After a while, you learn to ignore the names people call you and just trust who you are. ~Shrek
We can learn a lot from an ogre. In folklore, an ogre was a man-eating giant. We also use that term to describe a cruel or mean person. Until the movie Shrek came along. Shrek was loveable and endearing. Kids today don’t think an ogre is scary. As Shrek said, “Sometimes things, and people, are more than they appear.”
Trusting who we are, when others do not understand us, can be tough. Often in normal everyday life we shy away from being our big bold selves. Certainly when it comes to our creative expression.
That is why I love doing my Joy of Writing classes. These are small group workshops with people who just want to play with words and dabble with writing. They don’t aspire to write a book (although some do). They just have an inkling to express.
My classes are men and women, middle-aged and older. The number one goal I have for these workshops is to create a safe space where everyone feels comfortable to share — because the fear of putting ourselves out there doesn’t go away just because we reach a certain age.
After the first writing prompt, I ask for volunteers to read what they have written. Every single time each person who offers up their prose or verse blows us away with their insight or phrasing or emotion or humor.
Once one person reads, someone else will raise their hand and share. And we’re off. Usually there is someone who does not volunteer in the first round. I don’t force anyone. We don’t critique and we don’t judge. We simply read. And then we do the next prompt, write for a few minutes, and go around again with volunteers to read. By the end of the second round everyone is now willing to read. It warms my heart through and through.
The atmosphere is encouraging and uplifting and wonder-full. We learn so much from each other and mostly we learn about ourselves.
Every person has a unique outlook, experience, memories, and opinions. The writing is always surprising and always good. Each person surprises themselves I think too with what bubbles out of them and the class’s positive reaction.
I thank every person for reading and sometimes we allow someone to expound a bit, but no one “hogs” the time and everyone is respectful and appreciative of each other. These classes are pure joy for all involved.
It is my job to curb the self-judgment. Sometimes people hem and haw before they read their piece with some kind of self-criticism or apology: “I was just rambling.” “I am too analytical.” “This isn’t any good…”
“No commentary is needed. Just read what you wrote.” And after a round or two, the confidence builds and no one has to preface their writing with any kind of remarks. The trust in themselves blossoms.
That is what I love. They all leave the workshop with new or renewed belief in their own creative ability and now have an outlet to express. The feedback I get fills my cup. The writing is glorious, and yet it’s not just about the writing. It’s about learning to ignore all the little voices in our heads who tell us we’re no good. It’s about just trusting who you are. That applies to all our endeavors and aspirations.
After a while you have to learn to ignore the fears and realize that people – and you – are more than they appear. You have layers and layers of amazing threads that are part of the whole of you. Loosen up and start to let some of your creative threads out for some play. No explanations, no apologies. Just trust who you are, and know, that you too are as endearing and loveable as any old ogre.