Still Scared

I started this month-long writing journey with a post about how sharing is scary, based on past experiences and the anticipated anxiety I knew I’d have writing about personal topics. In thinking through what’s both top of mind and a fitting conclusion, I wanted to reflect on this same concern in this final post. For reference, here’s the full twenty-nine-day archive–thanks a lot, leap year!

All of these posts were very personal, ranging from the stories of how I came to feed the neighborhood crows, make three dozen muffins a week, and turned into a park person, to my beef with the design industry, a life changing injury, and thoughts around anti remote work sentiments. I always followed where my head was, even when it was incredibly taxing and set a weird tone for the day. I gave my best daily hours to these letters. I don’t regret that, but it’s not something I could commit to longer-term.

Through it all, it never necessarily got easier. The only thing that improved was the routine itself since I quickly got used to reserving this time. I’d start writing as soon as Ben left for school and aim to wrap up within 1.5-3 hours. I ate while writing and pushed appointments back to the afternoon for the month. I knew that if I waited past lunch, these wouldn’t get done–my mind would be entirely elsewhere. This self-imposed hard deadline actually worked pretty well. I wrote about ADHD this month, and this structure proved essential in pulling this off.

The sharing side of the project remained confusing, and the uncertainty of what’s too much never lessened. Even now, I don’t know how long I will keep these posts up. I’m not really sure what comes next if anything. I like this as a stand-alone project, but I can also see the need in the larger community for a space where weekly letters around vulnerability, hard lessons learned, and unique insights are shared in an open and safe space. I feel like this could be something bigger, or it could also be what it is–I’m happy with it either way.

Throughout the month, I still frequently found myself wondering if I was oversharing and worrying about how my thoughts would be perceived by others. Sitting on whether or not something was too weird, too emotional, too angry, or too preachy was a fairly frequent occurrence. The only things that helped move each day’s file into the publishing folder were those who voiced having similar feelings and the near-complete inability to write about things I don’t care about. So, even at the finish line of a sharing marathon, I still think defaulting to sharing is the right choice for me–it’s scary, but all things worth doing are.

Aside from the obvious time commitment, the most challenging part of this project was looking back through old photos to pull from for specific posts. Looking through glimpses of Very Good Times, when in contrast, this past year has been one of the darkest of my life, is painful. I’m trying to remember that I will have good times again. They’ll probably look different, which is only natural and doesn’t have to mean worse. I’m trying to remember that it’s a collection of these good times and bad that make us who we are. I’m trying and often failing to remember that my preconceptions around how I think things should be are directly adding to the distress.

Ultimately, I’m really glad I undertook this challenge. Carving out time to process what would otherwise be fleeting thoughts proved to help better understand them. Misunderstood thoughts can fester and impact us in ways we are not aware of, and this served as an exercise in combating that. I’ve never kept a journal, but I can better understand their potential benefit after these Breakfast Letters. PLUS, what better way to verify I’m human when that soon becomes our most significant competitive advantage.

Mostly, though, it was a great experience to go through it with other Wigglers: Sarah, Matt, Nick, and Jeff. We cheered each other on, helped one another through blockers, and served as go-to gut-checkers when something was feeling questionable. I know with 100% certainty that I would not have been able to complete this undertaking without this support. And it would have just been so boring without them–I’d never recommend someone do this alone.

This project has reaffirmed my passion for communities, and sharing vulnerabilities and deep inner thoughts makes them stronger and more genuine. I’ve always defaulted to contributing to and building communities since I need them and find it to be among the most fulfilling and worthwhile ways to spend time. So, through these efforts, I feel closer to my fellow Wigglers, and it’s served as a significant affirmation for me regarding how to differentiate a space from the countless sterile, unfriendly options. I’m rereading The Obstacle Is The Way and am reminded of this quote:

Help your fellow humans thrive and survive, contribute your little bit to the universe before it swallows you up, and be happy with that. Lend a hand to others. Be strong for them, and it will make you stronger.

I believe this writing challenge as a whole has served as such a contribution. I’m grateful for the community that made it possible, and I’m glad we had this time together before we get swallowed up–I feel stronger and more prepared for whatever form that takes.

I will NOT see you tomorrow over breakfast, but I hope it’s a great one.

February 29, 2024

A tiny project byJoni Trythall inspired by friends at Wiggle Work.