©2020 THE SMILE PROJECT

Using Your Gifts For Good

April 8, 2015

I went through a phase in middle school where I threw away everything that I wrote. I had notebooks full of lyrics and lines upon lines of poetry. I didn’t think anything of it. In my mind, it wasn’t good. So I didn’t share. I hid like a secret.

 

When I was in high school, I always thought about writing for the school paper, but something held me back. Fear. I was afraid of someone reading something I had written and responding negatively.

 

I loved writing. But I loved writing for me. And the thought of someone ever reading my bare personal thoughts was paralyzing.

 

I was a freshman in college when I got the idea in my head to write for my school newspaper. I played with the idea, but quickly wrote it off. Why would it matter what I had to say?

 

At the urging of a couple friends, I decided to apply to write the inspirational column. I got the job and I proofread my first article over a dozen times. I didn’t think it was good. But I submitted it anyway.

 

When the paper came out on Friday morning, I was beyond nervous. What if people read it and thought I was a terrible writer? I repeat, once again: fear.

 

Fast forward two years and I’ve now spent a year writing an inspirational column and another year writing staff and feature news articles. By the end of my sophomore year, I was cranking out motivational articles without a second thought. It just seemed right. It stopped being a matter of second guessing every word and became more of just speaking from the heart.

 

I’m not sure why I was afraid. You see, friends, teachers, family…everyone who had read my work had always encouraged me. But I didn’t want to do it. It was scary. It was unknown. There were a lot of “what ifs.”

 

Now, I frequently find myself sharing my writing with friends in a peer editing forum. I no longer freeze when I have to read my own short fiction out loud. I love writing for the paper and submitting work to my campus’s literary magazine. I’ll take all the feedback I can get because I know in the end it will only make me a stronger writer.

 

I’m a very different person than the one who wrote by a book clip light long after bedtime. I no longer clutch my notebooks with iron hands. I’m more open. I’m ready to share.

 

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately—how we use what we are given. You can fight it, ignore it, or resent it but eventually, it finds you.

 

I’ve written before about this idea—about how you can use your gifts to help someone else. I believe that I have strengths in writing, speaking, and connecting people. I believe it’s important for me to share those with others.

 

What good is it to be the best musician in the world if you never allow anyone to be moved by your music?

 

And the thing is…you don’t even have to be the best.

 

I’m writing this blog post in a noisy room with people running and slamming doors behind me. I know I’m not the best writer, and I know that this isn’t the best blog I’ve ever scribed. But if it can be used to encourage one person, then I will have used my gift for good.

 

I used to fight it, destroying what ‘wasn’t good enough’ in my eyes. I used to ignore it, convinced it mattered only to me. I used to resent it, wishing my mind wasn’t continually wrapped up in a story.

 

Now, I embrace it.

 

I have often found myself moved by watching my loved ones explore their talents. I have watched my teammate give it her all at the end of a cross country race, wrapped up in fatigue but being pushed by heart. I have seen my friend stand, beaming in front of a mural that she designed and created. I’ve watched my classmate give it his all on the stage, performing what he loves and bringing others joy in the process.

 

Running away from your gift does a disservice not only to yourself, but also to those who surround you. I don’t think anybody is ever truly aware of the light they bring.

 

So really think, for a second, about what it was like to watch your brother, sister, friend, neighbor… put themselves out there and do what they love—the thing that brings a spark to their eyes. Think of how proud you felt in that moment.

 

You were given a gift. And whether that is comedy or music, athleticism or science, it’s important to share that with others.

 

The world bows down to those who believe in their abilities.

 

Believe in yours.

 

Love always,

Liz

 

 

 

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