The Hardest Part of Being a Writer? Being an Odd-Shaped Person in a Regular Sort of World.
I was one of those kids that just never really fit in. It wasn’t any one thing that separated me from the herd, it was more like a collection of things. I wasn’t competitive and I didn’t like sports. The latest trends tended to escape me and I usually gave weird answers whenever anyone asked me a question. I also asked weird questions when it was the other way around. During elementary school and then junior high and finally high school, it was always the same. I had friends. People did like me. But there was always something off, something about me that just didn’t fit.
I tried a variety of different strategies to deal with this. I tried being a chameleon and copying what the other kids around me were doing. That didn’t work. I tried swinging all the way to the other end of the spectrum and being totally and extremely weird, and that didn’t work either. So, somewhere around late adolescence/early adulthood I resigned myself to the fact that I was an odd-shaped person in a regular kind of world and I would probably always feel out of place.
But then I discovered that I was a writer.
Suddenly, my odd-shaped self started to make sense. The visions I saw and voices I heard didn’t mean I was insane, they were indicators of characters to meet and stories to tell. My insatiable curiosity about other people didn’t mean I had attachment issues, it meant that I was wired to tune in deeply to other humans and possibly tell their stories too. The way I could become so emotional over a piece of music or a few lines of poetry didn’t mean I was overly sensitive, it meant that something inside of me needed to be nourished by beauty.
Slowly, I started to see myself in a different way and I began to reframe my experience of being in the world. But it didn’t happen overnight and I never reached some sort of finish line where the inner work was “done.” In fact, the more I grew into this new writer person who accepted herself as she was, the more challenging life seemed to get sometimes.
One of the biggest struggles I had was with the issue of alignment. Because I had grown up in a small town and within a school system that I never felt compatible with, I was used to feeling out of alignment with my surroundings and my social network. It seemed normal to feel like “the weird one,” normal to feel unseen, unheard, unappreciated, ignored, and rejected. But once I began embracing my weirdness, this feeling of misalignment went from seemingly normal to absolutely intolerable. More and more, I felt suffocated and trapped by certain environments and mindsets, especially those found in mainstream society and corporate America.
More and more, I couldn’t stomach not being able to be myself, all the time, no matter what anyone else thought of that.
So, again, I returned to the writing. Writing my memoir was the first big step. I spoke my truth and then set it down on the page and released it into the world. That book said This is me! like nothing else could. It was every dark secret and hard truth I had carried inside for so long. But after I published it, I wanted more. I wanted to keep expressing myself as honestly as I could and keep creating the magical things I saw in my mind and felt in my heart and I wanted to do that as my life’s work.
Once I owned those true desires that sprang from my soul, that’s when all my problems with alignment began to really shift.
That’s when old unsupportive friends dropped out of my life and new loving friends came in. That’s when I felt the confidence to experiment with the kind of novels I wanted to write and try my hand at other things, like public speaking and teaching. That’s when I truly began to blossom and become the writer I was meant to be.
Once I consciously said it to myself and the Universe — THIS is what I want, I want to be heart aligned with myself, my work and my writing community — that’s when the Universe started to deliver, big time.
Everything changed for me. Suddenly my weirdness was a gift and my crazy ideas were precious jewels to be examined. The visions and voices that had dogged me for so long fell into an easy rhythm with my brain and revealed the next story I needed to write. And suddenly too, I stopped feeling like something was wrong with me. I stopped feeling like I would never find my odd-shaped place, because I was already there. And I fit into it perfectly.
If you are a writer, then I’m willing to bet you’re also an odd-shaped person like me, and I know you probably felt the same pain I did growing up, or maybe you still feel it even now. But the truth of the matter is the world needs us, now more than ever. Your weirdness and your messy crazy creativity are the most valuable gifts you could ever ask for in this life.
Let’s get to work using them.
Lauren Sapala is the author of Firefly Magic: Heart Powered Marketing for Highly Sensitive Writers, a guide to help any HSP, INFJ, INFP, or introvert writer move past resistance to selling and marketing their work. She is also the author of The INFJ Writer, a writing guide made specifically for sensitive intuitive writers.