Occasionally I’m struck with an idea for an article, and moments later I’ll question myself over what right I have to be writing it.
Much of what I write seems to gravitate towards the sharing of experiences (both good and bad) that I’ve had in life. Through my writing I try and extract nuggets of worldly wisdom to share with others who might be facing the same. It’s as much about making sense of the past for myself as it is about helping others.
Regardless of the noble intent, imposter syndrome often takes hold and I start to doubt what possible value I might have to add. What right do I have to be positioning my ideas and experiences as any kind of formula for others to follow?
I don’t consider myself a credible or powerful example of much at all really, which begs the question why I’d think I can help others out when I’m still figuring it out myself.
When such doubts come up the instinct is to pull-back and to self-censor. Maybe I should tone-down what I’m saying? Perhaps I should reconsider sharing my commentary at all?
At times like this that I have to remind myself that it’s precisely because I’m so average and like so many others that the things I’ve learned might be worth sharing. Only by putting my thoughts down and out there in the world can I establish if they have merit for others facing similar struggles.
What is entirely genuine, and what gives us all the permission to share with others, regardless of our perceived status, success or stability in life is the freedom to own and disseminate our own story as we see fit.
On some level, none of us really has it all figured out, no matter how switched on, self-aware or successful we might seem.
We’re all facing the same struggles, or our own versions of them. We all have frailties, weaknesses and insecurities. We all have things that we secretly think we’re awesome at but wouldn’t dare admit to. We all have hopes, aspirations and dreams, some that we believe might come to fruition and others that we reluctantly accept are little more than pipe dreams.
What each of these has in common is that they are uniquely ours, part of us and our story, to do with as we see fit.
That in itself grants us the permission to publish them to the outside world, or to hold internally and process them for our own benefit.
When I reflect on the events of my life to-date I’m fortunate that the challenges I’ve faced and the lessons they’ve equipped me with, are relatively low-key in comparison to many. But there is no qualifying level of extremity of pain, hardship, success, failure, accomplishment or deprivation that anyone must have experienced before they are permitted to share their story.
I’ve never suffered neglect, abuse or humiliation at the hands of those who should have been sources of unconditional love and support for me. I enjoyed a happy and loving childhood and continue to rely on loving and caring parents and a wider family that I’m close with. At times though I’ve felt compelled to tackle my struggles alone, feeling more isolated and despondent than I could have imagined possible. My story, and who I am has been shaped through both the positive and the negative experiences.
I’m happily married and enjoy the love, support and companionship of a wife who is trusting, affectionate and who believes in me. I also divorced from my first marriage before the age of thirty and have raised two daughters as a single parent for alternate weeks. Between marriages I entered and subsequently escaped a toxic relationship that was in many ways more painful and scarring than the divorce before it. My story and who I am has been shaped by all of these relationships (and others besides).
I’ve been fortunate to be able to work and support myself and my family throughout my adult life. I’ve established myself in a job that I seem to be good at, through which I can deliver value for my clients. I get paid well and enjoy great working conditions along with the freedom and time to pursue my writing. I don’t have to worry about feeding my family, or whether the roof over our head could be taken away at short notice. I’ve still struggled at times to make ends meet financially. I’ve had some catastrophic failures in business ventures where my own stubbornness and bone-headed decisions threatened my stability. These experiences have all contributed to my story, who I am and what I can share with the world.
Everyone’s lives are a composite of the dark and the light. There are the happy and harmonious periods where everything is on an even keel, and then there are the times where we feel like we’re being tossed on stormy seas. Whether we choose to share our stories with the world, or to reflect on them privately in the hope to learn and grow from them is our own right. Each has the freedom to choose there is no imperative to share. Either way, our stories are formed and are there in the background
The ancient Japanese artform of Kintsugi celebrates and adorns broken pottery with repairs being decorated with lacquer incorporating gold and silver powder. The cracks and damage aren’t hidden, but instead celebrated as part of what makes the item beautiful. The process of Kintsugi is analogous to how we should treat our experiences of life, both good and bad. Some won’t be pleasant to recall, and aren’t worthy of celebration as such, but they are an intrinsic and legitimate part of our story nonetheless.
What we each deserve, and what we each owe to ourselves to do, is to take proud ownership of our stories and to accept and embrace them as part of us. These can then be shared with pride and without reservation for they are true, genuine and ours to use as we see fit.
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