There’s a saying, “write what scares you.” In March I did the Moth Story Slam. Writing the story wasn’t especially scary. It brought up some unpleasant memories, but it wasn’t scary. You want to know what’s scary? Sharing a very personal story publicly with people I actually know.

But, my experiences inform my writing, to a very large degree, and it gets old answering “where do you get your ideas?” with, “well, um, you know … uh, they just come to me.”

I have always thought my reticence has come from not wanting to make people feel uncomfortable – and it’s true that some people don’t really know what to say if you are too frank about a checkered history. And that’s OK!

But I also think it stems from my unwillingness to compromise my (self) image of hyper-competence, which has kind of been my stock in trade for much of my adult life.

I have started to realize, finally, that the two can go together. I can be competent and happy while also acknowledging the (many) times in my life where I have been less-than-competent, and have been, frankly, miserable.

And, maybe, just maybe, it’s valuable for other people to know this. Maybe it’s meaningful to show the world that competence doesn’t equal infallibility and that fallibility, followed by self-examination can lead to greater strength; that pain can sometimes force insights that lead to a greater sense of peace or calm or happiness.

The period that I talk about in this Moth performance was, possibly, the worst of my adult life. Even more so because it contrasted so sharply with what I thought adulthood was going to be like. I really did think I was going to leave my crazy abusive parents and instantly find happiness in college.

No one explained baggage to me, so I didn’t realize that I was going to bring a giant suitcase containing all the poor communication skills, neediness, tragic inability to recognize functional healthy people, even more tragic ability to elide and gloss over others’ insanity, resentment, and utter lack of boundaries with me from home.

My first year away from home gave  me some very hard lessons. The good news is, I was a quick learner and while I made a lot of mistakes, I rarely made the same mistake twice. Eventually I figured out how normal people live, although it took me nearly as long to get straightened out as it took me to get bent in the first place. But hey, a difficult life is better than no life.

Here’s the link to the story. Thank you for watching, and, for the haters out there, enjoy the schadenfreude.

 

 

 

 

Posted by lesherjennifer

4 Comments

  1. This is a powerful post. Several thoughts….

    Far from denting your image of hyper-competence, when any (reasonable) person learns more of your history it actually *enhances* the achievement and personal strength and determination that you have applied to *become* hyper competent in the face of such a handicap at the starting gate. Early life mistakes and what you learned from them are what make you in particular *so amazing*. In contrast to many people who made mistakes and then didn’t learn and kept on making them or making different ones but still in pursuit of not having to face the pain or do the work to grow and progress beyond them. DO NOT EVER BE ASHAMED of your checkered history!

    There is tremendous value in sharing this publicly also because it provides HOPE and INSPIRATION to people who may also have gone through some shitty times or made mistakes, to see that it is not impossible that they can aspire to/achieve a life like yours. Being HUMAN is what makes you GREAT.

    I was curious about your mention of “haters.” It seemed a little out of place at the end of this – are you thinking people will hate on you for your personal revelation? That people who already hate you will pounce on this for some reason? Wondering who/what you were thinking of in that category.

    In fact, playing Devils’ advocate for a moment, I can imagine that, if I didn’t know any better, it might even seem like hyper-competent people just emerged fully formed as they are, and magically spend their lives always knowing what to do and how it should be done. Without knowing they had to struggle to get there too, the hyper-competence is more likely to cause insecure people to feel bad about themselves by comparison. I would think that if anything being open about your past would dissipate “hate” and transform it into respect.

    Vulnerability IS strength. At least to anyone whose opinion is worth spit. 😉

    ~Anne

    On Wed, May 18, 2016 at 3:52 PM, Jennifer Lesher – Author wrote:

    > lesherjennifer posted: “There’s a saying, “write what scares you.” In > March I did the Moth Story Slam. Writing the story wasn’t especially scary. > It brought up some unpleasant memories, but it wasn’t scary. You want to > know what’s scary? Sharing a very personal story publicly wi” >

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    1. Thank you, on all counts 🙂

      On Wed, May 18, 2016 at 4:39 PM, Jennifer Lesher – Author wrote:

      > Respond to this comment by replying above this line > New comment on Jennifer Lesher – Author > > *Anne Corning commented on It’s Not the Writing that Scares Me > * > > There’s a saying, “write what scares you.” In March I did the Moth Story > Slam. Writing the story wasn’t especially scary. It … > > This is a powerful post. Several thoughts…. > > Far from denting your image of hyper-competence, when any (reasonable) > person learns more of your history it actually *enhances* the achievement > and personal strength and determination that you have applied to *become* > hyper competent in the face of such a handicap at the starting gate. Early > life mistakes and what you learned from them are what make you in > particular *so amazing*. In contrast to many people who made mistakes and > then didn’t learn and kept on making them or making different ones but > still in pursuit of not having to face the pain or do the work to grow and > progress beyond them. DO NOT EVER BE ASHAMED of your checkered history! > > There is tremendous value in sharing this publicly also because it > provides HOPE and INSPIRATION to people who may also have gone through some > shitty times or made mistakes, to see that it is not impossible that they > can aspire to/achieve a life like yours. Being HUMAN is what makes you > GREAT. > > I was curious about your mention of “haters.” It seemed a little out of > place at the end of this – are you thinking people will hate on you for > your personal revelation? That people who already hate you will pounce on > this for some reason? Wondering who/what you were thinking of in that > category. > > In fact, playing Devils’ advocate for a moment, I can imagine that, if I > didn’t know any better, it might even seem like hyper-competent people just > emerged fully formed as they are, and magically spend their lives always > knowing what to do and how it should be done. Without knowing they had to > struggle to get there too, the hyper-competence is more likely to cause > insecure people to feel bad about themselves by comparison. I would think > that if anything being open about your past would dissipate “hate” and > transform it into respect. > > Vulnerability IS strength. At least to anyone whose opinion is worth spit. > 😉 > > ~Anne > >

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  2. Really enjoyed your telling of the Moth story. Very insightful and engaging. Thanks!

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    1. Thank you! I hope to do more of the Slams.

      On Thu, May 19, 2016 at 9:09 AM, Jennifer Lesher – Author wrote:

      >

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