Yesterday, I was struck with a disturbing realization as I was shooting footage for what will probably be the first episode of the Deeper Dive.
I was pontificating out loud how frustrated I was in feeling unable to write despite knowing that I have a plethora of topics I can discuss besides my fiction content. You may have noticed in my very first post on this blog, I said that I would not focus on politics. There is a very good reason why.
My politics neither align with the left nor the right. I would even say that they don’t align with libertarian thought either. Without going into the specifics of my political thoughts, I know that if I were to post a lot of what I’m thinking, I would anger my friends on both sides of the political spectrum. Since the contested election in 2000, the divisiveness in our national politics and culture has grown to a fever pitch where Americans are starting to see themselves as having irreconcilable differences. I have noticed this among my friends, coworkers, etc. I have no desire to alienate my friends, so I end up staying silent online and in real life about subjects that do have meaning for me. Expounding on my reluctance to write is what lead to the following realization:
I excessively self-censor out of fear of rejection.
As I reflect back on this realization, I’m struck with a second realization:
I have always censored myself out of fear from the very beginning.
Let’s go back. As an atheist kid, I grew up in a non-religious household in a small rural area where the idea of religious diversity was how Lutherans, Baptists, and Catholics agreed that the Pentecostals were a bit weird. My graduating class size consisted of 82 people total. Being non-Christian simply was not an acceptable option. From a very young age, I learned in school to keep my opinions to myself and not bother anybody.
And it wasn’t just religion. I remember being laughed at during lunch in 5th grade for wearing a Beatles t-shirt by a couple of kids who I know for a fact like The Beatles on Facebook. So what did I do? I stayed silent about liking their music unless I found someone else who also liked their music. In high-school, I fared a bit better socially, but I think that’s mostly because I had shown some musical talent. I was just happy when I graduated, as I thought that would mark the beginning of my success. (Spoiler alert: It didn’t.)
Now with an adult’s perspective, a lot of what happened to me was simply a case of kids being kids and mimicking the same attitudes and perspectives as their parents. Plus, the environment fostered by the public school system, in general, does very little to encourage independent thinking. Looking back, I can clearly see how strange I must have appeared to my peers and I am frankly amazed that I still have people from my alma mater on my facebook friends list at all.
I think about my life at home, too. As great as my parents were to me growing up, I felt like there were certain aspects of my inner-life and thinking that I wish I could have shared, but didn’t. I didn’t talk about Ayn Rand much, if at all. The only people I could talk to about Objectivism and what it personally meant to me were strangers online that I still have yet to meet in person.
So now I find myself married to a wonderful woman who is Catholic. In order for this marriage to work, I censor myself. Now, as it was then, I fear upsetting and hurting other people. I don’t always speak my truth when I need to, and I realize that I ultimately have hurt myself and my ability to communicate honestly.
If I am ever to succeed in life, love, and my chosen vocation, I have to break through this barrier.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think the little boy inside of me really ever found the confidence or the words needed to speak his truth.
This is why I’m writing this blog so I can speak like a child.
Adam Buker is a freelance author living in Springfield, MO. When he’s not writing he’s usually cooking, playing with his kids, making music, taking photos, or otherwise pondering the mysteries of life.