In Defense of Living out Loud
As a tiny, frizzy haired kindergartener with an affinity for catching the attention of everyone I met, I made the walk to the portables stationed next to my red brick elementary school a few times a week. I still contend I needed speech therapy because my “r” and “w” tended to swap places. My mom says I made the trip out to the portables to learn to slow down when I spoke. I’d speak so fast entire words were left out of my sentences. My husband says I talk twice as fast as he thinks, so you’d be wise to believe my mom’s version of my kindergarten year.
In first grade, I declared that my dream was to be an author, have ten kids, and a pet whale who would live in the pool in my backyard. Having endured childbirth once so far, I have an inkling my offspring will stay in the single digits. My love of whales has been replaced by the realization that I am not actually the kind of person who loves to own pets. But, that hankering to write, to craft together narratives and essays that bring a little extra light into the world, has lingered.
I always felt a bit out of place, rocking poufy, curly hair in the age of stick straight, flat ironed locks, with legs better shaped for skinny jeans than the flared jeans of my childhood. And while classrooms and church pews demanded I be silent, I couldn’t make the words stop coming.
I still can’t.
When I picture the quintessential author, I see a quiet soul, curled under a cozy blanket, coffee mug closeby, forming sentences in silence, or perhaps with soft jazz humming in the background. When I read the words of my most beloved modern day authors, women who are reshaping the way creatives think and do, who are inviting us into their lives with honesty and a chance to see God is bigger than we dreamed, I hear them describe themselves as decidedly introverted. Words are the way they meet the world because they’d prefer not to be bothered with the crowds and the noise.
There is no space for me and other creative extroverts in these spaces. Here I am, a grown woman still struggling to find my niche. In my most emotional moments, I am still that awkward kindergartner skipping words because they come to the surface violent and fast. On my worst days, I hear the teachers telling me to sit down, be quiet, talk less. I listen, because I’ve believed the lie that my words, ideas, thoughts, all that big magic burning to come out, will take up too much space. And I skip over words because maybe I use too many, and they can’t possibly all matter.
On my best days, I recognize that missing whatever it is that allows other people to meet their ideas and feeling before they escape their mouth or their pen, is a unique gift. I think I’ve heard it called a filter. I don’t know these things until I speak and write them. And so I get to meet myself as I really am. I can’t hide what I don’t yet know. Together, me and all the listening ears and reading eyes are discovering this life of mine, syllable by syllable. I am unearthing every secret of my life for the world to see. I am verbally undressing my soul for internet strangers with little hesitation. I need everyone in my life to see me, to hear me, to serve as my personal diary.
If you are one of us, one of the loud ones, the ones who need to meet your feeling for the first time as a word written, spoken, or shared, you are right where you need to be. Our creativity is a different brand. We are more Pollock, less Monet. Our life canvas is layered with the color of every conversation, every journal entry, every single word we’ve ever known. This is how we keep on showing up to our life, sure of who we are. This is why people are the spark to our fire- the very reason we must keep crafting. We’re woven together with all the noise, all the faces, all the souls swirling all around us.
But we’ve been shown a thousand times that sacred space tends to hold quiet like the inside of chapels adorned with stain glass, the vibrant rays of sunrise, the moment before a kiss. But could it be that there sacred space can be found in the humming of a dinner party, where everyone lingers for couch conversation, in the crowded city streets where a thousand lives intersect, in the ever climbing volume of a conversation between friends who just can’t keep it all in?
Here’s a risk I’m willing to take: that for a few of us, the inspiration and drive is not in being still, and untangling ourselves from the inside. We get to invite the world to tell our story with us, to be our story. We’re not missing a piece. No, we’re living out loud sharing all our vibrant souls, unhindered and free. And right there, in that explosion of dreaming and loving and abandoning all the negativity, we can see our self in the mirror. We aren’t skipping words. We are using every single one of them, because we’ve got damn good words to share. And a lot of them.