I have had an online writing presence ever since I was encouraged by an acquaintance and fellow military veteran to sign up with Associated Content with a piece I wrote on Veterans’ Day nearly five years ago called “Thank You for Your Service: My Promise to All Veterans.” Associated Content was bought out and is now called the Yahoo! Contributor Network and I’ve seen a lot of changes in the site.
I started writing online to give myself a “voice.”
Throughout my life, I’ve been accused of talking too much about things that should not be talked about and being too confrontational. Most saw this as “attitude” when it was actually my personality. Consequently, I took a lot of criticism.
“You talk too much,” “You have diarrhea of the mouth,” “Why must you always have an argument?” and “Must you always ask ‘why?'” were comments and questions I’ve heard many times over the last 50+ years from people who simply wanted to change me.
Quiet me. Control me. Beat me verbally into submission.
I had rarely felt that others listened to what was beneath the words. I was careful not to question certain people, as “Why?” was not well-received in my family, in the military, nor in several of the companies for which I’ve worked.
But I could not help myself. It is part of who I am at the very core.
Curious. Challenging. Wanting to learn and understand.
It was not until much later in my life that I learned that most of the time the people who were most uncomfortable with me were people who were unsure of themselves. They did not want to be challenged because they had no answers, nor were they comfortable with being able to “agree to disagree.”
What I also learned later in life is that I did not often speak my truth. I was careful not to make others uncomfortable or to ask questions to make them think. I learned to “be quiet,” even though I was still quite loquacious.
I have similar stories from my younger days where writing is concerned, graded with high marks for spelling, grammar and the like; yet, I was marked down considerably for content that did not fit the “norm” or that was written in such a way to pose a challenge.
It was when I challenged myself and attended university in my mid-40s that I started to blossom.
Although I met some professors who did not share my beliefs and values and did not particularly care for my challenging nature and also tried to “quiet me,” I saw a marked change in my being free to share my opinions and my questioning. There were equally as many professors who were quite adept at returning the volley in a way that energized me.
And volley they did!
I have found that the Internet is another place where there are people who are also capable of returning the volley! I am able to share my thoughts, opinions and much more without as much fear of the criticism
Yes, I still receive a lot of criticism. But I have been able to say what I need to say with much more confidence. Doing so in writing has allowed me to find my “voice,” able to talk about the things I think are important in a manner that is true to my personality. It has also helped me to develop similar skills in the way that I deliver the spoken word.
And I began to find others who think like I do. Not always in agreement with the content, but in concert with the right to say it. Friendship. Camaraderie. Like-mindedness. My cohorts.
Now I am in the company of people from around the world who speak their minds. Engage in conversation and philosophical debate. Who encourage me to do so. Some like what I have to say and tell me. Others do not and also tell me.
I think this is a pretty good reason to continue to write online here on my blog and to find other avenues continue to speak what I think needs to be said.
From my head. From my heart.
Using my voice.
A message from the author:
To read my original “Thank You for Your Service,” if you do a search for the title and my name, it will take you directly to the article. From that article, you can find many other things that I have written in the early years online. Let me know by commenting at the content that you have stopped by.
If you are unable to find it, let me know and I will send it to you.