Pushing Past The Fears

A few days ago I wrote a bit of a rant here – because I felt so upset by the news story about a drug addicted mother being prosecuted for murdering her baby with meth-laced breast milk.

I was a little scared to post it here – and especially worried about the automatic sharing on Facebook where all my local friends and acquaintances would see it. I debated whether I should change the setting so that particular post wouldn‘t get shared on social networks.

I’ll probably catch a rash of shit for this, I thought.

But, since my Angel Cards have been talking to me just about every other day about “Risk,” I decided to go ahead and press publish and let the thing be shared wherever it would be shared.

It turned out I didn’t catch much shit about it at all. Instead a few thoughtful comments, both here and on FB. Some of these pushed me to examine my emotions about this more deeply and to feel some compassion for even the law enforcement involved in this case.

And one of those Facebook friends thought that what I wrote was so important that I should send it to the local paper as an opinion piece!

Now wait just a minute, I thought. I couldn’t possibly do that!

If I was going to submit a piece to the actual newspaper – where thousands of locals would read it – I would spend a lot more time researching all my facts, making sure that everything I asserted was absolutely correct. I would go over it with a fine tooth comb, editing each sentence making sure it was all perfect.

And that’s why I’ve never submitted so much as a letter to the local paper.

I’m petrified of sounding like a fool, feeling stupid, inviting criticism from my community. I’m even more terrified of running into one of these readers at the post office or the grocery store and having to defend my position.

I don’t like this wimpy aspect of my personality. And this perfection thing has gotten me exactly nowhere. My writing will never be perfect, my brain can never hold every single nuance and back-up fact about a particular issue.

When I allow myself to be a slave to perfection it postpones all my dreams to ‘someday.’ And we know what that Credence song says about someday.

So what if I piss some people off? Intellectually I understand that it’s a good thing when a writer or journalist ruffles some feathers. Emotionally, the very inkling of it causes me to almost hyperventilate.

Make people uncomfortable? Make myself uncomfortable because of their discomfort and anger at me? Now that wouldn’t be very well-behaved would it?

I’m thinking that this resistance to putting my opinions out to the world circles back to this entrenched need to please, to be well-behaved. It’s how I was taught to survive. And, as I wrote earlier, I’m determined to bust out of that stifling cage.

But it sure is an awfully comfortable cage. I’ve been in it for so long, do I really have the exit key?

Some people are afraid of big, important things. Really scary things. Speaking to a crowd of thousands, jumping out of an airplane, volunteering at an orphanage in India. And they do them anyway – and by doing so inspire others.

I guess I can get over this silly fear of putting my rant out there to a bigger and more local audience. I guess I don’t have to make that piece absolutely perfect. I could just send it to the paper as is.

If I push through this resistance, this tiny fear, might that give me the courage to conquer an even bigger fear next time?

4 Responses to Pushing Past The Fears

  1. Sarah, of course it’s totally up to you to decide whether to submit the piece to the paper, but remember that really what your words would do is raise the issue in people’s minds and begin a conversation. One of the most harmful practices many of us (including me) have is to assume that we should only speak if we are *right* and *already know* instead of just posing questions and requesting input so we can advance our own understanding.

    I will share that I once wrote to the paper about a controversial topic and did get a small smattering of hate mail. In my case, the people were extremists and it was easy to dismiss what they sent because it was so clearly not based on the facts. It was a bit unnerving, though. But then I was in the public restroom of an organization that was sympathetic to my opinion and saw that someone had posted my letter on the wall in one of the stalls! That made me feel really good, that they thought my piece was important enough that everyone should read it while peeing. 🙂

    Just food for thought as you decide…

    • Thanks for sharing your experience Sue. I am going to go for it. After all, one of my 3 words for this year is “Risk!” I’m kind of embarrassed to even call such a small thing a ‘risk.’ It’s not such a big deal. But I guess we start with mini-risks and move up. Who knows? They might not even publish it – and if they do I should probably avoid the online comment section – LOL.

      How amazing that your letter got posted though! That must have made you feel so great! It’s important to speak out about what we believe in. That’s why I’m sending the piece.

  2. I posted a very contriversial piece that was full of fact and passion for doing justice for those that have been abused in our community. The facts were my perceptions of past and present events some of them still unfolding. I did stick my neck out a bit in this piece- but recieved nothing but praise from those whose opinions I value. 14 positive postings to my e-mail and facebook sites. I recieved not one negative comment in person or in print in the paper or blog. There are a few people in hight places in the community who you would consider progressives- but their jobs tend to make them lean a bit towards becoming conservative in their social viewpoints- their opinions were probably not as supportive of parts of my piece. Althought I never actually heard this- I get this from their actions in dealing with some of the problems Ive outlined.
    The cirticism of both of our pieces point in the same general direction, calling for similar solutions- compassion , common sense and treating people with dignity. What you wrote is an exceptional piece that will recieve nothing but praise. Its passionate, smart and sensable. So please do as you suggested – submitt it as is, it is what we need to express and then put into practice to trully make our world the better place it deserves to be.

    My piece was titled: Making Eureka a better place for all of its citizens. It was in the My Word section of the Times Standard before X-Mas. 22nd? or so.

    • Thanks so much Pete for the encouragement! We’ll see if Kimberly accepts the piece and publishes it. I’m leaving town tomorrow, so I’ll have to be checking the paper online. Hopefully she will let me know if she is planning to publish.
      That’s encouraging that you didn’t get any hate mail from your My Word piece. I missed it as I was headed to Mexico at that time. Going to go do a search and see if I can read it now. I know that you have put yourself out there with letters to the ed, etc., and I’ve admired you for it. Look forward to reading this latest.
      A dear friend who grew up in Eureka and works at a local school just sent me a private email talking about many similar situations. It is just heart-breaking to learn about all these preventable tragedies. You’re right, it’s important to speak up. Every little bit counts.

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