I recently started reading a blog that is so good, so good, that every single post has me either laughing or crying. Often both. (It’s hard to choose a favorite, but this post has my heart firmly entwined around its little finger.) Glennon writes with such humor and candor and ridiculous grace that my day is always better for reading her, but one thing in particular has stuck with me. She mentions how storytelling and shamelessness are her strengths, the gifts that fuel her unique purposes in life. To this, I say Rock on, sister! with accompanying fist-pumps.
To myself, however, I say something less celebratory like Huh. and finger the edges of my own uncertainty over the future. The decision to leave my job this year was hard-won, but it only feels like the lifting of my foot before choosing in which direction to step. Questions, doubts, worries, and more questions rise in quick succession these days, and I kick myself under the desk for consistently accomplishing less now that I have more time at my disposal.
My sense of social guilt has nagged at me for years now about not having a “brand,” a platform, a niche, a signature—whatever word best conveys direction and potential. Now, it’s morphing from unfocused guilt to true, urgent need as I look out over this blank-page year and ask, God, what the hell am I supposed to do with this?
I need to write like I need to breathe; that much is clear. It’s also clear that I’m not so much a storyteller as I am a thought painter, watching concepts take color and shape beneath my fingers. My brain-waves on any given day might pull toward mothering or spirituality or travel or the creative life or brownies; in fact, if I find myself slipping into a topic rut, I instinctively stop writing. I have a wild suspicion that if I rehash old material, my blog and everyone reading it will lapse into comatose boredom.
But isn’t that what a brand essentially is? The same lines of thought tackled from a variety of angles? A stamp of consistency that draws people with similar interests to comment and contribute and build a like-minded community? That’s just it—I don’t think I’ve been exactly the same person for any two days of my entire life. In the constant struggle and exhilaration of change, it’s hard enough to keep tabs on who I am without also nailing down what I’m about. Besides brownies, I mean.
I’m embarrassed to be outing myself as a lifelong flibbertigibbet, which just goes to show that I do not share Glennon’s gift of shamelessness. It could be that this state of flux is my strength, but I have a hard time seeing how something so vague and unwieldy can result in the kind of direction that gets someone up before dawn.
I’m not fishing for insta-answers here, though your speculations and stories are absolutely welcome. I’m simply painting my thoughts out as wide strokes on a blurred background in hopes that in the process, I’ll catch a glimpse of my bigger picture.