I'm a pretty competitive person. Not with things I stink at, like dancing, singing, making people laugh or doing my hair (see photo at left). But with things I love and feel gifted to do, like making things with my hands, cooking and writing. Even with a definite awareness of what I am and am not gifted to do, I kind of get lost sometimes in the competition of something and lose sight of the actual purpose for the actions. I forget the reason for the gift.
Take writing, for example. I started a blog in order to practice writing. I lacked discipline and needed a good excuse to write regularly. This is where you, the reader, come in. I needed an audience. I know. It's weak. Any real writer worth their salt wouldn't need the affirmation and presence of actual human beings as witness to the mundane process of honing one's hoped for ability to truly write and not just regurgitate the ideas of books one is reading, but I guess I'm willing to stand in that lighting, of weakness and the constant human need for reassurance.
Still, there are those times, and I'm ashamed to admit how regular they are, that my competitive nature raises its ugly head and roars, leaping eagerly to the fray, in the attempt of putting someone in their place and hopefully, showing them up.
With blogging, I have naturally been more interested in the blogs that are out there that I never really noticed, in much the same way that you don't see lots of pregnant women until you are pregnant and then voila! Everyone is pregnant. Well, everyone has a blog. Which makes my natural inclinations for wanting to be the best start to flex their muscles. I start to measure myself against everyone else, reading and analyzing what other people are offering to the world by way of cyber thought, and try to figure out how to beat them. I forget the whole point of everything. I begin to put all of my energy into the competition, racking my brain for new ideas and new ways to draw folks in, instead of focusing on the message. And simplicity.
Furthermore, I begin to compromise on my particular style of writing, trying to cram myself into a shape that doesn't work for me and, let's face it, I've never been too good at cramming myself into anything. Buttons pop. Seams rip. The fat rolls are even more grotesquely illuminated. Because I'm not letting me be me.
I didn't create me. God did. And I wish I was cool, I really do. Gosh, I wish I was cool, this ultra trendy, fashionable maven with a ready artillery of amazing topics to wax expert on, and lots of cheering fans. But I'm not. Most of the time I have trouble having a real conversation with "cool" people. Not to say that cool people aren't cool and all, but we just aren't super compatible. They think I'm kind of strange. And I am kind of strange. I'd rather take a class about how to raise bees and goats, talk about 18th century poetry, read Jane Austen, or ponder the metaphorical impact of the movie Inception than discuss The Bachelor, fall in literary love with Edward or Jake in the Twilight series, know what kind of red wine to serve at a party or watch Dancing with the Stars. Nothing wrong with any of those things, and I read the entire Twilight series to see what all the fuss was (and was a bit disappointed - book three is the best), but they're just not my bag.
Coolness was not part of God's plan for me.
I'm kind of a nerd. And a little bit of a dork. And my writing style thus far can sort of be seen by more cynical folk as sort of cheesy. Derek makes me look cool, if I'm being quiet, for about five minutes, because he's cool, but then I open my mouth and the cat's out of the bag. So I've got to keep this in mind when I write. I know it's not bad to to learn new tricks, and to hone and pare down my paragraphs, to better my vocabulary and grammar, or to learn the art of brevity, something I really stink at. Sometimes its necessary to change it up, to go a different direction, to seek inspiration in an unconventional way. But fundamentally, I'm being a coward when I refuse to stay true to who I am as a writer.
There's nothing worse than being known as a fraud, someone who pretends.
So this is what I've got to do. I need to realize that it's not a cop out to say that for me, blogging is practice. I'm not out to have a gazillion followers and write amazing short renditions of home decor or epiphanies I have while checking the mail. I have no ability, yet, to write anything short, except recipes, and they usually take half the day to make. With blogging for you, I am simply practicing, working out my writing muscles, seeing if this dirt road could actually become a highway one day. Writing a respectable book is the goal, and hopefully, writing some noble fiction for teens.
I'm not going to compete with cyber space. I'm going to be thankful for the gift God has given me to write, even if its not Pulitzer Prize, Newberry Medal or New York Times Bestseller List worthy, and I'm going to use it. I'm going to give it my best shot and I'm going to pray. Each time I write I'm going to close my eyes and surrender the gift to the One who bestowed it, hoping that He can find some use for it in the lives of others and that maybe someday a publishing company agrees with Him.
And I'm going to be happy for my fellow bloggers, whose amazing feats never cease and who I really should be thankful for, since they push me to greater heights and stretch me in my own abilities, while throwing in some cool home decor tips and mailbox epiphanies.
I refuse to be jealous of someone else's gift. Jealousy is equivalent to ingratitude.
So this is what I'll change. I'll be grateful. I'll be supportive of others and their gifts.
I won't artificially change myself to be less or more.
But I'll change my less and more to be true to myself.
What about you?