I’ve only recently felt I deserved to claim I am a writer. It’s a tenuous claim, because when people ask what I write, I tell them I write a blog. Many people dismiss this as not really being a writer, because technically anyone can start a blog.
Then they ask what I write about. Here’s where I wither and surrender my claim of being a writer. I don’t know how to answer. I’ve stammered various versions of the following: I write about doing hard things. About being brave. About living authentically and vulnerably. I write about life and people and connections.
And this is when no one believes I’m really a writer–my topics suck and are anti-captivating. I mean really–I can’t even explain it coherently, how on earth can I be a writer when I can’t even be an explainer? I think they think it’s more of a personal journal of my life that’s made public because I write about random kid stories, sexual assaults, dating, running, brain injuries and dancing. So I feel compelled to throw out a feeble footnote to save the conversation–that one day I may compile my essays into a book.
I am so lame, I think. I wonder if I should stop telling people I write. Because I don’t write in the hopes of publishing a book. I don’t write for fame or accolades. I don’t write to keep people updated on my life. I don’t write to over-share. I don’t write because I’m a writer. I write because I’m a Connector and Validator.
I’ve come to realize this is my calling in life. A second career, if you will. A Storyteller who Connects. Connects the dots that are events and thoughts into my version of Truth, and then I connect those musings to you. And then Reader #1 is connected to Reader #2, and so on. I find great meaning in knowing that some stories, not all my stories, but some stories, sit snugly in your heart and resonate in your soul. Not forever, but for a bit. And some stories fit more snugly than others. But at the end of the day, through a Connection, a difference was made somewhere in this world.
I write to validate. So that you know I hear you. I see you. We walk around fearing, thinking, “I’m the only one who…It’s just me who…” Nope, sorry, you’re not that special. In that way at least. You are special in so many other ways. And we’re special together. But I can hear you. I can see you. And through my stories, you can see parts of yourself in me. And I in you. And we validate and connect. Just the way we are.
I’ve come to realize writing is merely an extension of who I am; my life’s work is really just being me. When old friends ask what I’ve been up to lately, all I can think to say is, “I’ve been busy loving people and connecting with people and being kind to people.” This hasn’t always been the case–I did not used to like people.
This past year I’ve had several friends in various stages of crises. I hope I’ve been a good friend and have been there for them in their times of need. I hope I’ve been their soft landings when needed, and the person to shut down Pity Parties when After Hours drags on too long. I’ve come to realize my friends feed my soul, and connecting with them and validating their pains and strengths and courage feeds my soul. I’ve come to realize creating and nurturing connections, and seeing and hearing and validating people, feed my soul.
My neurologist and I have elevated our relationship now to a different plane. He’s an egotistical bastard who thinks he’s always right. Problem is, he usually is when it comes to his professional work, so this is a reinforcing dynamic. Fortunately for me, he is usually right, and it looks like my head is finally starting to improve (cross fingers here). I told him at our last appointment how much he has meant to me, how no one else would listen to me, and finally, after 18 months, I felt heard. We started talking about his work, his long hours, his frustrations with the medical field and health insurance and his hours and his patient load and his mortgage and his kids’ college tuitions and his passions for creating art and his dreams and what is important to feed his soul and just how hard all of that is. We discussed my current treatment plan and my next appointment time. And when I left, he shook my hand. And hugged me. I mean hugged me. I knew then, he had not been heard or validated in a very long time. He has made my head feel better, and I have made his heart feel better.
I build connections. I validate. I’ve come to realize that’s really all I want to do in life. I’m an aspiring Dot Connector. So maybe when people ask me what I write about, I ought to say I write about connecting dots, and that I share my stories to share myself to the friends I know, and friends I have yet to know.
What do you think? What would you say I write about?