I started Untold Stories a little over two years ago now.
Starting was definitely not easy. There were many times my fingers hovered over the keys or the publish button, agonizing whether it was worth the vulnerability and risk I felt. For so long I told myself that if anyone besides a select few people in my life knew the real me—that rejection, ridicule, or judgment would be the only responses I would ever get.
These lies I believed told me that the person I really was deep down was never good enough to share with people around me.
Fear and doubt colored everything in my life. They determined how I made decisions and always let me know which thoughts, feelings, and beliefs were safe enough to share. Realizing this brought me face to face with how suffocated I really felt from years of stuffing everything down and hiding in order to only present the perfect, acceptable public image. My people-pleasing, fearful self was no surprise—but the sudden will to truly change its toxic patterns in my life had rushed in like never before. Ultimately I had to admit that my current system of managing expectations, whether they were my own or someone else’s, was truly broken.
I have learned in these past two years of writing, to be kind when remembering my younger self. In reality, for a girl and for a child—to come to the conclusions of be less or please others more or change yourself for what you think others want is quite common. Sadly, our world often primes children and especially girls that indecisiveness, quietness, shyness, competition, comparison, and insecurity are somehow normal. In fact, oftentimes they are praised or even demanded of girls, rather than encouraging alternative traits such as confidence, security, and decisiveness.
Find me a young girl who knows what she wants, who isn’t afraid to speak her mind, who isn’t afraid to ask questions, who doesn’t feel the need to compete or compare herself with other girls or boys around her, who doesn’t feel pressure to always make herself smaller or quieter in some way… I would love to meet her.
I know this girl was definitely not who I was growing up.
To be even more honest, it is not even the woman I feel I can be on most days still, but it is the kind of woman I want to be.
Most importantly, it is the kind of person I want to teach all of my children to be, whatever their gender.
Since I started writing a few years ago, I have begun to learn that my struggles with people-pleasing, comparison, obsessiveness, anxiety, fear, and hustling can actually be some of my greatest teachers. It is easy to run and hide and be ashamed of them—it is far harder to sit with them and to try to learn from them.
I know now that I am not alone in these struggles.
The more I work on being less reactionary by choosing to not let any one voice or lie control how I always feel or drive what decisions I ultimately make, the more I have found a way to breathe and to live with a little less anxiety and fear. I am learning ever so slowly that anxiety and fear are always going to be a part of my life—but it’s how I live with them that really matters.
I can give those voices complete control in my life or I can allow them space alongside other voices such as faith, hope, gratitude, honesty, wisdom, and joy. Allowing these other voices to speak up and have equal weight in my life has shown me how to hear God in my life again in a new way–this time instead of a voice outside of me that I hear only through authority figures or other’s thoughts on what God might be trying to say to me–it is instead a quieter group of voices deep inside of me that speak only when I get still enough to listen.
These voices inside of me always speak truth and love. They are kind and brave. They bring me peace and joy. They remind me to always be grateful for what I have and hopeful for the future. When I listen well, I have experienced small, beautiful moments of growth.
There have been times where I spoke simple truth to myself, to someone I love, or just out into the world through my writing and I did it without hiding or cushioning it in the perfect light.
Even the moments where I just stood still in a moment of conflict—whether internal or external and refused to run or hide or concede or accept all blame—were huge accomplishments for me.
I cherish those victories. They have changed me and help give me hope for reaching even higher.
There have been just as many other times though where I found myself running and hiding again before I even realized it.
Finding my way forward as a writer here at Untold Stories has been far more challenging on most days than I ever realized it would be.
The initial burst of freedom I found, soon turned into its own different expectation to juggle. Suddenly there was this pressure to keep being that courageous and brave with my writing all the time, not to mention feeling pressure to always have some story worth writing about.
In addition to this, my fears and anxiety over what I wrote, whom it impacted, and how people responded had also kicked up a level. I had been writing long enough now that I was starting to get discovered, both by people I knew and by others I didn’t. In the midst of this, I began struggling with feeling overwhelmed by the pressure to stay just as active on social media, as I was by the pressure to write on my blog.
The never-ending outrage and pressure to respond to the latest cause or horrible, current event was exhausting. As compelled as I often felt to speak into the noise, this was soon outweighed by the fear that I was just becoming an indistinguishable part of it.
Soon my worst fears found even more reasons to make me want to hide. I had some run-ins with people I cared about through my interactions on social media that really shook me.
I was ridiculed. I was misunderstood. I was threatened. I was frightened.
So believing again, I had no other recourse, I got quieter and smaller.
My hiding was only further fueled by how intimidated I started to feel by many other bloggers and authors I follow. Whether it was the volume they were consistently writing or the manner in which they so bravely shared their words with the world or how everyone else seemed to always know exactly how to manage the constant pressure to respond to the craziness of current events—a feeling of drowning had started to threaten to take over as I got quieter and the voices of comparison shouted louder and louder that I was failing and should just disappear.
What has kept me writing, even now though, is reminding myself of why I started writing in the first place.
I believe more than ever that stories of truth spoken out loud and shared at the right time have incredible power.
Just by writing this, I already feel some clarity I haven’t felt in a long time. But even before I started writing this post, I have been doing my best to circle round and round with my teachers of fear, anxiety, comparison, and doubt—instead of running from them.
I have been talking with my people—the people who know me deeply, about my motives and reasons for writing and my urges to quit. I don’t have a lot of answers yet, but I do feel that more will come with writing again.
Everywhere I turn, whether it is through another blogger, an author, a friend, my husband, or even TV shows I watch—the same message keeps coming to me loud and clear.
Face your fear, sit with it, learn from it, walk into it, and don’t run from it.
So that’s what I am here today doing.
Actually I mean this week—becoming a mom has turned my world and routines upside down, so it has taken me a week to write this one post in spurts and pieces.
Regardless, I am here, and I am writing.
I am putting words to my fears and sharing my Untold Stories once again.
I have a vision for some changes and new directions for Untold Stories.
When I started out, Untold Stories largely centered on me as an adult processing through my childhood and struggles with doubt and faith. Those stories and themes will always be a part of this site and my life. They are an undeniable thread running through the fabric of my life.
However, there are also other aspects of my life that I want to bring into the fold—namely more of my present, rather than just my past.
So my goal for this month is to create a new section on the blog specifically for Military Spouses, as being a military spouse is a huge part of my story and life and so I can not be authentic without incorporating it more into the future vision and direction of this site.
I also plan on writing some about my ventures into the world of motherhood and parenting.
My vision and purpose for creating this space was to build it on my real life stories and experiences, with the hope that others would feel open to do the same.
This evolution is me learning to open my life and arms wider to say—
Come look through this window and I will do my best to show you me, my life, my past, my present, and my hopes for the future.
Until next time,