"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are."

"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are."

E. E. Cummings really nailed it with this line, because being a writer terrifies me.

I don't know if it's something about writing itself that creates such an uneasy feeling, or just the knowledge that I have something important to live up to. This passion is one that I will work hard at, grow from, and allow others to be witness to for the rest of my life.

Or so I assume. I may have written my first poetry book at age nine, but I only began feeling worthy of the title recently with my new heavy freelance gig. Now when people ask me What do you do? I muster the courage to tell them I'm a writer! and witness as my acceptance bubbles up a bit more each time.

When I think about what it means to be a writer, I think about how enigmatic, bold, honest, sensitive, and larger than life all of my wordsmith idols are.

Could this person be me? I ask myself.

PFFT!!! I answer.

There's also the undeniable melancholic haze that surrounds many creative types, especially those who crack open their tortured souls with the flow of written language. While creative therapy can release us from the self-destructive traps we plant in our minds, it also illuminates them, displaying our innermost turmoil and abducting our ability to deny our experiences and feelings.

Maybe this is why my gift brings my stomach into my throat. I've found a way to cultivate my feelings, and now I know I have to keep harvesting and witnessing them. It honestly seems easier to let them pound away at locked doors in my mind, or to destroy myself by constantly dwelling on grief. But, I've learned the tools to a better life, and I feel I have a responsibility to bring myself, and others, out of their own darkness.

We have to have the courage to live the life we desire, no exceptions, because waiting for it to come to us is just an excuse not to live up to our own glorious potential.

I sometimes panic from the knowledge that I can never escape my inner self, but the inability to deny my true feelings through open expression is also the ultimate freedom. I am free to be fluid, to change, to grow, to speak up, to heal, to heal others, to become someone important, to become someone different than I am now, and to be unique.

And these are probably some of the most terrifying things to become. I'm discovering who the real me is by stripping away insecurities and resentments, and I'm learning to release this inner truth little by little. Accepting that my outward self is changing to find the pureness beneath despite the world's cruelty is still frightening though.

But I am pushing through, and I am learning to let my soul and my goodness carry my actions, rather than allowing external forces to dictate the reactions that threaten to burst forth. I know better than a life of anger now, and while I welcome well-lived mistakes, I have no excuse for behavior that doesn't come from a place of love. Now that is something to live up to.

But beyond this knowledge that being a writer will force me to grow and to heal, to keep on living, is something that also threatens to eat away at my self-worth.

Being a writer, or being so much of anything really, persuades me into a labeled box, a category that others will use to define me, and that I will spitefully use to define myself. But what it is about this art that I resent? What is it about being caught up in something that makes me feel so powerless?

It's as if writing controls me, constantly whispering in my ear like a voice I can't hear, but I can feel taking me over. My fingers ache and my hands are possessed by a restless jitter. My thoughts swarm in a hasty tornado, searching for an escape from the heightening whirlwind, screaming at me to allow their release.

But if I free these anxious thoughts, I will see them. I will see their truth and I will see myself for who I am behind them.

Who I am scares me. My own passion creates uneasiness within me, guaranteeing I will face my own unpredictability, intense feelings, and extreme experiences. Not only that, but I am constantly reminded that my loved ones will have to travel this journey alongside me. I am admittedly dreadful of the day they walk away from me having endured more than their share of my chaos.

I'm always anxious about being put into categories by the world around me, but after seeing these words in front of me, I know what truly haunts me is my own fixation with my labels. Deep down I know I'm not worried that my friends and family will suddenly decide they don't want to deal with my shit anymore. I'm not worried that I'm a terrible writer and there is no way I will ever succeed. If anything, I'm worried I will succeed, and discover who I truly am when I give life my all. I would learn how much I am capable of.

And if I did, there would be no more hiding, no more pretending to be someone I'm not, someone quiet and mainstream and apathetic.

I will have to face the fact that I am loud, I am brave, I am unique, and I am a writer. I will have to be all that I set out to be, and more than I ever imagined I could become.

Finally, I am moving in a direction that will forbid me from cowering in a safer shadow. I am reaching for the life I've always dreamed of. I can accept that I will sometimes feel crippled with fear, but I am choosing to push forward anyway. It feels overwhelming to suddenly start achieving everything you've ever wanted, and to deal with the enormous changes and losses along the way, but I know that this is living.

My fears will continue to scorch my courage, but if I regard this fire not as a risk that can burn me, but as a force that will ignite me, I can truly have it all.