Collage withe the words "just write" at the bottom

Everyone on Earth uses words in some way

In some capacity, we all know words. Whether it’s by sound, look, feel or gesture, we somehow associate what’s going on within and around us with a word or a collection of effectively strung-together words.

Everyone, everywhere on Earth, uses words. We can communicate with each other through these tangible rudiments that literally convert what’s happening in our heads and hearts into something we can share. Therefore, words connect us. Besides what’s happening in and around us, we can also use them to make sense of what’s happening across the globe.

We can listen to the words—the thoughts—of others. Then, we can compare and contrast our words, the words that exist as a result of what’s happening in our heads and hearts, with others’ words. We can create a dialogue, a discourse between two or more beings that can lead to change.

The key point here is that we can do this, but more often than not, we don’t.

Making my writing public

This is why I’ve decided to make my writing public. By doing so, I’m able to become a participant in that interchange that’s necessary for personal and societal growth.

I got a Winnie-the-Pooh lock and key journal when I was seven years old for Christmas (which is hysterical to read now), and ever since then, I’ve written. I find solace in putting pen to paper. It’s soothing to get what’s in my head out, where I can see it.

I think I’ve always had a hyperactive mind and that’s why writing became not just something I did, but something essential to me remaining level-headed. Well, as level-headed as I can be!

I never shared any of the words I’d written. They were my words and my words alone.

Often, I’ve been honest with people, admitting that I write. But when asked what I write about, I’ve usually just responded with a tongue-tied chuckle and, “nothing important.” Up until recently, I didn’t think my words were worthy of being shared. I didn’t think they would make any sort of difference.

I’ve come to realize I was mistaken. Those words—my words—are important.

They’re important because they animate my thoughts, feelings, attitudes and behaviours. Words are how I make sense of the world and all the chaos that exists within me, and I find personal relief in bringing my words to the surface.

Using our words to express our feelings

I was sitting in a café writing honestly about the distaste I have for my body, and it crossed my mind that maybe, just maybe, others might find relief in the words that were bringing me comfort. I was writing to release harsh feelings and it was working. Perhaps the words I was hiding would ring true for someone else, somewhere else, going through a problem of their own.

No one else on Earth is like me. No one else will have the same thoughts as me. No one will feel the same way I do about anything. No one will interpret things in the exact same way that I do. No one will see the world from my eyes.

Words are a way to divulge our uniqueness, for better or worse. They’re a way for us to express that, hey, I feel like this and here’s why.

Four specific reasons to express ourselves in words

  • People only have the opportunity to listen if we use our words.
  • People only have the opportunity to relate if we use our words.
  • People only have the opportunity to query our perspective if we use our words.
  • People only have the opportunity to recognize their own stance on a particular matter if we use our words—if, by expressing ourselves, we give them the chance to consider that they might see things differently.

We only have the opportunity to talk about things if the things are made known.

Creating opportunity for others through words

Sharing our words is a way to give opportunity to others. If we express what’s happening within us, others are given the opportunity to consider what’s going on inside them.

If we’re going through similar stuff, we can talk about it.

If we’re going through different stuff, we can talk about it.

If we agree, we can talk about it.

If we disagree, we can talk about it.

I have all these journals: pages on pages on pages of written words articulating love, loss, anger, joy, fear, sadness and anxiety. Writing them helped me get through some torturous difficult times—losing family members, breakups, career changes, drunken missteps, cross-country moves, an eating disorder and paralyzing anxiety.

I’m the only one who’s laid eyes on these pages. I’m the only one who’s read how it felt to experience those things in my body. I’m the only one who’s read how I moved through them.

But I’m not the only one facing those struggles. I’m not the only person who’s dated a jerk, hated their body, drank to forget or switched careers in search of a more fulfilling life. I’m not the only one.

So, why did I hide these experiences? Why have I packed my words away, acting as if they don’t, and never did, exist? Why am I not reaching out, connecting with others through experiences that many of us know all too well?

It’s terrifying—yet helpful—to expose yourself

Well, I haven’t reached out because it’s scary. It’s terrifying to expose yourself. Becoming open means you’re just that—open. You’re vulnerable, unguarded and inexperienced at living in this new territory. In the past, I’ve thought about becoming open, but whenever I get close to going there, I retreat to the confines of my solitary journals. I become quiet. I conceal my words.

This is about vowing to stop. It’s about pledging to end the secrecy of my words. I’ll take on the challenge of making my head and heart accessible.

The truth of the matter is that you never know who you’ll benefit by expressing yourself. You never know who in the world will read your words and think “you get it” or, “you’re clueless and you ought to contemplate this.” Either way, it’s meaningful.

The truth of the matter is that our words can make the world a better place. After we make our words known, there are less secrets than there were before, and secrets are one thing that make and keep us sick.

Be heard and listen

I encourage you to find your words. Find your words and make them known, however you can. Don’t be discouraged if there’s backlash, because there almost inevitably will be. Listen to the backlash and view it as fuel for constructive conversation—that pragmatic discourse that the world needs more of.

Your words are important.

Be heard, but also listen.

You … I … us … them … the world … won’t thrive by being silent.

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image: Just Write by Melissa W Edwards via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)