A few weeks ago, a close friend sent me a text message. “You should write a blog about your first year of marriage.” I responded something along the lines of, “Great idea!” but in my head thought, “No way.” What on earth would I say? It’s not that I don’t have thoughts on early marriage (and marriage in general), but who am I to speak on it? I’ve been married for one year, and just like every other newlywed, I’m learning as I go. If people want to learn about marriage, they should learn from a couple that has 20+ years under their belt. Clearly they know what they’re doing.
I decided I’d try to write something anyway – maybe about what I’m most grateful for from our first 12 months – but realized halfway through the first page that most of my sentences were disclaimers.
“I’m certainly not an expert, but….”
“I definitely don’t know all that much about being married.”
“I’m sure my thoughts will change when I’ve been married longer!”
I deleted the whole thing. But then I started wondering why I was so self-conscious about speaking on my personal experience.
On my first Washington Post article, I received a snarky comment that said, “It’s important to keep something in perspective: at 24, you don’t know everything and will be a different person at 34, and also 44.” Then it went on to say how cocky I sounded. Which, to this day, confuses me – it was a personal essay written by 24-year-old me. Yes, I certainly hope I’ll be a different person every decade… no one wants to be stagnant. I hope everyone evolves and grows throughout the years. Was I supposed to not write until I hit age 34? Or even better, just hold off completely until I hit 44?
That said, that criticism has always lingered in the back of my mind. Can I write about being sober when I only have four years? Can I write about marriage when I’m still basically a newlywed? Can I write about veganism when I ate meat until two years ago? Can I write about exercise when I’m not actually athletic? When am I allowed to start writing about the things I care about? When am I “enough” to speak?
Then I realized – if everyone waited until they were certified experts, or had enough accrued wisdom on a topic, we’d never hear from fellow beginners. Really, we’d never hear from anyone under the age of 50. I’m absolutely allowed to share my story today, and so can you. And we should! What’s wrong with writing something that might not ring true in 10 years? In 20 years? That just gives us a chance to start from scratch – and reflect on how much we’ve grown.
When I first got sober, I didn’t want to hear from someone who had 30 years of sobriety and couldn’t remember their first days, weeks, and months. I wanted to hear from the woman with one year, who could still feel the shame, guilt, and loneliness of active addiction burning in her stomach. I didn’t want to read articles from happily married women with children when I was stressing over a guy who couldn’t commit – I wanted to hear from women who had finally found their first healthy relationship, and remembered what it was like getting to that point.
I’m making a promise to myself to stop holding myself back from writing, just because I don’t feel like I’m enough yet. There will always be someone in the world with more experience, more wisdom, and a more worldly perspective, but that doesn’t mean that I should shut up and sit down.
You don’t have to know everything to share something, and you don’t need to be an authority on a subject to talk about it. Please, don’t wait until you’re accomplished X, Y, and Z to share your perspective, because people want to hear from others who are still figuring it out. Don’t wait to write, create, share, or pursue something, simply because you’re holding off until you’re exactly where you want to be. One day, you will “know it all,” (or at least you’ll be a lot closer), and you will have completely forgotten about what you felt like today, as a newbie. Start sharing, creating, and connecting, and start now.