I can count on two hands the number of people in my life who know that I write. I don’t even need to use my toes.
Some of my closest friends—people I lived with for years—have no idea I spend much of my free time writing.
Aside from family and friends (and my cat, of course), writing is the most important thing in my life. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I could hold a pen, and it has been the only constant in a lifetime of “maybe I’ll be a
vet lawyer architect diplomat journalist lawyer journalist teacher.” And yet, despite this—or maybe because of it—I keep my writing aspirations as a closely guarded secret. I’m not even sure I do it intentionally. It’s not a series of lies and spy maneuvers; I don’t duck under the table if I’m spotted writing in a coffee shop. I just look up one day and realize I’ve never mentioned my writing to a friend of five years. How do you bring it up at that point?
Of course, we all have parts of ourselves that we don’t broadcast, but I’m tired of feeling like two versions of me are constantly dueling for dominance: the respectable one that makes all the safe, responsible choices and the self-actualized one that pursues what matters to me. I’ve been working for years to resolve this duel, but clearly, I’ve still got some work to do.
I made this triptych two years ago for a class assignment. Admittedly, visual arts are not my strong suit, but I liked how these illustrated my feelings about my identity at the time. In the years that followed, I brought more aspects of my identity to the forefront, including coming out as bisexual and addressing and destigmatizing my mental health issues. Still, my writing—arguably the part least likely to ruffle any feathers—is the last piece of me I’m keeping hidden. For a while, I thought that it didn’t really matter, but I’m now realizing that my refusal to be open about my writing has set me on a career path that I don’t want.
I’m suddenly coming across to people as adrift, and many of them don’t understand—but, the truth is, I’ve been adrift for a while. I don’t know where land is, but it’s time to start swimming.