Defining Self

Because I had difficulty absorbing the information given in school, and because I failed tests, I believed that I was stupid. Because I believed that I was stupid, I believed that I was inferior. Because I believed I was inferior, I did a lot of things and ended up in a lot of places that were not healthy for me.

I understand now that my problems with school had nothing to do with me or my intellect. My problems in school simply had to do with over-stimulation. The only way I could handle being around so many people, so many days a week, so months a year, so many years of my life, was simply to shut down parts of myself. I allowed my mind to drift to a more peaceful place. It’s called day dreaming, and I did it every day, several hours a day (as often as I could) until I learned in eleventh grade that I could skip classes altogether and still pull the same grade.

I barely graduated from high school. I had no plans for the future. The prevailing advice I received was pick something now to do for the rest of your life. Writing? No not that. It was confusing and it was awful and I was lost. I married a man I shouldn’t have at age eighteen just to claim a future.

I’ve done a lot of thinking on my experience in school. I’ve also written and published some books. Writing those books took a lot of focus. Writing historical novels means that I have to digest some pretty dry material. I could not focus in school. I could not digest the dry material and deliver it up onto a test. These were skills I didn’t know I had until I found them while writing.

What I also found by writing was an intuitive process of working with a story and a character. I believe that during school I was also involved in an intuitive process, and that was the process of self-protection. I could not fit into this system of learning, but I could survive it, and I did survive it.

Publishing books wasn’t (and isn’t) easy either. A great deal of the writing world is caught up in the education world. There is nothing wrong with this, but it took me a very long time to understand that I belonged, that there actually is a room in the house for me. The room was always there for me, even before I published my first book, but I didn’t know that. No one granted me the room or showed me the way to it. I’ve had to find it. And I’m glad I’ve found it. And if you’re feeling similar to the way I felt at times, shut out, like you don’t belong, like you’ll never fit in, I want to reassure you in a deep way, not in a shallow, dismissive way, that your feelings matter, and that you also matter. There is a room in the house for you. I don’t know what it looks like, and neither do you. You might imagine that best selling authors get the biggest rooms, with the best views. You might imagine that this house only has rooms for published writers. You might imagine that publishing is the only way to pay the rent on your room, but that’s not really seeing the house for what it is. Because the house is always changing, always morphing, always mysteriously becoming. Just like you. And me.

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2 Responses to Defining Self

  1. Nancy, I really enjoy and find great value in your posts, especially this one.

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