It takes a lot of bravery to believe in your own vision of self. To believe in your own acts of creation. To follow those dreams through into completion with few external sources of validation and affirmation.

I was talking to a fellow author friend tonight about the writing and publication process and how difficult it can be to find the places you fit. It is hard to be your real unvarnished self in any world, even in the world of writing where honesty and truth, personal experience and self-revelation are often our genesis of inspiration.

Several years ago when I published my first article online, I had a heady sense of expectation that its publication would somehow be my initiation into the coveted club of “writers,” which I very much wanted to be a part of. I felt like I had arrived somehow, I am one of the group now!, I wanted to enthusiastically exclaim.

But expectations are often the precipitant of disappointment and disillusion, and I quickly began to figure out that whatever clubs existed did not seem to be ones that I found acceptance in or fit into. That twisting and shifting and changing my shape to try and write the kinds of things that would gain me more followers and likes just wasn’t my style.

It was more than the fact that I didn’t write well on demand: I just couldn’t seem to be, or write, anything more or less than me.

Popularity and acceptance and validation is a tempting thing. I’ve resisted, at times, the urge to turn this blog into something a little more likable and mainstream. Daily words of kindness. Solely nature poetry. Structured words of wisdom. A weekly reflection.

Pick a single theme and write around that: lessons on self-love or psychological insights or authenticity geared musings. Less me. More informational. More consistent and formulaic and thematic- and I feel caged in already just thinking about it. I have such a need to fly free that the moment I stay too long in one spot I am ready to move on and explore the next.

It’s not that there is anything wrong with any of the above ideas or that they are not valuable, appreciated, and needed. It’s just that when it comes to the requirements of my own soul, my best work comes from the inside out and is found in writing about my own process in the hopes that it sparks something in somebody else, helps them consider their own process, then allows them to take that spark and fan it into something bigger in their own life.

I don’t want anyone to do as I do; I simply want to empower people to find what they need inside of their own self to become who they need to be.

It is a continual act of courage. Finding authenticity. Following your own path. Being the you you are and not the you others expect you to be. Being someone real and not just an image or construct. Choosing the road less traveled in an effort to bushwhack and cut through and forge your own trail.

I was reminded of that all over again tonight as I talked to my friend and we both had that, “you also, me too!” experience as we talked about staying true to ourselves as writers, finding the guts to grow into our own dreams, and stepping outside of the mold to create new ways of doing things.

It may not be the easiest road- being a persistent pursuant of your own vision of self- but beyond the seam where sky meets cage, it is the only way to open the door to your truth, embody who you truly are, and give yourself permission to fly free.