Ode to the Girl

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She was a late bloomer.

When the other girls wore mascara in 7th grade,

she zipped up her favorite hoodie and wondered why.

(She looks back on pictures now and knows why.)

But she didn’t care.

She wanted her books and her music and her laughter,

not the attention of a prepubescent boy.

Some people said she “just did her own thing,”

which some people said as a compliment,

and other people didn’t.

She wasn’t the It girl in high school.

She didn’t draw attention to herself,

she watched the quintessential high school drama unfold

but still she just

did her own thing.

And that was okay.

But she did bloom, the shy bud.

She bloomed into herself.

While she wasn’t the one that all the boys chased after,

she had a beauty of her own that lay beneath the skin.

If anyone were to wade into

the deep waters of her mind,

they’d see a rare loveliness

not found in many girls her age.

But sometimes those deep waters were rough.

And dark.

Her thoughts would crash against the rocks

and she would

doubt.

She doubted her beauty, her goodness, her worth.

She would wilt under the stress of the world

and the power of other’s words on her soul.

She started to feel

Different

and she didn’t like it.

The soil beneath her was rocky. She couldn’t thrive.

Until one day,

she realized

that if she wanted sunlight

she had to be the sun.

She couldn’t count on anyone to tell her what she was

(or what she wasn’t.)

If she needed rain, she would be her rain,

and she’d dance and laugh in the storm.

And

she

bloomed.

More radiant than before,

with that same deep beauty

that takes time

to bloom.

Wildflowers pop up

and disappear

in a day.

They’re pretty, but that’s it.

She was an orchid,

priceless and patient.

When she bloomed, people noticed.

Instead of plucking her,

they admired her

and nurtured her

so she would grow

brighter.

And like the orchid,

she bloomed alone,

not among a field of poppies.

They wondered how she did it.

She smiled and said,

“I just do

my own thing.”

a. w.

 

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How Do Christians Deal With Demons?

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I’ve had nightmares before, but this one was different.

I was laying in bed and I knew I was sleeping because I couldn’t move. I could only watch. My head was facing my window and my nightstand, and I knew someone was sitting there even though I couldn’t see them. They didn’t say anything. Suddenly my mattress started moving by my head, like someone was violently tapping on it.

I vaguely remember hearing someone say something, along the lines of, “I’m here, and there’s nothing you can do about it,” followed by laughter (and certainly not happy laughter.) I knew I was dreaming because I followed it into the kitchen, which didn’t look like my kitchen. I tried to tell it to go away, but my voice didn’t make a sound. All I heard was laughter. I slept fitfully for the rest of the night.

I forgot about it the next morning til I got to work, then it hit me. What a strange dream. In the days leading up to it, I had an uneasy feeling. It seemed as though me and my roommates had been on edge. I texted my roommate and told her about my dream, and she said she’d had a similar one – someone who wasn’t there had said her name.

Okay. Something was up.

My mind started to race and I started to panic. I’ve seen movies like this. We’re all going to end up going crazy. We’re going to be consumed, possessed. It’s going to be violent and bloody. The exorcism scene from the first Conjuring movie stuck out in my head.

I took a deep breath. I remembered Whom I serve. And the darkness has no power over Him. I went home after work, walked through my apartment, prayed in each room, and then stood in the center of the living room and commanded in the name of Jesus Christ that the demon leave and never return.

I’ve slept like a baby every night since.

I can’t be positive that my apartment was actually occupied by a demon. When I pitched the possibility to my roommate I felt like I sounded crazy. But she also felt pretty certain about it for a number of reasons. I can be positive, however, that my roommates and I are protected by the blood of Jesus. We can’t be harmed by demons, as much as they might try.

About a year ago I read a book called Spiritual Warfare by Karl Payne, a must-read for any Christian who has questions about the supernatural – which, honestly, should be all of us. It opened my eyes to the realities of spiritual warfare in the present day. We read several stories in the Bible about demonic possession, but they seem so far removed from our slick 21st Century lifestyle, governed by safety and certainty. Illnesses are diagnosed and medicines are prescribed. Criminals and murders are deemed clinically insane and locked up. Happenings that are nothing short of miracles are chalked up to coincidence.

I remember a part of the book where Dr. Payne talked about how he discussed it with other pastors. The pastors got a deep look of fear in their eyes and said, “but Karl, what if they get you?”

That goes to show how much the modern church doesn’t know about demons and possession. We’ve been shown by Hollywood that demonic possessions are violent, gory, and usually don’t end well. Ed and Lorraine Warren, the famed exorcists of the mid century, have books and websites and recordings dedicated to their extensive and often disturbing exorcisms. (Seriously, read Dr. Payne’s book – it’s an eye-opener into how these are extremely uncommon exorcisms.)

Dr. Payne specializes in exorcisms, but he thinks it’s a shame that pastors – and laymen Christians – don’t dedicate more time to understanding the supernatural. I’m focusing on the “bad” supernaturals here, but that also goes for the good. Where there are demons, there are also angels, and the Holy Spirit, a supernatural being, which is present in all Christians. Dr. Payne’s first “exorcism” was when he was very young. He went to his neighbor’s house and when he asked his neighbor’s name, the man gave a different name than his own, and knew that whomever was speaking was not his neighbor. Some freaky stuff went down, and a few weeks later his neighbor disappeared. (Again, read Dr. Payne’s book to get a better understanding of a true exorcism. He says not to address the demon specifically, which will avoid the chaos that the Warrens often talked about.)

I know I sound crazy. I sound crazy to myself talking about it, but I firmly believe that there is a war going on around us, and that war became personal to me recently. Something was trying to attack me and my roommates. And I’m not trying to toot my own horn saying, “got rid of it.” I had nothing to do with getting rid of it. I could have shouted alone in my apartment all day and nothing would have happened.

Demons don’t have to obey me, but they do have to obey the Lord. And any believer who confronts a demon in the name of Jesus will be freed.

I hope this helps if you’ve been struggling with this as a Christian. It’s kind of a specific thing, but if you’ve been feeling oppressed or surrounded by negativity recently, I wouldn’t rule this factor out.

Remember: you do not have to be afraid. You cannot be harmed by a demon if you are a believer. It’s definitely a scary thing to think about (you think I don’t want all my lights on at night after that dream?) but you can rest knowing if will be handled.

Guys, this is 100% real. I have heard well-respected pastors speak on and write about this subject. We need to be real and realize that we’re not alone in this world. But we’re also not alone in the fight. Let’s keep this conversation going, and march forth without fear with the light of God to guide us.

a. w.

6 Ways to Love An Anxious Girl (and How She Will Love You.)

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If you spend time with human beings, you know what anxiety is. Some people just deal with baseline worries and stressors, while for others, they worry daily whether or not they’re a head case. Anxiety is real. It has many definitions and wears many masks. For some people, they feel it when they’re in a plane. For others, they lay awake at night crying uncontrollably for no particular reason. Anxiety is diverse.

People with clinical anxiety can be difficult to love. Not because they’re unlovable, but because they’re…anxious. Whether their anxiety is environmental, behavioral, or hereditary, something causes them to overreact, overthink…and over-protect themselves. As a woman who struggles with anxiety, I sometimes feel like I’m impossible to love – I’m too much to handle, I overreact too quickly, I’m too clingy and needy. Just the other night, I went over to a friend’s house for pizza and when texted and didn’t hear from them, I panicked and almost left because I thought they were ignoring me. (Turns out, their phone was in their car.) They apologized profusely but felt guilty. Anxiety is very self-focused. am a burden. cause all this damage.

If the one you love struggles with anxiety, I have a few pointers for you, based on how I’ve heard my female friends talk about their anxiety and how I’ve dealt with mine (sometimes in the wrong ways.) These small things go a long way for someone who often feels like they’re out of control.

1. Don’t baby her. If she opens up to you about her anxiety, she’s not asking for special attention or for you to treat her a different way. She just wants someone to hear her. It doesn’t mean you have to protect her from anything that might make her anxious. She wants honesty as much as everyone else, even if it might hurt her. It’s not about hiding bad things from her, but communicating them to her in a way that she can process rationally (for example, do not text her: “We need to talk later.” Talk now or don’t say anything about it.) She does not want special treatment. That will embarrass her. 

2. No “fixing.” Just presence. When she talks about the things that make her anxious, she doesn’t necessarily want you to make them all better. Again, she just wants listening ears. You can bet that someone has preached to her before old cliches like, “Calm down! Don’t worry! Look at all the good things in your life!” She wants to look into your eyes and let her feelings out, and she wants you to be open and honest with your feelings too. It’s okay to just say something like, “Wow, that really sucks. But I’m here for you, okay? What do you need?” She is not a problem to be solved, but a person to be loved. 

3. She will love the little things. Anxious people don’t like being the center of attention. A grandiose display of affection is not what she craves. Bringing a huge bouquet of flowers to her at work or decking her car with balloons might give her a heart attack. A good morning message, a note in her car door, or a quiet dinner at home will make her heart soar. Remember, she wants your presence.

4. It’s not you. If she’s quiet or distant, it’s probably not your fault. Never assume that it is because that can lead to murky waters. Ask her what’s wrong. She might not be great at expressing her thoughts, but she does want you to know. It’s okay to ask, “Have I done anything that has upset you?” She will (probably) quickly tell you no. But if it is something that you’ve done to upset her, she will want to talk about it. Just remember, she may not be great at voicing how she feels. (Usually in an anxious person’s mind, it’s always their fault.) She wants to communicate, but remember her brain is going a mile a minute. 

5. Encourage her daily. This is a good practice for any relationship, not just with an anxious person. If she’s going through a stressful time, remind her how special she is to you. Tell her that she is doing so well, accomplishing so much. Be her cheerleader. Remind her that she is strong, hold her hand and pray with her. She will do the same for you.

6. Be patient. It’s not always going to be easy. People with clinical anxiety are at constant war with their minds. Some days there’s a truce and she may seem weightless and jovial, the next she may be paralyzed and reluctant to talk. It’s not because she doesn’t love or care about you. It’s probably because she’s scared that her anxieties will become real. Be patient. Sit with her, give her your time and your presence. She loves you fiercely but feels like she’s fighting a losing battle. She wants you fighting alongside her, not at odds with her.

Remember: she’s going to make mistakes, just like anyone else. Sometimes relationships can’t survive mistakes, and that’s okay. Those mistakes may be amplified in her head and she might think everything is her fault, despite how irrational that is. I’ve made lots of mistakes when loving people, and it’s easy to be held hostage by all of the things that went wrong. In all honesty, if you toy with her anxieties or totally ignore them, you will eventually lose her.

A wise friend once told me that relationships are rarely 50-50. Some days they’re 60-40, or even 80-20. Each person has different needs, and some days they have more needs. But one thing I can tell you about the Anxious Girl: she is always fighting, even if you can’t see it. On most days, she is her own worst enemy. She wants you in the ring, not facing off with her, but standing beside her and pumping her up for the fight.

And she’ll be there in your ring, too.

a. w.

Who Do You Say That I Am? (and Who Do You Think You Are?)

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You’re not who you think you are.

Isn’t that a scary thought? The person that you’ve always envisioned yourself to be, however close or far from the truth, isn’t who you think you are. Who you think you are is simply that – who you think you are.

Humans are good at this by nature. We like to think that we are innately good people. I’m sure that the “bad” or “annoying” people in your life don’t think they’re bad or annoying. People don’t tend to think that way about themselves (unless they’re wallowing in self-pity, which is an entirely different blog post.)

I mean, Hitler thought what he was doing was “right” in his own mind. That’s a bit of a drastic example, but it’s true. Think about politicians in general – they’re great at this. However they are portrayed to you on a TV screen, whatever news you read about them, they usually think that their values and perceptions line up with the way things should be. And you may disagree, because your perceptions are different. You may percieve them as selfish or out-of-touch. And with so many scandals popping up in the news recently, it’s easy to distrust anyone who claims to have authority. Because they’re not who we thought they were.

So why do we construct who we think we are or should be in our heads? Because it’s only natural. Self-perception is innate and comes from a variety of feedback we recieve from the world around us. People tell you you act like your mom – you percieve yourself as being like your mom. Pop culture tells you that blondes are dumb – if you’re blonde, you might percieve yourself as dumb. You might take on traits and characteristics based on feedback as well, in order to enhance your self perception. Girls your age dye their hair, so you do too, et cetera.

But it’s still not who we are. It would be too easy if that’s all there was to it. We would constantly be morphing, becoming different people based on who we think we are when we wake up in the morning (haven’t you ever gotten out of bed wishing you were someone else?) Change is a bit slower than that and it’s often hard to see until further down the road. People do change, but usually not into their ideal self-perception.

So where do we find who we are? We can’t always say we are our job. Our job may change in the next few years. We can’t always say we are our family. Our family isn’t going to be around forever, and bigger influencers may come into our lives as we grow up. It can’t be a dollar amount, or a spouse, or a child. It can’t be a degree, or a vehicle, or a brand. We can use these things to fluff up who we think we are, to project ourselves to the world. But all of these things are finite.

It’s a natural, human thing to adapt and project. The truth is, we are born with holes. We try to fill these holes with different things, things I’ve mentioned before: a job, a spouse, a success story; or possibly you try to fill it with more incendiary things like drugs, alcohol, and reckless sexual exploits. These things might fill you for awhile, but that hole can never quite get filled. We’re like broken jars: whatever we put in, it will continue to leak out.

Why am I talking about this? Why am I making you, and myself, come face-to-face with what you need and what you think you need? Maybe it’s because I’m not who I thought I was and need to rethink that. Like I said, you’re constantly changing. No human being is stagnant or even stable. It would be stupid to believe that. There is very little in this world that we can rely on being constant, if anything at all.

Isn’t it great that we have a God who is the same every single day?

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

Our souls come from a God who is unchanging. People at the time were so flabbergasted by who he was that they tried to equate him to one of the ancient prophets. That was the only logical explanation for what he was doing.

We like to think we know who we are. We like to think we know who other people are. But the thing is, we will always be works in progress. There’s something almost liberating about that thought.

And to be completely honest, who we all really are is Depraved. We are in need daily for a Savior. Someone to save us from who we are and who we think we are.

The unfortunate fact of this life is that we are never who we think we are. We can post whatever we want on Instagram, say whatever we want, update our LinkedIn however we see fit. We can choose friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, mentors, who solidify who we think we are, but it will never change the fact that who we are is needy, thirsty for something beyond the persona.

I think you know Who can fill the cracks. I think you know Who can fill you. Because that’s what it all points back to. Don’t be afraid to bare your dirty soul to Him. He wants to see you, not who you think you are. Oftentimes, we hide the darkest parts of ourselves from people, even people we love the most, because we’re afraid. I’m often afraid that people will see through me to who I truly am and be disappointed. I live in fear of letting people down.

But God wants it all. He wants every ounce of your fear and disappointment in yourself. He wants all of you, and He will never be disappointed by you. He will see your pain, your darkness, and know it in ways that no one else can.

Run to Him. Show Him your scars and open wounds. Show Him who you really are.

a. w.

Proverbs 31: How to Choose A Wife (It’s Easier than You Think.)

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I want you to think of the Bible stories you were told as a kid in Sunday School. Dig deep. Picture those flannelgraphs. Feel the Play-Doh residue on your hands as you pick at the carpet on the floor of the church classroom. Maybe you were shown cartoons. Maybe you drew or colored pictures or did crafts. Maybe you even acted out skits (I’m jealous.)

Whether you heard these stories yesterday or fifteen years ago, I want you to remember the characters. There are a lot of characters that are popular even in secular culture. On a rainy day someone might ask where Noah is with his ark. When the small town football team defeats a bigger school, you might say David beat Goliath.

But I’ve never heard a husband say, “Wow, honey, you never eat the bread of idleness. I think I’ll go praise your works at the city gate.”

Let’s face it. Some stories stick better than others. A big boat in the middle of a flood is more appealing to kindergartners than learning about the Wife of Noble Character. We don’t rally up our sons and tell them to find a wife who clothes her household in scarlet or is really good at selecting wool and flax. That doesn’t really translate on a Flannelgraph.

And that’s ok. This kind of thing is better to tackle as an adult – what kind of mate do I want to live beside?

I’m not sure if “good at selecting wool and flax” immediately pops into your head. And scarlet doesn’t look good on everyone.

And what about for women? Is this an impossible ideal to strive toward? What if you don’t want to become a wife or mother? Can you still be a “wife” of noble character?

Well, heck yes.

Go back to those characters I told you to think about. Think about the ladies. Maybe you talked about Rahab in Sunday School – your teachers possibly glossed over the fact that she was a prostitute. She risked her life to save two strangers. She turned away from her way of living, which was probably her main source of income. And she became part of the lineage of our Savior.

I’m almost positive you talked about Ruth. Ruth was a BA lady. As a proposal of marriage, she laid at Boaz’s feet as he slept – a super un-kosher thing to do in those days. But this act was hardly submission. In a sense, she was forcing his hand, making her intentions clear. She ain’t no wallflower.

Women are BA. That’s a fact. Maybe we’re smaller and less muscular than men, but we make up for that in mental capacity. I’m not kidding. We’re far more intuitive to the needs, wants, and emotions of others. We can read a room, understand a situation within seconds. Women are mentally strong. Not to mention we can literally create a human being inside our bodies over the course of nine months and continue to sustain that life once it’s outside of our bodies. And go about our daily lives whilst doing it. (The Queen of England had two of her children during her reign. That means she was attempting to govern the country whilst pregnant, whilst nursing, whilst chasing two-year-olds. Not for the faint of heart.)

And that’s the gist of Proverbs 31. Ms. Proverbs 31 is not a docile, Downton Abbey-style dowager, who simply sits at home all day drinking tea. She’s a go-getter. She could be a mom, or a wife, or an entrepreneur, or all three. Ms. Proverbs 31 is a student in grad school, writing pages and pages of a thesis to prove that her education was not wasted on her. She’s a factory worker doing overtime to feed her family. She’s a size 2, a size 14, a different size depending on the store. She wakes up early to go to work or wakes up at 4pm to work overnight.

There’s no “one” Proverbs 31. If you are strong, bold, and love the Lord, you are Proverbs 31. Another interesting thing to note is that if you read Proverbs 31, which is 21 verses, her husband is only mentioned three times. The rest is praise for her. Her worth is not dependent on her husband or her children. Her worth is dependent on the Lord and who He has declared her to be.

Another thing – Proverbs 31 isn’t cute and frilly and flowing typeface with a floral background. The Proverbs 31 Woman gets dirty. Her hands are chapped and sore from work. She gives herself away daily. She laughs with people, cries with people. She loves deeply, no matter the cost. She’s not always smiling, her makeup isn’t always perfect. But she is who God declared her to be. 

If you allow the Lord to speak that into your life, you too will have the power of Proverbs 31.

a. w.

A Not #MeToo Girl in A #MeToo World

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I’ve never been sexually harassed.

When I go on the Internet (which is a lot) I feel like a unicorn. I don’t have a story. I couldn’t tell you a time I felt uncomfortable by the sexual advances of a man. I have felt uncomfortable by people, but not for sexual reasons.

I don’t have a story.

Do I?

Is my narrative important even though it doesn’t involve a #MeToo? Maybe it’s because I’m fresh out of college and haven’t entered the “work force” proper. Is that why? Am I just luckily surrounded by decent men? Do I not play in the same sphere as these power-hungry men who seem to be prowling every corner of the earth?

I don’t know if I will ever be able to come to a definite answer other than – I am not #MeToo. I’ve never been asked to do something sexual in return for something else. I’ve never been propositioned, or coerced, or grabbed. During the height of #MeToo, the closest I could come to #MeToo was a customer at a coffee shop I used to work at telling the female workers to smile, or he wouldn’t give us a tip.

I wouldn’t call that sexual harrassment. I would call that rude. You bet I gave him the most fake, saccharine smile I could every day because that’s customer service and I do that for everyone.

The second closest I could come to #MeToo was being cat-called in Germany while on a choral tour. The men were obviously drunk and several hundred yards away from us as we crossed the street in our formal concert dresses. It was scary, but I was with a group of men and women. I just kind of brushed it off. They were drunk and they were idiots (probably.)

So. I’m not #MeToo. Is my voice still important? Honestly, I don’t know. Because I don’t know what it feels like. Am I privileged for not being #MeToo? Possibly. Once again, it’s strange to be a not-#MeToo girl in a #MeToo world. I watch woman after woman come forward about man after man and I can’t raise my hand and say “me too.” There’s no way for me to relate to her, or her to me. We may as well be from different countries, it seems.

I am well aware that there are still things I can “do.” I can still speak up for women who have gone through these things. There are people in my life who have had these things happen to them. I could speak up for them…but they’re already speaking up for themselves, so how would I help?

But, if I may be so bold…are we glorifying victimhood? Are we inadvertently making it “cool” to be a victim of sexual harrassment? Are we only putting relevance on those that have a story?

I am not #MeToo, but I’m not ashamed to not be #MeToo. I wouldn’t classify myself as a Feminist as the world defines that term. I don’t owe my worth to that moniker. I don’t find my worth in a #MeToo statement or even a not #MeToo statement. I find my worth within myself and within Christ. (Yes, I’m going to get preachy.) Men and women, bad men and good men, #MeToo and not #MeToo are equal in the eyes of Christ. Equally lovable, equally redeemable. Equally sinful, but equally loved.

I have every confidence that our society is redeemable. And ladies: it’s ok if you don’t want to be seen as a victim. #MeToo does not define your worth or lack thereof. I have a lot of conflicting opinions about all of the recent sexual misconduct allegations against prominent men. Which ones are real, and which ones aren’t? Are they all one or the other? Are only men capable of sexual misconduct? It seems difficult to differentiate fact from fiction when anyone can say anything.

So honestly, I don’t know what else to say other than what I’ve already said. Ok, maybe just one thing: let’s not make this about revenge. Let’s make this about becoming better. Better together.

Remember who you are and Whose you are, first and foremost. Whether you are #MeToo or not #MeToo, be strong, but be kind. Try to understand as best you can. If you are blessed enough to be a parent now or someday, raise your sons to be respectable and raise your daughters to be strong.

And while you’re at it, be strong and respectable yourself. You deserve it.

a. w.

Writer’s Envy, Or, an Inch of Influence.

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In recent weeks I’ve had more time to read. I used to be an avid reader, especially of the classics, but college will do things to you. After reading a social science textbook for three hours straight, trying to make sense of abstract concepts and miles of charts…sitting down and reading a book afterward isn’t very appealing. The number of books I read for fun as an undergrad is probably in the single digits, and for some reason nonfiction was more interesting to me in the midst of my studies (I guess it made it easier to code-switch when it came to reading textbooks.)

But a few weeks ago I dove into a fantastic book – No Man’s Land by Simon Tolkien. Yes, he’s related to who you think he is. His writing takes a definite cue from that of his grandfather, but with a unique modern voice. As a fictional look into the events leading to the first World War, Tolkien is able to write about the subject with a knowing omniscience that his characters are oblivious to, especially after having a grandfather who served in that war.

Something I enjoy doing as a reader and a writer is (I don’t know if this is out-of-the-ordinary or not?) is to imagine the writer’s life as I’m reading. Try to pinpoint certain scenes or characters that possibly hinge on the author’s own experiences. Does this author fix on atheism vs. theism because he was raised by a believing and non-believing parent? Is the romantic interest based on a spouse or lover? Why did they choose these specific names? When writers read, they’re almost always reading as if the book were an autobiography. They see layers; not just the characters, but the one who created them.

For me, another thought that comes into my head while I read is: How can I write like this?

Or, better yet – how the heck am I supposed to compete with this? 

I call it Writer’s Envy. An easy enough term, and a phenomena that’s easy enough to diagnose. If you read something and wish you could write like that, that’s Writer’s Envy. Even if you’re not a “writer” (everyone’s a writer in some capacity, but not everyone enjoys writing,) you’ve probably experienced Writer’s Envy.

In recent weeks I’ve also had more time to write. Before now, the last time I truly sat down and hammered out some writing for my novel (when I say novel, I basically mean eight-year passion project that keeps me busy when I’m bored) was last August. Awhile ago. I often feel guilty about how little I write, even though I call myself a writer.

“Why am writing when they write so much better than me?” Unfortunately, this thought goes through my head often. It’s not always when I’m reading novels. I’ll read blog posts and wonder how could get that many followers, or comments, or likes. How do I get there? (Sometimes that has a lot more to do with optimization than writing, but that’s an entirely different blog post altogether.)

Whoever you are, whatever you do, this thought has probably crossed your mind before. “Why are they better than me? Why can’t I be that good?” Sometimes it seems like someone gets good at something overnight when you’ve been struggling for years to hone your craft and make people notice. And that doesn’t seem fair! (Because it’s not. Didn’t you listen to the grandpa in The Princess Bride?)

When you hit these walls, it’s easy to stop. I won’t even say “give up,” because that sounds like you’re pity-partying yourself, and that’s not always the case. You just stop, because you feel like you’re getting nowhere and your time might be better spent doing something else. Sometimes you just stop. Because it feels useless.

Fun fact: I’ve stopped writing this blog post three times. It has taken me almost a week to write this. Because I sit down to write, and I don’t feel like I have anything useful to say. Why would I write something that’s already been written before?

I’m glad I haven’t stopped though. I wrote voraciously in middle school. Then high school happened and I didn’t write as voraciously, because I had actual homework that took up actual time. Then life happened and I had other things that took up actual time (like a degree.) Now that life isn’t as busy and is a bit more predictable…I’m not writing as voraciously as I did in middle school, even though I could.

I’m going to challenge you to do something I’m challenging myself to do this year: take time to do what you love, even if you feel like it’s not worth anything. Is my novel ever going to be in front of any other eyes other than my own, and my roommates’? Maybe not. Will it be the next Game of Thrones and become a TV show that gets put out so fast I can’t turn out novels fast enough and it ruins my narrative so I have to kill everyone in the story? More than probably not. Will I have a Wikipedia page with scholarly citations? Again, probably not.

But do I love writing? Yes. Do I love looking back on what I’ve written and get inspired to write more? Yes. Do I want to tell stories? Heck yes.

Even if I’m only given an inch of the world to influence, I want that inch to be fertile, to cultivate maybe one or two people to plant their own inch of influence. It will be worth it to someone, or something, or some time. And if all else fails, it will be worth it to you. 

So write on.

Life doesn’t discriminate
between the sinners and the saints
it takes and it takes and it takes and
we keep living anyway
we laugh and we cry and we break
and we make our mistakes
and if there’s a reason I’m still alive
when everyone who loves me has died
then I’m willing to wait for it.
I’m willing to wait for it.
Aaron Burr, Hamilton

a. w.