Most papers I wrote in school were plagued with red marks and the reoccurring phrase: “awkward sentence.” In fact, that statement was used so much that I have screenshots of the squiggly line with the words written above, etched into my memory. No matter how hard I’ve tried, they won’t go away.
Over the years, I’ve taken the criticism I’ve received of my writings to heart. Essentially, all of critiques, well intended or not, reinforced what I had already been told—I write awkwardly. Since the word “awkward” is never used to exemplify a positive experience, it’s not hard to imagine that this repetition had negative effects on my desire to write. It didn’t matter what it was for, I accepted the reality that I was a “bad writer” and that got me out of writing pretty much anything of importance. After all, who wants the “bad writer” to take lead on a group project or advertising copy? Me either.
In college, I confided with one of my professors that I was really struggling in his class. He asked me a handful of questions and promptly diagnosed me with a “learning disorder.” Immediately afterward, he stated that his wife dealt with these kinds of “issues” and that gave him the moral authority to diagnose me. Great, so not only am I a bad writer, but now I have a learning disorder. No wonder my motto in college was “C’s get degrees.” I was convinced.
It’s only been in the past five-to-six years that I’ve dared to challenging these, and other voices. Before then, these people represented the authority and no matter what I thought, they were right. So, when teachers told me I couldn’t write or worse yet, that I have a learning disability, I believed them. As much as I didn’t want to, I did, I have and to some degree, I still do.
So, why do I write this blog?
As much as I would like to say that I write to become a “Tribe” leader, grow a following or boost my stats, it’s not like that for me. Sure, I get distracted by those ambitions, but at the end of the day, I write to silence the voices and the resistance. I write to prove to myself that I’m not a bad writer. I write to, in some ways, prove to my teachers that they were and are wrong.
Seth Godin has been one of the primary catalysts in helping me re-evaluate the things that have impacted my life the most. To be honest, this has given me an incredible amount of permission to challenge the voices and systems that have shaped who I am to this day. What I am finding is, it’s not that they were totally wrong, but they weren’t entirely right.