With the jump into 2016, I paused a bit to create a few resolutions. Because my 2015 found me making steps in positive directions, I opted to forego taking wild stabs in new directions, instead creating a list of ‘Resolutions, More or Less’:
• Hustling for approval
• Space for fear/self-doubt
As I glance at the three ‘more’ objectives, I see three activities that have different, but equally significant, restorative qualities to my spirit. Running brings me into a sort of communion with my body, both elevating my fitness and increasing my awareness and love for what this vessel enables my soul to do. Reading encourages my mind and heart to explore themselves, to iron out the wrinkles and dig into the feelings, as well as not to feel alone in the challenges of my own story.
And there’s writing. Well, the love affair with writing goes back quite a way.
I remember writing stories as early as I could spell. At my Grandma’s house, I sprawled absurd stories onto stacks of printer paper stapled into makeshift ‘books.’ In the second grade, when my teacher noticed I was prone to finishing tests early and starting up conversations with my peers, I was tasked to write creatively. Something in the act of creating, of digging and documenting, was almost immediately addictive.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that writing is more than just a creative outlet, however. It is the means through which I sort through the complexities of living. At every difficult moment in my life, every break in the path, I find that words seem almost to bleed from my fingertips. My best writing has come from the rawest pain, the deepest vulnerability. And, once I’ve finished the act of writing, I often feel sorted out and settled, the knots within untangled once more.
In my undergrad years, I created a blog called ‘Midwest Kid,’ and I began with a goal of writing one post per day. I was pretty prolific, pretty random, and pretty happy to have an outlet for my musings and reflections. As I moved into grad school, however, Midwest Kid started seeing fewer and fewer entries; the blog became a neglected chore.
Life, I’ve found, has a way of making it a challenge to keep activities like these a priority: Reading requires not only time, but quiet of the mind. Running requires time and preparation and consistency and the right conditions and energy. Writing requires a bit of all of that. With work and relationships and a thousand easier distractions, the competition for priority is a pretty intense muddle.
So it was that, in my second year of graduate school, I created this blog. I needed a new space for writing, something with more maturity and less expectation than my previous blog. I needed a space to sort out the challenges of that time: preparing to come out to my parents, navigating the process of finding my first full-time job, really working to know and understand myself.
I settled on the title of ‘With Bravado’ after some pretty intense deliberation. I wanted a title that captured something of my worldview, and I settled on the idea of doing things with passion. When the word ‘bravado’ brushed my mind, I knew I’d found the title. Loving one another, running marathons, sharing our stories – all activities best done with a bit of bravado.
In the past year, I opened the blog to a few projects that allowed other people to share their stories. Though not the primary function of this space, it’s been inspiring and invigorating for me to know these narratives. There’s been some pretty courageous sharing here; this is something I’ll continue whenever the time seems right.
Boiled down: The blog exists because I exist, and within me exists the insuppressible urge to find meaning and express it via this strange and beautiful pastime. It exists because, for me, writing is worth the time and energy and setting aside of time.