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June 02, 2012

Self-confidence is not

not my strong suit.  You may not know it, but I assure you it is true.  Each time I click publish on this little blog, I freeze and wonder if I am doing the right thing.  If pouring out my thoughts and feelings is the best way to share my voice or if I should just save to draft.  Would my writing really be missed?

My lack of belief in myself actually held up my writing for years.  I could write in class...high school, college, no issues.  However, generally only one person was reading and judging.  The works were not read before anyone, not published for the world to view.  If I received a low grade, I could blame it on a lack of sleep or not enough research.  It generally did not happen, since I truly love to write, but I felt I had an out if it did.

Yet despite deeply enjoying this method of self-expression, I completely feared the idea of ever sharing my thoughts with others.  I had grand ideas of writing a work of fiction that would rock the world, but couldn't get past the idea of submitting my thoughts to anyone other than my husband.  Then blogging came along...

I must admit, I dipped my toes in slowly.  I did not utilize it as fully at first, at least not on a regular basis and I rue that decision to an extent.  However, outside factors, such as Mom dying and frequent moves, worries about others reading my thoughts....all played into my decision to be more careful.  It was not as though I was not honest, just perhaps not as open.

Then things started to change...I realized when Peter was preparing to depart for his first unaccompanied tour that I could no longer hold back.  I knew that writing might be the only thing that got me through the year.  One quarter into the UT and the worst day of my life occurred (okay, several worst days).  My honesty became more intense as it was the only outlet that worked for me.  Talking, crying, screaming...none of that helped.  Writing?  If nothing else, it gave me at least one good night's sleep after a post.  The beauty of it?  I was so miserable and wrapped up in that misery that I didn't stress about what others might think.  I wrote because it freed my soul from the sadness that enveloped it so completely for months.

Then something magical happened.  I found the ability to write outside of the blog.  I realized that I finally had the confidence to let someone else read my writing and decide if it should be published.  Within a year, I had two articles published.  Not prolific, but for someone with a dearth of self-confidence, it could be worse.  And somewhere in there, I found my voice.  

I knew then that I could not only utilize the blog for catharsis, but perhaps to bring awareness.  In February, I penned this post regarding my feelings towards a certain organization in which I had completely lost faith.  It had been waning for years, but a recent decision by the corporation (let's face it, that's what it is) made me realize how angry I was.  This company theoretically should have been able to save me from quite a bit of agony.  Instead, they did nothing but solicit money from me, time and time again.  No cure, no offers of help, just more requests in the mail sandwiched in between the medical bills and EOBs.

The response to that post was overwhelming.  I knew I had touched a nerve and that people were waking up to the realization that there was more than enough awareness about my issue, but not enough action. It occurred to me that perhaps I should share the post on a greater level.  

I had bandied about the idea of attending something like BlogHer for years, but with my lack of self-confidence, the idea just scared me.  So many people, so many new people that I just couldn't fathom it, even for two days.  This year, however, it seemed different.  I wouldn't have to travel far, I'd likely be able to find care for the kids, and best of all, I might know a few people attending.  I then read about the Voices of the Year nominations, read that they were open and realized it was now or never.

I could attempt to share my post on a greater level or forever hold my peace.  Within minutes, I had purchased a ticket (nervewracking in and of itself) and then nominated my own post.  Odd to some, I suppose, but I finally had the gumption to try.  If I failed, no big deal.  I honestly didn't think I could win in any respect as there was simply too much competition.  So, I did the best thing I could do:  I forgot about it.

Then last night I received an email from BlogHer.  I was knee-deep in so many other issues, and didn't even think it might be an official notification.  I then read  and fully comprehended the message. I was stunned to read that my post was selected and I was officially an Honoree for the OpEd category of 2012 Voices of the Year.   

I had actually been debating until last night whether or not I should keep the ticket.  The beginning of Peter's R&R had been changed to coincide with that weekend and given how little time we have together, I wasn't sure I should leave.  However, now I'm viewing it as a sign.  I'm going to go and give it all I've got, no matter how much coffee it takes to make me less nervous.  Should you be there and see someone standing there quietly, quaffing several mochas and looking just one shade shy of a wallflower, please say hello.  I know I will be thrilled to make your acquaintance.



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I am just so thrilled for you Jen. You deserve it - for putting your heart and soul out there, educating people, and for just being you.

You and I have a date in NYC, Jen. Your post is tied to MY heart and soul. Maybe next year I will be brave and follow your lead. Meantime, I'm celebrating with you. I'm filled with joy. Your words are important to so many of us. Your words will make a difference. Your WORDS will help all of us to change the conversation. Together... we will make a difference. You are wonderful, my friend. Truly wonderful!

FANTABULOUS! So proud of you for submitting it!


Smiling big for you!! What an excellent gift to yourself. I know you will rock it!

Congratulations! And if it helps at all, I must say I am one who always appreciates your posts and what you share.

Congratulations!! How awesome!!

Wow... You have shared so deeply about your life. It is so motivating to read your blog and each sentence of this post.. Thank god you have gained confidence to share your life.. :) Thank you very good article thanks for sharing.

Good for you. You rock! That is so amazing that you were able to achieve that!

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