WHY I WRITE
As a student I was, without fail, among the bottom ten percent of the class. As a result, I naturally hated getting called on to answer a math problem or chemistry equation, because I was usually dead wrong - like, left field-wrong. Instead, I’d choose to raise my hand when I was somewhat confident in the answer, hoping the teacher would call on me, eliminating the threat of me having to answer a more challenging question later on. What sucks, is that even when I was pretty confident, raised my hand and was called upon, I STILL more often than not didn’t have the answer my teacher was looking for. Embarrassed, I’d recede back into my hole for the remainder of class, while a few classmates were surely snickering in the corner, at my expense.
My ‘bottom of the class’ counterparts, you know who you are, and you probably experienced some variation of this situation — Right?
Halfway through college I was relieved to realize that I actually wasn’t dumb - it was the material. My whole life I’d been forced to learn things that not only bored me to death, but were also, for the most part, things that I could now Google or type into the calculator on my phone. Getting to college, having the chance to take electives, and through studying things that interested me, I discovered how much I actually loved learning. I started making up for lost time, consuming knowledge everywhere I could, as long as it interested me, and it hasnt stopped — just ask my girlfriend, she’ll explain to you how I want the answer to just about everything.
Through discovering new ideas and new ways to look at the world, I can’t help but want to 'raise my hand' now to share my voice. Things have changed since the classroom; there aren’t any right or wrong answers, in a lot of ways. This can and should be a good thing, giving us the opportunity to see the world through a different, more open-minded pair of lenses. This can be scary too, especially for those of us creators, because now the person disagreeing or explaining how I could have done it better, makes it personal, whether intentionally or not. If you don’t watch out, this can take a toll on you as you put your work out into the world. You start convincing yourself that,
Maybe they’re right...OR…. Why should anyone listen to to me?
These are the trolls and the haters, but strangely, they don’t show up until you start stirring things up. When my first article went viral, the positive feedback started rolling in - one person turned into two, which turned into hundreds. Individuals felt compelled to explain to me how I had changed their lives, saved their marriages, or given them new-found hope for their careers, while at the same time, trolls began surfacing, and I kept thinking to myself,
‘It’s not supposed to work like this is it?’
They didn’t show up until I was making enough noise for people to notice, and as shitty as it can feel when they start popping up, remind yourself of what that means - it means you’re doing something right and something that matters.
For me, if speaking up results in change and making a difference, but with that comes the consequences of a bruised ego, every now and then - I’m okay with that.
Whenever possible, I try to remind myself that the trolls and those classmates snickering in the corner - they aren’t the ones with the answers, they don’t even have the courage to speak up. I’ll try to ignore them, hoping to silence and prove them wrong, but they’ll always be there, often poking their heads out just long enough to remind me that I’m doing work of which I should be proud.
The question, why do I write?
I think Maya Angelou was pretty spot on.
“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”
I write because it’s liberating and it’s free - freeing, yes, but also free, as in cheap. I write because it connects people and because a good story allows for people to escape, even if only for a few minutes which can be a really great thing. I write because it can give people hope and a new way of looking at the world — it does the same for me. I write because words are powerful, and no one is there to tell me I can’t. I write because I can.
My writing is based on my experiences and the things I’ve learned through life and about life, that are in most cases, quite universal. If one person stumbles across something I’ve written, and it helps them in their journey, who’s to say that it can’t touch and connect with hundreds, thousands or even millions of people who are in many ways just like me - walking through life, doing the best they can, while looking for some of the answers along the way.
So, yes, I write because I can, but I share it, because, honestly, I don’t really feel like I have a choice.
Thank You Gary Vaynerchuk for introducing me to Medium — Ev Williams + Greg Gueldner + Jason Stirman and co. thank you for creating a beautiful place where our writing, of all kinds, can live. You’ve given it a home and place where we can turn for a few laughs, a few tears, for some advice, or for some random knowledge we never we’d have never discovered otherwise. Above all, you’ve given us a place to connect with people who want and need these exact same things — human connection.
— Chris Hill
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