Are you going to live your dreams? Or are you already locked into the ever-so-slow process of giving up?
For me, I had always known I was supposed to be a writer. I felt that hunch in my soul from a very young age. I just never turned into it in a way that showed any commitment. As life marched on, and years grew into decades, I eventually began to feel like it may never happen. I excused my lack of drive and commitment by convincing myself I lacked the time, resources, and a hundred other variables to really give writing a real try.
It’s a dangerous game to play with your passion because excuses often begin to work as shields for our lack of actions. Excuses always foster a woe-is-me attitude that basically puts a creative heart into deep hibernation. Oh sure, I would still tell people I was planning on writing soon, but deep inside my mind, I knew I was just pretending.
The darker reality of why I was not writing was much more embarrassing… and very seeded in my insecurities. I knew things about me that others didn’t. I couldn’t spell. I didn’t understand grammar, syntax, or morphology AT ALL (I honestly still don’t understand morphology but I googled some bigger grammatical terms to sound profound). I also couldn’t type. I didn’t even understand how to operate a computer very well. Looking back on it now, it was so sad it’s almost funny. Almost.
See, growing up, my family moved around a lot. From jr. high school on, I never went to the same school more than one year at most so, somewhere I missed out on a ton of instruction. I also had some real learning challenges early on, and my family simply began to treat me like just passing was a victory. I have learned first hand that sometimes low expectations for children can really damage potential; even when your trying to make them feel better about their lives.
As an adult, instead of being honest about what I clearly didn’t understand, I found creative ways around these challenges. I passed many high school and even college classes with great grades because I’m a gifted problem solver. It is a skill I’m forever grateful to have, but sometimes it can be used to hide things that need to be exposed. Problem solvers can often find ways around issues instead of just owning up to what they didn’t know and take the time to learn. When we avoid challenges, we often end up on paths that turn out far less inspiring than we had hoped. And that was very true for me.
As I limped on in that area of my life, I began to find success in other arenas and simply learned to hide my ignorance by not trying at all. Like a broken bone that heals wrong, I hardened in this place and learned to accept my self-imposed limitations. Limited by what I hadn’t learned, I became less than what I was created for. It was a very bad move, for sure.
Thankfully, things were not to remain this way forever.
You see, when you have dreams, life makes sure to give us all opportunities to undergo very painful and impactful moments that can alter our priorities forever. One of my opportunities would turn out to be a real game-changing moment. This moment started when I was slammed by a former friend as she was exiting my life. Before she left our offices that day, she turned to me and out of no where said, “And who are you kidding, Michael, you’ll never be a writer. Stop saying you will write someday… you won’t.” She was leaving our staff and friendship for entirely different reasons, but somehow she felt that she need to attack me personally.
I shrugged it off in front of my friends, but honestly, it crushed me. Not because a once close friend and co-worker was leaving, not even because she was taking a shot at me. You see, it hurt so bad because she hit a real and truthful nerve. She said out loud what my heart had come to believe for a while now.
I can vividly remember later that night resting my head on the wall of my shower while the hot water ran over my wounded ego, dreams, and heart. I hated that she was right. I felt such embarrassment and pain. It wasn’t enough for her to end a friendship so callously, but she ripped into my heart’s dreams, as well. I remember feeling empty and helpless. And then it happened…
Somewhere in that shower I decided she was wrong about me. I decided I had been wrong about me too. I decided that I would not stay broken in this area of my life, anymore. I actually said out loud, “Don’t let her be right about you Michael!”
Then, I got out of that shower, washed clean of my past failures and ignorance. That night I googled the habits of great writers and made a list of a few things I would start doing every single day. Through others habits, I found my own way.
I began making myself write only a hundred words a day. At first, it started really slow. It was a mess of misspellings and grammar nightmares; but, my friends helped me learn, grow, and develop. Over the years, I have gone from a hundred words a day to roughly three thousand a day or more… five days a week. I can now type over seventy words a minute. Actually, I can type much faster than that, but the amount of mistakes becomes so comical, I pace myself there. I still am learning more about spellings, tenses, and grammar each and every week; I also learned that it is a writer’s ideas that people look for. Sure, the world has a lot of grammar Nazis, but for the masses… they simply want to be inspired, touched, entertained, and challenged a little. I used to be so embarrassed when I would make a mistake in a publicly written piece. Now I just check it off to being very human. Ironically, everything I write these days is run past several editors, and still mistakes make it through. Recently, I posted an article on The Huffington Post that went viral. I received emails from around the world letting me know that the word “tenants” should have been spelled “tenets.” All I could say was, yep. I make a point of learning that and just keep on writing on my next work.
There's lots of grammar Nazis, but the masses… they simply want to be inspired, touched,… Click To Tweet
An english professor helped me a lot with my writing by teaching me that I could, in fact, break rules. People who read my writing know I use “…” a lot. Too much even. I use them in places commas go and use them to end sentences. It’s my way of communicating longer pauses for people to think. I break the rule for how to use these little dots because because it’s my writing. By the way, those dots are called ellipses.
At last, I’m comfortable in my world of writing. I’m about the story, the narrative, the communication…not all the rules. It’s my style. I know I’ll be learning forever about better ways of writing and I do enjoy adding to my understanding and vocabulary. But I no longer hide behind ignorance and insecurity. God has blessed me with the ability to make a living doing what I love… doing what once frightened and intimidated me to my core. And for that alone, I will forever be thankful.
Look, we all have dreams. On my last post, I shared a little about what we must do if we want to turn our hopes into a reality; our dreams into a real life. But to do this, you MUST begin today with new habits. Just one good habit can turn your life around!
So tell me, what is one fear you haven’t faced? What is one thing you need to learn? What is the one thing you will commit to do daily for thirty days? What is that one habit that will be your game changer? Share yours in the comments section of this post. Then whoever gets the most “likes” on their comment will win an AWESOME prize and get some needed help in their endeavorer from myself and my staff. You can get your friends to help by you voting for you, as well!
Are you ready to have a game changing moment?!?!
Then make it happen!
Use this as your moment in time and decide that you don’t have to stay broken…
You can heal, you can get strong in your weak places. And what is more…
You can still have the life of your dreams!