Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.             

                                                                        – –  Albert Einstein

When I sat down at the computer this morning, I was stunned
to see that I was about to write my 315th blog. How could I have written so much so consistently? How on earth could I have found things to say that I thought were worthy of sharing?

Being creative and innovative without copying someone else
requires self-acceptance and the belief that what you have to say has value. That you’re worth listening to. I was out to dinner a few evenings ago when a woman I had just met asked me, “Do you just go to the computer and write your blog in one shot? Do you know what you’re going to write about before you sit down to do it? Is it hard to feel that confident?”

I told her that I write my blogs over a few days. Sometimes I know what I want to say when I begin but more often than not, I have a bunch of false starts before I choose a topic and get into the swing. I have to find something that’s worth writing about. And it’s always hard to do, but I’m so used to it, it feels like I’m missing something when I don’t do it.

It takes courage to feel worthy of telling the truth but I always feel better when I unburden my heart, when I say the things that scare
me and make me feel inadequate. Or when I express pride in my accomplishments. It’s hard to do that, too, When I was six years old, I remember looking in the mirror and saying out loud, “I’m pretty.” My mother heard me and said sternly, “Don’t be vain.” She was giving me the message that it wasn’t okay to make positive comments about myself and it’s been a challenge ever since.

When I decided to write my memoir, I thought very seriously about how I was going to approach it. I could report the positive highlights of my life and tell some familiar stories. I had a lot of them. Or I could talk about the things that I felt proud of and the things I felt ashamed of, things that I celebrated, things I blamed myself for and wished I could take back and things I missed because I wasn’t paying attention. So I made a commitment to dig deep, to find the truth and put it on the page, no matter what it was, without shame or second thoughts. I vowed to find the courage to find worth in what I think and who I am, and I got in touch with my yearning to share my
experiences honestly and shamelessly with other people.

The above considerations come up each time I sit down to write. My students know how scary it is to open their hearts and reveal the
truth without self-judgment. It’s a challenge to believe that they’re worth it. One of my students gets sweaty hands before she reads. Another one is so sure his pieces are terrible, he stammers when he begins. One student apologizes for making it too short and another one apologizes for it being too long. We just can’t give ourselves a break and trust that if our writing is meaningful to us, it will be valuable to other people. I have a teacher in my life who reminds me
that we are all fellow travelers so if we feel something, other people are feeling it, too.

When my memoir came out, I was invited to a women’s book club. Someone asked me, “How could you tell the truth about that violent
relationship you had? Doesn’t it make you feel ashamed and naked?”

“Yes, it does,” I said. “But it also makes me feel connected to other women. Good writers say the things that other people are afraid to say out loud.” I gazed at the women around me and said, “Whatever you say is worth saying because you are not alone in your thoughts and opinions.”

When I was a ghostwriter, different clients had different relationships with their value and worth. The all too familiar “imposter syndrome” showed up and made them believe that they were pulling one over on everyone, that they were not worth the attention they were getting. I had a client who was so afraid to tell the truth, when I asked her how she felt about her parent’s divorce, she got an instant migraine and I had to leave.

But one job really stands out. I was writing a memoir for a famous diva who insisted on putting the word “secret” in her title. I was
concerned because she was such a private person, but she surprised me during our interviews by telling me some tidbits that no one knew about her. I was optimistic about how the book would sell, it was raw and truthful, but the night before the deadline, she removed the juicy parts because she was afraid to expose herself. When it was published, people bought it because of her name
and the title and it quickly landed on the bestseller lists. They couldn’t wait to read about her secrets. But it fell off the list just as quickly because she didn’t tell any secrets and her readers were disappointed. If she hadn’t promised to to reveal some private things, her readers wouldn’t have felt cheated. But she didn’t give them what she promised and her fans didn’t refer the book to their friends.

I’ve learned over time that however it looks from the outside, none of us are all that special. And we’re all special – worthy human beings with worthy human feelings that we share, that help us find connection with our fellow travelers. I was able to successfully work with celebrities because I was aware that when a performer is lauded and celebrated for his or her talent, they still go home to families and insecurities. They still have to work on their marriages and raise their children to be good people. They still have to nurture their friendships and perhaps most important of all, they have to be able to withstand criticism and believe that they are worthy of the life
they want to live.

Motivational speaker, Brene Brown says: “You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.”