How I Turned Inside Out



From my ongoing inquiry into what it means to be human, A Run In My Stocking: Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist

I got a beautiful email from a dear friend, letting me know how much he was enjoying my blog. In my grateful reply I wrote, “I am moved by the calibre of people interested in my writing, and humbled by the discipline of forgetting them....” It occurs to me that this is a philosophy worth taking on in all areas of life. Doing what I know to do, to the best of my ability, without worrying about what people think. With this blog, I write like no one will read it.

A Run In My Stocking started in my private journal. If I look, I’d have to say that most creative endeavours in my life started in my journal. There is something so intimate and exciting about putting pen to paper and filling blank pages with one’s own narrative, in one’s own hand. The first journal I wrote was a grade school assignment, and the only entry I can remember off-hand ended thusly... “We had chili again for the third day in a row!!! I hate chili!!!!!!!!!!”

My journaling today still includes much of the mundane details of my life — what I’ve got to get done today/this week/this month, an archive of activities I participate in — but since getting sick a few years ago (let’s just call it burn-out and peri-menopause) and having to stop work, my journals became a lot more introspective. And deeply personal. I have used them as a way to delve deep and unearth issues I thought I’d dealt with. I have used them to work through decisions by laying out details for consideration. And I have used them to break through patterns, habits, thoughts, and stale ideas that no longer serve me. In short, my journaling has become a consistent source of personal transformation, and practice for my living philosophy.

None of that would have been possible if I’d thought for even a moment that anyone would read my personal writing. It’s not that I wouldn’t share my journaling (since clearly I am), but that the moment in which I’m unloading my deepest thoughts and emotions, I have to feel absolutely safe to unveil myself authentically. It’s a much different process than “blogging”. It’s like what Robert Redford said about acting. “[It’s] great. Just don’t let anyone catch you doing it.” When I catch myself blogging, that’s the key, the clue, the red flag — the time to stop and re-set. In sales, it’s like focusing on targets rather than on customers. You’ll get by, but you’ll never get great. It’s the same, I have learned the hard way, in life.

After decades of getting by, trying to get “it” right, I have learned to stop focusing my attention outward. I have learned to express rather than impress. To share rather than to write. It was counterintuitive at first, but as it turns out, the deeper I allow myself to go in, the more impact I can have going out. Because inside is where we find our true selves, and, as it turns out, that’s where we find everyone else, too.

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