I hope that at least one person saw the title of this post and hoped it would be an awkward confession.
If that’s you, I apologize. This is not that.
Today I was thinking about how my college journalism professors always stressed the importance of not letting writing become too personal or emotional. It was emphasized to the point of completely stressing me out, and it made me write like a black and white cartoon robot. There was a presumed fear among my classmates of the disasters we knew would wreak havoc on our careers if we lapsed in judgement on this rule. And while this approach does make for less-biased, stronger newswriting, it also whittles away the soul of a story. Writers write because we treasure the experience of expressing our thoughts and feelings, so removing that aspect can feel crippling. This is why I’m not a reporter.
Culturally, lots of situations urge us to shift our focus away from the human aspect of things, to keep them simple and business-like. As a result, things like a performance review, medical diagnosis or customer service interaction can become mechanical–utterly predictable–like both sides were given a script. Participating in these prescribed, robotic conversations makes me feel like I’m campaigning for mayor of a small southern town. (I’m wearing seersucker and a straw hat in this disastrous fantasy.)
Needless to say, I’m not good at being formal, and I hate when things feel rehearsed (adios, political aspirations!). I love telling stories and voicing my feelings and thoughts ad nauseam. It’s a privilege to share things in a way that makes you vulnerable enough to connect with others. Maybe this is revolutionary, or maybe I’m a hopeless oversharer.
The personal part of a moment or experience is usually what makes it worth remembering. We lose that if we break everything down to facts and figures. I’m in favor of making things more personal than what feels comfortable; going out on a limb and saying what instinctively feels right rather than what the textbook or status quo dictates. When we’re honest and humble, it’s amazing how quickly everything else falls into place.