April marks a year of blogging. A year of directed, focused reflection and self-analysis.
The pieces are falling into place. I have a much better sense of who I am, what I have to offer others, my strengths, my abilities, my temperament and all the ways I have reason to be proud of how I’ve grown up, the person I’ve become.
I know that by having a blog, it should be obvious that I’m a writer. However, a recent social situation has made me take a harder look at the way I see myself.
When offering an introduction to a new group of people, the words “I’m a writer” did not flow out of my mouth. For some reason, since it’s not part of my official job, it seemed strange to identify myself in this way. So, I need to be more confident in acknowledging that I am a writer. It’s not just a secret hobby; it is very much part of who I am.
When high school began, I definitely was not ready for the high energy of Ellen. She was all about introducing herself to everyone and asking questions. There didn’t seem to be an off switch. For a major introvert like myself, it was off-putting in the beginning.
People who tend to be very loud and vocal end up getting on my nerves. It’s far too easy to write off their energy as annoying, though, so I have to be careful about that. It just takes time to understand where they’re coming from. (I’m sure many people initially think I’m not interested in what’s happening around me simply because I don’t say much at first.)
I’m not sure where the phrase “show me, don’t tell me” first originated. I think it was through exposure to creative writing exercises and other writing efforts. But I took that to heart. I took that seriously. And in many ways that influenced my approach to poetry writing.
You don’t want to just say “she was upset”; that doesn’t tell you much. But instead you describe the used tissues scattered on the bed, the box laying nearby, how her eyes are puffy. You acknowledge the remnants of a bowl of ice cream. You describe the girl curled up on a bed, clutching tight to a pillow or stuffed bear. These images offer more details, they help tell the story. She probably didn’t just screw up a pop quiz; it’s more likely that she had a fight with her boyfriend or they broke up.
I was much more interested in showing the details of a story and describing the scene versus being straightforward. I still had trouble balancing what was described and how much to describe rather than saying things outright. I often went overboard on the descriptions and imagery, especially early on, but I was trying to find my style, trying to figure out what worked. How much detail do you really have to give?
Since my preschool diagnosis of sensory processing disorder and the completion of eighth grade means about 10 years have passed, I thought I would do a review of how things have progressed. I’m looking to address these questions:
What areas seemed to have improved?
Have I grown out of anything?
What am I still struggling with?
Has anything new developed?
If you missed my big rundown of sensory issues, you can find it here. And don’t worry, throughout this list, there will be links back to appropriate blog posts to offer further explanation.
Looking back, I am so amazed at my level of awareness to surroundings. I knew being in public meant needing to put forth as much effort to be “good.” I distinctly remember being on my best behavior with relatives visiting, trying to smile and be happy. Once they left, my attitude changed almost instantly. I didn’t understand why it was so difficult to just stay happy.
It’s also why in high school I termed this phenomenon “being two-faced.” I was pleasant, trying to be as easy-going as possible at school and then all the emotions and irritations were let loose at home.
I grew up in a small town in South Carolina with two dedicated and involved parents and an older brother. Having an older brother meant Mom had some idea of what to expect and when certain milestones should be achieved. She recognized many differences in my progress and differences in my reactions to things. And I’m sure when she raised alarm at these, many people tried to shrug it off as “children grow at difference paces.”