I never kept a diary in a serious way when I was a girl, even though I know that’s where girls are stereotypically supposed to write down their secrets. They hate/envy other girls (I never did though)…they like cute boys (I never really did that either though)…they’re fighting with their parents (I DID do that a lot, but writing it down with a mother I didn’t trust and want to share my feelings with seemed like a pretty dumb thing to do.) I did always write fiction though. And I used fiction then the same way I use it now. I wasn’t afraid to have fiction stories laying around my room as a kid, because my parents weren’t interested or invested enough in what I was doing to read those, even if they were lying in plain sight.
I don’t keep a diary or journal now, but I do write almost every day; either in blog format about something ‘real’ that’s on my mind, or fiction. (Though I’ve been stalling on my new fiction for a while, and that’s getting to me a bit.) Until the past two years or so, everything I wrote was just for myself, although I did show stories and things to J. With blogging, which I started doing semi-seriously in December of 2016, other people get to see some of what I write, and I started to ‘let go’ a bit and share some of my fiction with trusted friends. Then, I even got brave in the next months and the next year and posted a few fiction stories on the blog where strangers <gasp!> could see them. And then in September of 2017, I started actually self-publishing fiction. Writing has really been the catalyst for a lot of personal growth .
Introspection is a double edged sword for me. I’m an introvert by nature, so most of my time is spent inside my own head, thinking about things, and how they work, and what I feel about them and how they work, and why I feel that way about them…ad infinitum. And I actually prefer that; it feels more comfortable and safe that way. This can be helpful to solve problems for me, or accept and navigate difficult situations in my life, or relationships with people, because I do nearly always think very carefully before I speak or act. I don’t like to be pushed into things, especially social interaction. The flip side of that though, is my very common, very real tendency to ‘overthink.’ Too much introspection for me isn’t good, particularly about relationships, because I’m extremely socially anxious, and even though I’m a natural optimist, and prefer to stay optimistic, I will usually invent pessimistic scenarios, hurtful, selfish intentions, unfavorable outcomes, and problems where there aren’t any, if given long enough to ruminate on something.
Writing fiction, I feel, is particularly helpful for me to balance out that propensity for negative thought spiraling. It’s always been easier for me to look at another person’s problems with more care, empathy, and objectivity than I do my own, so when I can assign a similar problem to one I have to a fictional character, I can usually create a journey of growth and eventual solution for them, and it helps me see more positive paths and outcomes for myself.
J encourages me to write. For these reasons. He knows that’s the main way I do explore my feelings. I’m so grateful for that. Feeling the obligation to stifle a lot of my thoughts and feelings for most of my life is a major source of the anxiety and insecurity I still struggle with now. One of the most effective ways J’s nature combats my anxiety and insecurity is his wholehearted support of my writing. J isn’t an active blogger himself, (he’s not active on any form of social media), and he isn’t a writer, but the things I post there (and here) are largely for him to read. He’s kind of my audience of one. I’m actually still surprised when someone other than J relates to something I wrote. When J checks in with me during the day, he often asks, ‘Did you write anything today?’ That question is really, ‘How are you feeling today?’ It’s actually more of a statement, because the answer is nearly always yes, and the question is really J saying, ‘I can’t wait to see what you’re thinking/how you’re feeling today.’ And he asks with such sincere enthusiasm, it’s clear what a high value he places on my thoughts and feelings. Even though J is such a practical, grounded man, he’s never once told me that my writing is a waste of time; that I should give it up and go do something else more practical and grounded. Because he has the body of evidence of how helpful and crucial writing is to my personal growth and well being and confidence.