(Note: I started writing this two months ago)
This prompt could not have come at a better possible time.
In my real life, there isn’t much I get complimented on. In fact, I just asked my husband his thoughts on this prompt. His response? A poor joke, followed by a, “I don’t know.” CoF, seriously, I think C.S. needs some husband boot camp.
All of the little girls at work love my hair. An elder creeper, insisting to talk to me despite me clearly wearing earphone and typing on WordPress for Blackberry, told me that I had pretty eyes. I was pretty glad the bus pulled up to the curb moments later.
Otherwise, I get quite the opposite of compliments. It’s okay, I’m used to it.
Here on WordPress, and especially everyone involved with the dialogue happening here on Pendulum, and on our local mental health blog A Canvas of the Minds, compliments are plentiful. I will spare details, mostly because I am embarrassed to talk about myself. And secondly, because I’m not sure I can completely believe it. I sit here and think, “If you only knew me.”
I find that I am most complimented on my writing. Believe me, I am ambivalent to share that for a number of reasons. First, I know that once a person reveals what appears to be a strength, it is preyed upon. In my youth, I was eager to display my intelligence and talents. There was always at least one person who was eager to take me down, either out of jealousy or just to prove a point of fallibility. Next, I am often unsure of how much truth there is in identifying a strength or talent. There is always some doubt and question of the validity of such a claim. What is the measure? Is it a popular opinion?
And finally, there is the self-doubt / humility aspect. I do not make any claim that I am better than anyone else. I am by no means a brilliant writer, and clearly not in the league of literary greats. Hardly by the standard of journalist and even fellow blog authors. I am not making an attempt to solicit compliments by saying these things. I am only stating that I have serious doubts as to the claims made of any talent I possess. However, I will not refute any opinion, favorable or unfavorable.
However, if there is one literary strength I have, I do know of it. I have always possessed an uncanny ability to find a verbal expression for emotions, thoughts, and experiences. Most often, I have had people approach me and say, “You grabbed it right out of my head, as if you lived in there with me.” Some ask, “How do you find the words?” To which I reply, “I really don’t know. It just comes out.”
The answer is absolutely honest when I provide it. I am unable to identify the mechanisms that produce the detailed emotions and internal experience. Imagination? Experience with the experience / emotion / thought itself? Education? Really, it is just something that was always there. But, I will admit that it is a craft that I’ve unconsciously refined throughout the years, just by practicing what has been just a hobby throughout my life.
I’ve mentioned this before. My poor eyesight has always been kind of a handicap for me. Back in my youth, my family could not afford to provide me with glasses more than once a year, or once every other year. Often times, I would have to wear an outdated prescription for an extended period of time, as my eyesight deteriorated. Sometimes, I would break a pair by accident, and I wouldn’t be able to get a new pair for upwards of a year. I learned to see and identify things by shape and color, rather than fine detail. I could identify people by voice alone. And one of the only hobbies I could really do without any difficulty was reading and writing, because I could only see about as far as my hand could go in front of my face. (Note: My vision has deteriorated so badly now that I can’t even see my hand as far as my face. In fact, I can’t even see a book at a normal distance. But, I have the means to correct my vision on my own now.)
I suppose I could consider it a talent, although I’m not sure how I stack up. I guess I should worry less about a basis for comparison and just do what I do, the best way I know how.
Finally, I’d like to thank the readers for their encouragement to write. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of necessity for my mental health. There are other times, like these projects, where it is a matter of a pleasurable hobby. And other times, most of the time, it is a way for me to get my message out and have a sense of purpose when it comes to my own mental health. I do not want to feel as if my suffering is in vain. I do not want anyone to ever have the feeling that they are alone in their own struggle with mental health. That is the worst feeling in the world, the loneliness, isolation, and fear that accompanies it.
Thanks for giving me a place to do this, encouragement to keep on, and an audience to hear me.