go home and write, bring your copies to class, shut up and listen to the critique. The most notable piece I wrote was titled, “The Semester”. Maybe it was then, at 20 (or 19), that I was like “I should write about that crazy ass time” — referencing a crazy night of prom, 10 weeks before I prepared for college. I packed a big back TV, a book bag, and a luggage, and had $10 in my tri-fold wallet, but the plan was to leave home and go to college. That’s where the stories came from. In college, everyone is a stranger, and I found myself trying to connect with everyone through the Six Degrees of Separation formula, or just relating to them based on similar life experiences. The connection is made ultimately because we’re people.
That’s the base of your stories at 20: freshman year tales, and “Back Home” stories. You look at your teenage years and see how you developed into the person you are today. Some things are darker than others, but for the most part, you appreciate the changes. For me, I spoke up a lot more. I wasn’t the sheepish and often quiet kid who walked the school hallways with friends anymore. There were too many times I could remember that I should have said something, but didn’t. But the one message that kept resounding in me as I walked the sidewalks of that new, large university environment was from my freshman year in high school. I sat in the front, far right corner of the class, by the door in a religion class. And there, with hand raised, my teacher was surprised, he said, by the sound of my voice. After class, he said to me:
“Wow, I wasn’t expecting that voice to come out of you. You have a strong voice, I think you should always use it. I think your voice is going to take you a lot of places.”
Eery foreshadowing, right? 6 years later, I’m sitting in an office chair rolling around a college radio station studio with one of the most popular student radio shows around, pissing people off with unadulterated opinion about things “everyone else is afraid to talk about” — the Greeks (fraternities and sororities), the politics, sex, relationships, and everything under the sun. I wasn’t doing it to purposely piss anyone off (and some will debate), I was doing it because I had seen so many people position themselves in their social environments to say whatever they wanted and it looked freeing. I wanted in.
We took a knee in the weight room, as a team, in front of our athletic director after receiving our jerseys for the spring game, slated for the next day. Our athletic director, also being our coach, was in a good mood — rare, but always pleasant — and said to one our senior teammates that he hoped he’d recover from the groin injury and would have a great game because scouts were coming. The senior replied: “I just hope my groin heals so I can fuck your wife again, Coach.” In my mind I thought, how the hell does he get away with talking like that?
When you add in the ability to use hindsight to your personal growth with an ability to use your voice, I personally think you ascend to a level self-enlightenment that becomes appealing to everyone you come into contact with. We love viral life coaches, right? Why? Because they have a story, and even when they tell their own story, sometimes, they remember something powerful from that story. They dig into a blindspot they were completely unaware of, and at that moment they’re both teaching and learning at the same time. It’s like a phone updates its software, fixing bugs, expanding firmware, resetting and getting better.
That’s how I became so invested in telling stories. I accepted my past, accepted its effects on me, affirmed that I would grow from it, and made a progressive decision to hold on to the positive lesson because someone else — maybe someone not brave enough to speak up — would need to hear me say something. And maybe what I say that day, whether it be on air, in person, on Twitter, or in jest, may be something worth taking away.
Life’s Vicious Lessons will be just that. I want to give people an opportunity to hear and learn something raw, and to know that no one — even myself — is alone. Vicious Lessons will include a lot of stories, some funny, some troubling, and some written recently.