I am taking part in a writing challenge from WordPress’ Daily Post. The challenge is to use the Post via Email tool and to write the post as if you are writing an actual email. So I decided I would write to you, my former self–a young woman who always hid behind the written word.
As your future self, I want to warn you of your habits of expressing yourself only through writing. You have this bad habit of holding in your real feelings until you explode through a written, verbal regurgitation that tends to make matters worse. I understand your fears. You are afraid of rejection and getting hurt. But the problem with email is that you don’t know if the other person even read your heartfelt diatribe, if they interpreted it with its true meanings and feelings (teasing and flirting doesn’t always come across in email), and you will never know how they feel if they decide not to respond. With verbal communication, yes, it is scary but at least you get responses right away, ending the “what is he thinking” loop that plays in your head. And no matter how scared you are to express yourself live (or even in-person), always remind yourself that what is the worse that can happen–you will lose something you never even had?
You started this habit of expressing yourself, especially in matters of the heart, at a young age. You used to write notes to the guys you cared for in Middle School and High School but then with the addition of email in college, your bad habit soared. In college, with Big, you used email to tell him how you felt. Then the one time you stored up enough courage to tell him in person what you wanted, he gave you what you thought was a rejection–thus causing you to further hone your written communication skills.
You are a writer. You have a college degree in the subject to prove it. It should be a skill, not a crutch. One in-person rejection (your interpretation, not his) and another one on the phone and you developed what Big would probably call “long ass email” syndrome.
This is going to be a very hard habit for you to break. Through therapy, meditation, and a lot of soul-searching, you are going to do your best to get over your fears. But your daily interactions with teenagers who conduct the majority of their communications through technology–texting, tweeting, Instagram and the like–is going to make this one of the most difficult challenges of your life. But remember, you are from a different generation. A generation where your parents made you get your own phone line so you could talk to your friends for hours. Go back to your roots and work on your Verbal communication skills (and do your very best to convince your teenagers to do the same). Stop using your pen (or keyboard) as a sword, a weapon to fight off your fear demons, and do your part to help stop a future of tech zombies who would rather text the person sitting on the other side of the table instead of having an actual conversation with them. Remember, the benefits of an actual verbal conversation is instant feedback and responses. I mean isn’t that why you go to “talk” therapy? This will improve our future–and end all the misunderstandings that have occurred via email.
Luv, Kel (your present and future self)