One of the interesting results of having a website is the email I receive from readers. I am always truly touched to hear from a reader, because, well, it indicates someone is actually reading what I write. Right?
I recently received an email with the subject line, “I feel like a looser.” The sender went on to tell his tale of woe and I read it and after wondered what to do about his email. I was tempted to reply and tell him that it’s actually “loser” not “looser,” but then I thought I might be reinforcing his feeling, as it were.
Grammar aside, I know how he feels. No matter the circumstances of our lives, there comes a time when everyone feels inadequate, stupid, unworthy. I’ve been feeling that way myself lately.
I’ve been working hard to figure myself out and I don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere. Last night, feeling antsy, I decided to organize my writing files. I have been writing since the first grade and I have a number of word docs to demonstrate my effort.
While culling through my files, I happened upon one entitled The Struggle by Alicia Morga. I opened it up and found this:
I’m like one of those loser writers. You know those pseudo-intellectuals that tell you without prompting that they’re writing a book. They are forever writing something, never publishing anything. I fancy myself a writer but let’s face it, I can’t write to save my ass.
There is something wonderfully romantic about calling yourself a writer. It conjures up images of tortured intellectuals, soft souls. Writers understand grammar; have huge vocabularies. Now see, if I was actually a writer I would have used a word like ___ (god I can’t even think of the word – checking the thesaurus) to describe the size of such a vocabulary.
Whenever I meet someone who actually says he writes for a living, I am instantly in awe. How does he do that? Do thoughts and great ways to put them together flood his mind? How can he be prolific enough to be employed?
The words are so bottled up inside my head. My thoughts go in thousands of directions. If you’re thinking attention deficit disorder – don’t worry, I’m way ahead of you. But no. It’s that I’m not a very good writer. Isn’t the essence of a writer the ability to transform words into the human experience? To transcend the very paper on which those words are written? Did you like that? (I reworded the sentence so it didn’t end in a preposition.)
I, however, have a terrible time translating my thoughts to paper. It takes time and I have a hard time sitting still. It takes thought and I say anything that comes into my head. I’m not sure what else it takes, because – well because, I’m one of those loser writers.
I read it and laughed out loud. I wrote that in 2001. It seems the struggle never ends – you’ll constantly have times when you feel like a loser. But, the difference today from where I was in 2001, is I’m far more gentle with myself. I may have the feeling, but you won’t catch me using that word to describe myself anymore.
Words have power. I’ve always known that and I had always struggled with words people in my past used on me, until I read The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, A Toltec Wisdom Book by Don Miguel Ruiz. The first agreement he outlines is “Be impeccable with your word.” He reasons if you wouldn’t scream the horrible words you think at your child or a loved one, why do you do it to yourself? He points out you only strengthen the evil words others put in your head by accepting them into your lexicon. After years of struggling with the negative voices in my head, the Agreement finally helped me flip the switch in my brain.
It’s not like I never have a negative thought – they do come up – it’s that now I instantly battle them with positive thoughts; the sillier the better. Now that I realize I have control over how I treat myself, I treat myself well. I’ve found this has made room in my life to get on with my life. I’ve found I’ve become a bit looser.