Writing in the Gray

I recently sat down with a friend, over a few beers, and we discussed politics, post-postmodernism, Oscar nominations, the instant gratification generation, and Nicola Tesla’s tragic end. Despite the intellectual pole vaulting between these concepts, I found myself being entertainingly opinionated about this odd assembly of topics.

“I’m sure your blog is full of this kind of stuff.” He said as we stepped outside to smoke.
“I guess so.”

When I got home, I started going through my blog posts. Reading back through the archives, I became somewhat saddened by what I read. I wasn’t the vibrant debater I am in real life, in person, over a beer. Instead, when blogging, I’m playing it safe. I don’t take a side and argue it, most likely in fear of alienating readers. I won’t push the bounds of my writing all the way out to the black or white, I just stay safely inside the gray area. Not pushing the envelope. Not rocking the boat. Not growing as an author.

At some point, my blog shifted away from a venue for me to discuss, debate, post, and argue, to my digital journal and scrapbook. “Here’s why the environment is important” became “look at these pictures of this hike we took the other day.” Sure, maybe there’s a venue for that kind of blog, and an audience interested in that kind of fluff reading, but that’s not the kind of blog I want to be writing. That’s not the kind of blog Mystery Tin should be. How did this happen?

I think part of me was afraid of the “permanency” of the blog platform and by putting down an opinion on paper, I was giving people a reason to build negative opinions of me. I was too concerned with being a people pleaser (classic “good boy syndrome” symptom) that my writing, and thus my art, had lots its edge. You can’t please all of the people all of the time, or whatever cliche phrase you want to put in here, is completely applicable. I also think that I overestimated the number of people that actually read my blog, so I was afraid if I said one questionable statement, it would be read by my girlfriend’s parents, my boss’s bosses, and someone at the Secret Service. Chances are only the last is likely.

It’s okay to have opinions. It’s okay to be your own person. Choose a side, but be open to discussion. And most importantly, it’s more than okay to change your mind. It’s hard enough to be a human being, but you’re learning as you go along. Acknowledging your development in perspective can be incredibly liberating, and perhaps sharing that experience can start others down the same path of enlightenment. Embrace the growth mindset. Don’t be afraid to take risks.

Being comfortable being yourself is ultimately the only thing that matters, and if people value you, they’ll value your unfiltered, honest opinion. Nobody wants a “yes man” around, they want a collective of confidantes. If you can build your reputation as an honest and trustworthy individual, the world will embrace your art, whatever it may be.

So I’m done writing in the gray, and I won’t be apologizing for it anytime soon.


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