Standing Up for Yourself
It seemed so easy when she did it! I worked on this trick an entire summer but only got as far as squatting like a frog, my fingers wrapped up in my horse’s mane, my ankles bowing out on both sides. I’d lift my butt a few inches and my feet would begin to slide down his slick sides. I could not figure it out. The girl I’d seen do it at the Barnum and Baily circus made it look effortless. But standing on the back of a horse in motion is much harder than it looks.
And so is standing up for yourself!
Now, I’m not the greatest writer in the world. I can think of a half dozen or so whose work I admire more, Joan Didion, Elizabeth Lesser, Anne Lamott, Richard Ford, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Alice Walker, Marge Piercy, Anais Nin, Flannery O’Connor, Joyce Carol Oates, Arundhati Roy, Alice Munro…OMG, I can’t stop…
Well, more, I suppose, but you get the idea. So-o-o many writers make it look easy.
Sometimes I look back on something that I wrote and realize that it’s total crap, disorganized, wordy, confusing run-on sentences and straight up shitty grammar. But it might also be that same piece of writing that seems to hold so much insight and wisdom that I wonder to myself, who wrote that?
As I said, I’m not the greatest writer. But one of the biggest differences between someone like me and another who wishes they could call themselves a “writer” is that I do. Not only do I call myself an author and writer but I also do it almost every day. I’m not saying it’s good stuff because mostly it’s not, but I write and that makes me a writer.
I have to confess, it hasn’t always been that way.
I used to be afraid to call myself a writer because I knew that I would be challenged to defend that. People would ask me what I write or if I had anything published. I didn’t have a lot of answers at the time – a few small literary journals, a measly little blog, local magazines – it was embarrassing trying to explain my daily scribbles.
But I also knew that I had to start calling myself a writer if I were to give myself permission to spend so much time doing something that seemed to produce so little. It’s tough to claim to be something you really can’t defend with anything legit or useful to the people asking about what you’re up to.
So instead I simply had to own it and refuse to defend it.
There comes a point in life when you just have to call it; when you have to let go and stand up on the back of your fears, risk falling and get good at the standing up part. You can’t stay crouched and ready forever.
So whatever you’re thinking you’d like to be or do, begin by standing in the skin of that. Take on the attributes and do the things that have the potential to make you more of what it is you want to be. If you want to be a world traveler, call yourself that and plan one small trip. It doesn’t have to be to China or any place fancy or far, it just has to be somewhere you haven’t been before so you can practice curiosity and discovery of places new.
If you want to be a dancer, take a dance class. If you want to be a songwriter, write a song.
Standing up for yourself doesn’t have to be loud or even visible. It’s not about defending who you are, it’s about becoming. Stand tall, my friend, with your soul on fire. Who you are and what you do don’t have to be good enough for the whole world in order for you to engage in this life’s desire, they just need to be good enough for you.
Tell me, who or what do you dare to call yourself?
Thanks for reading and please, share with a friend who needs to hear this.