I have a friend who I consider incredibly brave.
I'm not talking about the way he's handled the shit in his life, or the way he refuses to compromise his morals; although that does make him brave in my book as well. What I'm talking about is the way he can write things, post them, and receive feedback ALL UNDER HIS OWN NAME.
It's a genuinely heart pounding experience for me to type this out and give it to you all even with most of you not knowing a damn thing about me, and he just gives it to the world. He gives all his art to the world in these great bursts. Blogs, poems, songs, screenplays, short films; they're all out there and he doesn't feel the urge to bury himself when others see them. It's an urge I'm constantly feeling and for the life of me I can't comprehend the level of confidence you'd have to hold in order to do that.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately, just rolling it around in my head. Why can't I post things under my own name? Why can't I show people what I've been working on without feeling my heart drop into my stomach acid? And more importantly, why do I let that fear control what I do? In a way this blog is my attempt to work around the insecurities I've had in my writing since I was a tiny human hiding my notebook from my dad when he asked what I was working on, and I think it's a good step. I was going crazy with all my thoughts stagnating in my head and I didn't even realize it until I started posting on this thing.
Part of it is an honesty issue. If I know my friends and family are reading my work I'll censor myself in little ways that wouldn't seem so important in the moment yet would eventually destroy the integrity of my writing.
But really it all comes down to my own expectations.
As a confident woman I have very high expectations for myself, and in most ways I can tell when I'm succeeding or not. That's not how it works with writing. You have to rely on others to help you know when you've got something good on your hands. I don't expect that level of honesty from anyone in my life. I do expect great things of myself so when I don't meet those expectations it's relatively heartbreaking. Pride can be helpful in certain situations, but in this it destroys me. I know I can always be better, always improve. Therefore anything I work on will never be good enough because it can always be better too.
My high expectations for myself and my work have paralyzed me in more than one way over the course of my life, but the way it paralyzes my ability to write and create and show people all the amazing things I've been working on is by far the most damaging aspect of it. Eventually I'll get over it, and until then I'll be Ellie Burns writing about her life in the most interesting way she knows how.