February 13, 2015

Olenka HandOpen Hands

I was that girl who could walk down a couple hundred blocks, navigating all the signs and crosswalks, gently dodging all the people passing by, without ever lifting my eyes from the pages of my book. I lost myself in reading. Waiting for appointments and waiting in lines were like hitting the jackpot – more stolen moments to jump into someone else’s story. So why has it become so hard to tell mine?

This year of learning through experience demands a certain level of documentation, not only to simply record everything that’s going on, but also to give opportunities for reflection. By photographing and writing, I can take these experiences (valuable in and of themselves) even deeper and wring out every last drop of insight and wisdom. I was looking forward to this expectation because along with my love for reading comes my love of journaling. Or they used to come together. Out of disenchantment or plain laziness, I dropped this joy of writing from my life a good few years ago. I wanted to get it back.

I thought this simple intention would be enough to wake up my enthusiasm and get the juices flowing again. But as every deadline pops up on my calendar for the next blog post, my stomach tightens. I push writing away as far as I can. And I just don’t get it. What is the big deal? What is so dreadful about sharing my story?

As I’ve struggled with this uncomfortable reaction to putting myself out there, I’ve realized this mask of humility and who-am-I-to-tell-my-story-out-loud? is far from the genuine selflessness I believed it to be. It is solid gold selfish. Like keeping both hands behind my back in fists, I tell myself I’ve got nothing to say when I’m actually choosing not to share. I’m choosing not to give.

Writing does the job of documentation and reflection. Its reason for being is the precious gift of connection. When I don’t reach out to share my story, there is nothing for another person to receive. I’m keeping myself to myself. The value lies in the giving. By extending my hand, I’m opening up the chance to hold someone else’s. And I’m opening myself up to their story. We’re meeting each other right where we are. That alone is worth the writing.

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