I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I am afraid of.
Why do we do the things we do?
Sometimes a response is an instinct or a reflex action — like lifting your hand super fast and swearing when you have inadvertently placed it on the iron.
Most of the time, though, if we look deep enough there’s a reason of some sort for our behaviours or our actions, good or bad.
Joss Whedon’s quote popped up on my Facebook news feed and it got me thinking — not only about why I write, but why I do some of the other things I do.
Why do I Dragon Boat?
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, dragon boating hurts. In the last 9 months I have sustained an ankle injury (from the way I sit in the boat), a shoulder injury (from the unnatural positioning of my arms as I push the paddle into the water and force it through), a nasty, nasty bout of hives (probably from a reaction between my sunscreen and the yucky lake water we paddle in) and, on a weekly basis, my muscles barely manage to recover from a previous training session, before it’s time for the next one.
But, belonging to a team is an amazing feeling. Particularly when that team is so supportive. (Go Diamond Phoenix!) I have never before experienced this level of belonging — and it’s great. So, although it hurts, all that pain is washed away by belonging.
Why do I refuse to wear ‘fancy dress’?
This goes a lot deeper than just ‘fancy dress’, but I will start here as it is easier to visualise.
Lots of people love an opportunity to dress up in costume. Just think … themed costume parties, book week parades and the like. I believe it gives people an opportunity to step outside of themselves and be a bit silly for a short period of time.
I hate it. ‘Dressing up’ makes me feel uncomfortable to the degree I want the ground to open up and swallow me.
I did the dress-up thing for years, to please other people, including the children I taught. I would stress about it for weeks beforehand and literally feel sick on the day. Then, one day, I thought, ‘Enough! This needs to be about me.’
Strangely enough, kids get this, it is the adults who don’t. Kids, once I’ve explained to them why I don’t dress up, just say, ‘Oh, fair enough.’ Adults, on the other hand, say to me, ‘Oh, come on. It’s fun! You should do it! Everybody will be disappointed if you don’t.’ Well, I’m sorry, but if someone else’s fun is dictated by what I do, then they need to get a life.
In the same way, ten or so years ago I decided I was going to stop living my life the way other people dictated. I am well and truly sick of doing things that make me feel uncomfortable or that I don’t agree with (and that includes employing current teaching or behaviour management strategies), just to go along with societal or group expectations. I would never refuse to do something if it truly impacts in a negative way on someone else’s wellbeing … but if you tell me you won’t have fun because I am not participating in something I don’t find fun … you can simply get knotted.
Why do I write?
Let’s get this clear … I don’t write to make money (although … wouldn’t that be nice!) I entertained this thought briefly until my mentor knocked it out of me with her down-to-earth approach.
I think, if I nail it down, there are three main reasons I write:
- Writing allows me the opportunity to vent. It affords me the chance to get my emotions, opinions and feelings out there … and then, if I want to, I can look back at them later and evaluate them.
- Writing creatively (which I need to get back into) encourages me to explore my experiences; particularly the not-so-good ones, the things that scare me or the experiences that have significantly impacted on my life. Doing this allows me to put them into perspective, and (this will sound weird, but it works) to overcome them by blowing them out of proportion.
- I write to escape the current world. I know I am in the zone when my mind empties of everything except the words on the screen in front of me. It gives me a life break, allowing me to recharge my batteries.
I have resolved to ask myself more often why I have reacted a certain way, or why I do certain things. It is an interesting and revealing process to go through.
Sometimes we may want to deny the reasons for why we do certain things; they may be painful or embarrassing, or they may reveal something about our character that is somewhat unsavoury or undesirable. I get that a lot.
On the other hand, knowing why we do things can be motivating. It can push us not to give up when the going gets tough.
Either way, I feel this is important information to know about ourselves — for good or bad.