I’m always in my head — processing, evaluating, contemplating. It’s how I interact with the world. I take things in and try to understand before I speak. Early on, I wasn't aware of my introversion or Myers-Briggs classification (I’m an INFJ, in case you were wondering). I was labeled as shy, reserved, etc. But I had tons of words floating around my head and a need to filter them before making anything public.
Writing should be a safe space for someone like me. What’s better than having all the time in the world to contemplate what you want to share? Surprisingly, I don’t enjoy writing as much as I do thinking. By thinking, I don't mean aimlessly day-dreaming. I mean internally struggling with a problem, working through various scenarios, reflecting on my feelings and parsing out some kind of meaning from it all. I was the kid who wondered why we had to show our work when solving a problem.
Stepping into a leadership role, I’m coming to terms that processes and workflows that stay in my head aren’t useful to those I manage. My visions for the future of our organization can’t be mine alone. At some point, through writing, speaking, or other forms of communication (maybe interpretive dance?), my thoughts must come into a public space. As much as I feel this should be natural, it’s hard. When exploring the internal barriers I face, I discovered a few things:
- Writing makes a temporary idea permanent — or semi-permanent. I like the notion of ideas being fluid. Somehow etching them into the real world has a level of concreteness that makes me uncomfortable. I feel I lose the freedom when I turn in a final submission. On a side note, these same beliefs cause me to favor freestyle dance over choreography. I'm prefer experiencing a moment of brilliance that might never be captured again rather than perform an expertly rehearsed piece more than once.
- Writing makes me highly aware of my perfectionism. Endless revisions soon give way to a scary notion - I could work on this proposal forever if there was no deadline. It could always be better, more polished. A thought can be replaced in an instance with no sense of needing to hold on to or change it.
- If I spent as much time documenting what I thought as I did thinking about it, I’d have a lot more things to share. Blog posts, books, organizational policies, inspirational stories — how much more could I contribute if I wasn’t content with my ideas remaining my own. Pulling from and putting my thoughts onto the nearest canvas might be the healthiest thing I could do for myself and others.
Consider this another step into the arena of discomfort. This post that existed a few weeks ago a thought. These ideas kept repeating themselves for some reason so I figured they were looking for somewhere else to live. Outside of my head and into yours perhaps. Maybe that’s how I can look at writing — a medium for conversation or the spark for another idea. Let’s see if that makes it any better…