She told me to look straight at the camera and just be casual about it. And I said
“But I am so shy and awkward”
This was my first attempt to “put myself out there” as I asked a friend to take a photo of me as a “writer” (which I still have a problem calling myself one, honestly) that has an identity or a flair of who I am.
Yes. I know it sounds petty. But it doesn’t to me.
“Putting yourself out there”
One of my biggest fears as an introvert has always been “putting yourself out there”. To come out with my opinions and ideas. To show you what and how I look. To let you enter into my thoughts and read some tidbits of my life even though we may not know each other in real life.
All of these scare the heck out of me, only because there would be no turning back-including dealing the bad and loss in all form-once you let people into your lives. My thoughts, my stories and ideas are essentially a part of my life—a part of me.
Perhaps it started off with my mild social anxiety that I’ve overcome, or simply because I am a private person. An extremely private person.
I am scared of putting my raw emotions out in the open without letting any guard up like I had been in the past.
Years ago, I would have never done this. I would have never let anyone read what I’ve struggled with—let alone allow them to get to know me that easily.
I’ve built a wall for so long to protect my feelings, so that only those who are willing to climb those walls or those who are willing to break through it are “worthy” enough to understand who I am truly as a person. I don’t need to go into the details why but things happen and c’est la vie.
But protecting myself in this way too much only shambled my opportunities to love (not necessarily in a romantic way by the way) and show appreciation to those who I care most about.
So, if we know each other only by the surface, then chances are we might not go far or at least stay on the surface. And this is true for many relationships.
Overtime, I’ve also realised if I choose to “put myself out there”, it doesn’t mean anything more than me building a door and a few windows—decorated with my personalities—within those walls. I don’t have to make people climb or break through that wall and that I don’t need to hide forever.
That means, if you’re as scared as me or even more, “putting ourselves out there” doesn’t have to mean that people know everything about you but rather about what your cause or purpose.
Back then, writing was just a means for me to express myself.
The difference now is that I’ve turned writing from a passion to a hopefully a career—something that I am not used to mesh together, simply because it’s not something that I had never planned before.
Contradictory to being a private person, personal insightful stories and deep conversations are what I am drawn towards most. I’m drawn towards exploring our emotions and thoughts in the deepest way possible.
I didn’t realise that I love learning about them until I’ve started becoming more aware of what I do every day. I love reading about them. I feel inspired from them.
Some have their ways of curating their life story through poems and some translate their experience into abstract lyrics or art that only a certain people—those who’d look close enough or would stay long enough—understand.
But for introverts, putting ourselves out there are even more daunting than it already is.
Did you know Charles Darwin took 34 year (I mean 34 YEARS) to reveal his theory, for the fear of being attacked or rejected? He’s an introvert.
The span of his fear is older than me! And he’s not the only one.
I am not saying I’ll ever be revolutionary but the fact that they’ve showed how human they are behind their thoughts and ideas, is so relatable. They’re relatable because they’re just like you and I. They just have had an in-depth passion (or shall I say, purpose?) to pursue it that made them—them.
We can’t relate to all successful people because some of us have forgotten how human they are. Before they’ve reached where they are, they struggled. Just like you and me, but in our own little ways.
I mean, as Muslims, what’s the point of Jannah if life is heavenly all the time, right? And the very reason that this life becomes someone’s paradise is that they’re so afraid to die (not saying that I am not, but you get the point right?)
Doubts and fears in this context exist for good reasons anyway.
For if we don’t have any of them, we’d be so consumed by ourselves that we wouldn’t even realise our shortcomings. We’d live a life thinking we’re the best when realistically, we actually won’t ever be—as bitter as that sounds.
Overtime, you’ll grow tired of that fear and your drive to do whatever it is that you want to do will be bigger than your fear.
I’m still scared of writing sometimes. Not because I have nothing to say but because I am scared of the reaction I get (or the lack of it). Would it be worth my time to write this 1000-word long essay that people might not read but just me? At this phase in my life, I’d rather get criticism—no matter how harsh it may be—or I’ll never grow as a writer.
And just because I write something that matter to me—something that is personal to me—I need to remind myself that it’s not necessary for other people to accept and understand it.
We may read the same thing but our thought processes are so different.
One of the main reasons why I’ve chosen this path is because there’s nothing else that I am willing to put myself forth for.
Sometimes, when you hit almost a dead end, you’re bound to just do something unconventional to you—something that you wouldn’t do had your life been smooth and perfect.
I don’t have to travel too far back in time to remind me what my biggest fear is. I mean, it took me about a year to take this leap. It was only until I was frustrated enough—that I felt stuck in a rut—that pushed me and brought me here.
I thought it was just temporary. But the more I found something else—just to avoid my fear of failure as a writer—the more I’m drawn towards coming back.
So the question you might ask yourself is:
“What are you willing to put yourself forward if you want to no longer feel like in a rut?”
On the search of the photo that I’d like to represent myself as, I struggled to choose one that I was going to identify myself as a writer. It was like I needed to find my identity within those many—thankfully countable—options. Of course, you’d need a real identity to represent your work for people to trust you.
It took a while to accept that I needed to do it just because I wanted to make it as a career—my long-term work.
After all, it’s just a photo. It’s petty and it should be petty especially when my work will not be centered around anything but words.
It was only when my friend told me that “Maybe you feel like you’ve put a mask with this photo” when she suggested a photo to me that it hit me. And it’s true. Maybe I’ve been feeling like a fraud or experience this crazy “impostor syndrome” that people seem to experience for the fear of being found out that they are not exactly what they say they are.
That only means one thing.
I will be accountable for what I say and write.
This website already has its identity—the real me—and for all these time, I just wasn’t ready.
More than my fear of being judged is that I don’t do what I advise people to do—that all I am is my words but not my action.
But then that also means another thing.
That I can use this accountability to remind myself my core purpose of being a writer.
Overtime, after battling with my fear and doubts, I’ve come to peace. It was more than me being shy and awkward.
Putting myself out there challenged the way that I am willing to take accountable for as a person and as a writer.
In the end, there was only one left thing to do: “to be or not to be, that is the question” – Shakespeare (if this even makes sense in the context of my post)
Then I told myself this:
“Whatever you do when you decide to put yourself out there, do it for a good cause for this world and the next”.
PS/ Upcoming Friday post: Something along the line of general self-care habit (no more story!)