If I am going to be as honest as I always promise to be in this space — I’m not one to break a promise, especially not to strangers — I’m going to have to admit some things here that I am really going to struggle to put into words.
But that’s what we are all about here, right? Sometimes in order to pass along the points we want or need to convey, we have to figure out how to say what we feel must be said in the best, most straightforward way possible.
2019 is quickly coming to a close, and as usual, we have come upon a time of year I often use as a period of reflection. In that reflection almost always comes a lot of hard questions, a lot of truth, and a lot of tough decisions that will impact the distant, sometimes the very near, future of my life and my work.
I have spent a lot of time on my work this year. Maybe more than I should have. I don’t regret this by any means. But the more I look back on how I handled it all, the more I realize how negatively I let it affect me. And not just me internally. Me in terms of how I interacted with and reacted to the people and situations around me.
I have made a lot of mistakes, even when choosing what to post on this blog and the messages that I wanted my words to send. I have not been the best I could have been. And there are many ways this really needs to change.
The writing community needs optimistic voices. Not just for your own personal benefit but for the benefit of everyone involved as well. I spend a lot of time on the internet (I say it’s because I have to, but do I really? More on that later), and I see a lot of negativity surrounding just about everything there is to have an opinion on.
If Star Wars has taught us anything, it’s that the hateful cries are the loudest and most persistent. But this applies to anything. I just can’t stop thinking about the Skywalkers. ANYWAY.
You do not have to respond positively to everything all the time. No one should ever expect that from you, at least not realistically. But there is a difference between being human and being a constant source of darkness for those around you. Some people are like sponges. They absorb the attitudes of those around them. They can’t help it. These people especially — but everyone, really — need hope to hold onto. They need to hear that everything is going to be OK.
Is it up to you alone to give them that hope? Of course not. But there are those, like me, who spend a lot of time sending out messages to a lot of people in need of hope. And when those people let their darkness cloud their mission, they are doing everyone a disservice, not just themselves.
I have had a very difficult year. I have been in pain, I have been angry and bitter, and I have let it affect everyone and everything that I have touched. In the past, I have walked away from relationships with people who behaved like I have been behaving lately. I am ashamed that I have let myself become this.
These are just excuses though. I have had no right to act the way that I have. I know this probably hasn’t impacted most of you reading this now, or if it has, you never noticed. But part of the process of healing is admitting that something happened that shouldn’t have, but that you are going to move on from it. You are going to be better. You are going to find hope.
Finding your light isn’t easy. I know because I have tried. Do you know what IS easy, though? Absorbing and spreading negativity. Complaints are contagious. When one person shows even a glimpse of the darkness inside them, it’s almost like they are giving those around them permission to release their own.
The trouble, of course, is that everyone does have darkness inside them. You are either born with it or some weight of the world brings it upon you. You do not have a choice in this matter. You do, however, have a choice in what you do with the darkest parts of you.
I have been through a lot just this year alone. It has not been easy to get up every day and face the things that have been bringing more darkness into my life. But I have gotten through it. And the only way I have gotten through it is through the stories that I have created in response to the emotions I have experienced.
Writing is a source of light for me. It helps me see things more clearly, it helps remind me that my fears and doubts and frustrations are valid and real. Everyone needs a source of light that brings them hope. Everyone needs hope if they are going to be a source of light themselves.
As a writer, you have to find the things that will light your way, whether they are related to writing specifically or some other form of creative expression. You cannot thrive as a creator or as a human being if you don’t. Those lost in darkness who have a way out have much higher of a chance of actually getting out.
But finding the light that makes you hopeful isn’t enough. There is no better way to heal from the pain of your past than to light up the lives of those along your path to a brighter future.
Be a light in all that you offer. That is my mantra for the coming year. Even on my worst days, even when I feel I have nothing of value left to show, I will glow. Darkness seeks only to spread darkness. Light seeks to spread light. If I went so far as to become the very darkness I once sought to destroy, who’s to say I can’t come back with a vengeance and extinguish my own darkness with light? If for no reason other than to offer light to those who need it more than I?
My purpose in this world is to make beautiful things others can use to do the same. I have known that for a long time, even in the low moments I stopped believing it. At some point in recent time, I didn’t just stop believing it: I stopped living it. My light went out. I lost myself, and I lost sight of what mattered to me most.
That all changes now. I am a light again. Not just for myself, but for the world.
If you make an effort to give off light in the presence of others, maybe when your own light starts to fade, those you brightened before will come along and do the same for you when you need it most. That’s the hope anyway. That there is still enough good in this world for things like this.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.