A series of lyric inspired blog posts on craft and inspiration counting down to the next Coheed & Cambria concert? I don’t mind if I do.
There are a lot of misconceptions about writers—that we’re all a little eccentric, maybe even a little insane, that we’re socially awkward introverts with no friends, that we’re pretentious geniuses, that we’re insecure alcoholics, that we wallow in the same torture that we secretly relish because all suffering is a means to a good story.
Ok, so maybe some of these are true. But while stereotypes and assumptions never lead to understanding, there are a few specific stigmas about being a writer that should stop being ridiculed and start being embraced.
I grew up, more or less, as an only child (don’t ask, it’s complicated), and I was one those kids who was always in my own head—making up stories, talking to people who weren’t there, imagining landscapes and adventures that in all reality never extended beyond my own backyard. When I got a little older this imaginative streak spurred white lies and ridiculous rumors—anything I could use to shock and entertain my fellow classmates and around middle school it inspired my first attempt at a novel which contained curse words I hadn’t even learned the true meaning of yet.
But the more I matured, the more I eventually mellowed out and finally settled into my current personality—the stone-faced, silent, perpetual daydreamer who would rather curl up with a good book than interact with other human beings. This contentment with solitude always scared my mother. She’s the exact opposite of me—a social butterfly who craves human connection—and when I wasn’t following suit she immediately thought something was wrong. She pushed me, for years, to join clubs, go to parties, to just “be normal.” And it wasn’t long before I started to question if maybe she was right. If maybe I was a little odd or if nothing else just boring.
So I’d tried to fit in, developing a skillset many of us introverts possess which we use in social situations to convince people we’re actually having a good time, that we’re really extroverts just like them. Now there is nothing wrong with being an extrovert. Pretending to be one was actually kind of fun sometimes. But it just wasn’t me.
I walk into a room full of people and I’m totally drained. I shut down. I can’t think. My mojo is all out of wack and it’s just uncomfortable. But luckily I’ve come to realize that doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with me. This is just who I am. And I’m not alone.
Once I realized that this is how I was made, all of the guilt and shame I felt about being different just went away. I suddenly felt vindicated in my realization; stronger, as if now that I was equipped with this truth about who I was I could finally start living the life I wanted. It’s ok if I like to stay in my pajamas all weekend, in the dark, staring at my laptop. It’s ok if I’m not the one making everyone laugh at the dinner party. It’s ok if I’m not into singing Christmas carols, or making small talk at work.
Living up to other people’s expectations will never be more important than being myself, nor will it ever be as satisfying. So no more apologizing for being an introvert, for living more in my own head than I do in the real world, for choosing to be a writer and more importantly no more apologizing for being myself.