A few weeks ago, I had the ridiculously privileged opportunity to attend a workshop with writers Ana Maria Spagna, (one of my former grad school instructors), and Laura Pritchett. The workshop took place in Coupeville, on Whidbey Island. There were periods of rain and lashes of sun, and the birds woke me up early-early in the morning for the honor of lying half-asleep and listening. I didn’t check my e-mail or Facebook for two and a half days and it was glorious. I want to do that more often.
The theme for the workshop was Writing for Change. It felt like self-help and self-discovery, in the best ways. One of the exercises we did in the early part of the weekend was to list 10 “hard truths” about ourselves, truths that maybe we are embarrassed about or that don’t flatter us. I only got to 8 truths in the time allotted, and I thought I would share 5 with you today.
I am very good at self-criticism, but my self-critique is rather unoriginal. I tell myself I am worthless because I don’t have a job. Or that I’m a burden to my family. Or that I’m slow and not smart and not creative and all my ideas have been done before. Etc, etc, blahblahblah, very unoriginal self-sabotage. What I tried to do with this exercise, though, was to be more objective and more probing. I write nonfiction, which means I’m in the business of telling truths, even and especially hard truths. So here are my hardest truths, ones that do not paint me well and that I wish I did better. Ones that I am trying to deliver with keen self-assessment but not overwhelmingly harsh judgment, because I am trying to be gentler with myself. Gentler in the hopes that by admitting and acknowledging them, I can turn them into truths of the past and do better with my future.
- I am jealous of what other people have.
- I feel hurt by perceived slights against me that probably never happened, and I lash out at people who don’t deserve my lashing.
- I am racist.
- I lack compassion for straight, white, able-bodied people, especially men, and don’t want to listen to their problems.
- I fear being alone forever.
What are your hard truths? What would you admit in order to and in hopes of do better with your future?