“Words are loaded pistols.” – Jean-Paul Sartre
I once wrote a short story about a boy who was mute because he realized that each time he spoke, he gave a piece of his soul to the person listening.
Obviously, if anything, I’m the opposite. But I still think every time you speak, you’re giving a piece of yourself to whoever is listening. I think we forget how powerful words can be, we kind of have to forget how powerful they can be, because if we didn’t we would be like the boy in my story, & just stop talking.
Personally, I can’t help but be honest about what I think and feel regardless of consequences, which is often problematic. It’s a habit I’m trying to break, or at least to control a little better. But I think it’s hard for people to tell the truth. It’s hard to be truly yourself in your words because you’re giving a piece of who you really are to someone, and that’s scary. It’s much easier to develop a persona or a facade to hide behind, to say what you think people want to hear.
But I think that’s also dangerous, not only because it’s morally questionable but also because I think often the people who take that route forget who they were before they started lying. The lie becomes the truth of who they are because their true self rots away as anything would, hidden from the light of day for so long.
I’m just trying to say that finding your voice is scary. And it doesn’t matter how good your vocabulary and spelling are, or how much your parents loved you, it’s always scary to create something that then becomes a piece of who you are, whether it be a journal entry or a stupid crayon drawing, a blog post, a youtube video… that scariness never goes away, the way butterflies in your stomach on a first date never go away.
But I think that’s okay. Maybe it’s scary because when we expose our inner worlds to other people, we get feedback that sometimes contradicts the things we either want or need to believe about the world and about ourselves, and it’s much more comfortable to stay in the tiny room of our skulls and pretend that we don’t need other people, that we’re much too complicated and misunderstood for other people to ever really understand. But the truth is that every person you meet understands something about you that you don’t. It’s a truth I’ve learned time and again after having many of those people weaponize the things I failed to understand about myself against me.
And the fact that I was stuck in my own illusions doesn’t make what they did okay. But it goes to show that if you don’t involve other people in the process of creating yourself, you’re in for a rude awakening when they choose to involve themselves in ways that will either make you stronger, or break you.
But some things need to be broken so that they can be rebuilt, and the ego is one of those things. If it isn’t constantly being challenged, questioned & rearranged, it will become the monster that is your undoing.
All of which is to say, do the scary thing. Put yourself out there and speak from the heart even when the people around you give feedback that hurts you. Use that pain to become better, to become stronger, to push yourself to show them how wrong they were to underestimate you.
If words are loaded pistols, you have a choice. Stay safe in the bubble of your own mind – create a private, untouchable paradise just for you, guarded by the walls of your skull, or… choose a target, and start practicing your aim.