A few years ago, a friend introduced me as a writer. I wouldn’t say it out loud myself because I ‘hadn’t published anything yet.’ I liked the sound, so I adopted the label and planted a flag which said “I’m As Ready As I’ll Never Be.” It was as if I dug a trench and things started flowing to me like water. Little writing opportunities found me. People began to seek me out for small things, and then big things. All because I imagined it into being.
It felt premature for my friend to call me a writer, but I found that I caught up to it.
As people expected it of me, I behaved like one. And when I behaved like one, I became one.
I found the same thing with ‘Brave.’ I used to avoid controversy and uncomfortable situations. These last two years have taught me the value of heading straight into the heat, but not in an outraged banshee, veins bulging, tobacco spewing way.
I imagined my friend saying, “Sheri, you need to write that because you’re the Brave One.” I tried on the label and adopted the persona. I discovered the courageous voice is somewhere in between avoidance and the banshee; it is firm, true, wry, diplomatic, compassionate, direct.
I began to speak up (verbally and in writing), pretending I had people who counted on it, who wouldn’t go away until they heard it, who hid behind me and pushed me forward so I would say it. I imagined them celebrating my words because “I was the brave one.” And I imagined my bravery into being. My inner monologue became I own this 9 sq. ft. of space where I stand; I own this collection of words I birthed, even if they’re ugly. Now, I even look different when I write or act bravely. One morning, I started out drained and beige. But after typing words that were going to give me hives, I did a double take as I walked by a mirror and thought, who’s THAT? She looked very alive.
In 2019, your courageous words are needed, words that cause discomfort, inspiration, laughter, pondering, healing.
It is brave to aim yourself into new subject matter and different audiences, to submit your piece or opinion when it’s merely good enough and not perfect, to showcase your vulnerability or to query forums that haven’t established a reputation yet. Even if you don’t feel brave, say it out loud and build the suit ahead of time. Step into this fully formed outfit and see how quickly you walk and speak like the Brave One.
Sheri Hoffmann is a writer, public speaker, and creator of the “Contented Yes” workshop series. Sheri has presented her seminars to audiences in the East Bay and North Bay areas. In addition to performing in the 2015 production of Listen To Your Mother San Francisco, she also writes about the ridiculous, the mundane and a variety of social issues. She is a fierce advocate for writers’ voices and very protective of their writing time. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org to consult with you or speak to your group about boundaries, whether you’re a writer and/or one who is relentlessly tapped for their time and skills.