On Claiming Creativity

Or: How I learned to stop being afraid and launch this new website
This is me, Emily P.G. Erickson.

This is the story of a website, but, to tell it, I have to get vulnerable with you. I have to tell you what I’m most afraid of. 

Here goes: What I’m most afraid of, my core fear, is being wrong.

It’s a fear that has shaped a lot of my life behind the scenes. When I try to understand how it all started, I see a white worksheet with red pen marks. I don’t remember what worksheet it was. Maybe spelling. Maybe math. But I do remember what those red pen marks said: 10/10. Perfect! 

Oh, that felt good. It felt like a kitten in your lap and a double scoop of ice cream in your cone. It felt perfect

It felt so good that my child-mind created a rule that went like this: If not being wrong is this good, then being wrong must be really bad.

On the one hand, this was a pretty good rule. To avoid being wrong, I’ve learned to work hard. I can work and work and work to avoid being wrong in lots of contexts. I think this has a lot to do with why I’ve been an A-student from kindergarten through graduate school.  

On the other hand, more recently, the rule painted me into a bit of a corner. Because, in addition to my fear of being wrong, I like to write. The problem with writing is it is never perfect. You can work and work and work, and there’s still more you could do.

So I developed my own workarounds. 

For years, I wrote, but I didn’t show anyone. As a result, I have a 70-quart plastic storage tub of notebooks in my attic. When notebooks in a bin weren’t enough, I decided to put my writing online. But I didn’t tell a soul. I’ve had not one, but two, secret blogs. When readerless blogs became too demoralizing, I made new ones and began to promote my writing, but I took precautions that would allow for deniability. I hedged with names I could sever myself from if it all got too scary: “One Happy Blueberry.” “Words by Emily.” Maybe you saw those blogs. Maybe you asked yourself, What is she doing? That is what I asked myself, What am I doing? 

The answer embarrassed me: hiding.

I was hiding from being wrong. 

Here’s the truth: Creativity is messy. It’s not perfect. If you share what you create, somebody somewhere is going to say it stinks. They’re going to say you’re wrong.

Here’s another truth: It’s ok to be wrong.Truly. It’s just part of being a person. If you don’t let yourself be wrong every once in a while, I’ve come to think, you’re not letting yourself fully live.

This is why I say that it is an act of self-healing to introduce you to my website, which uses my real name, emilypgerickson.com. You’ll find my writing here. You might think some of it is wrong. Even so, having the opportunity to share it with you openly is just as good, I‘ve decided, as kittens and ice cream. 

Welcome. I hope you’ll subscribe and stick around.

Published by Emily P.G. Erickson

Emily P.G. Erickson is a freelance writer specializing in mental health and parenting. She has written for popular digital publications, including Everyday Health, Health, The New York Times, Parents, Romper, Verywell Mind, WIRED, and more. Emily is a professional member of the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), and the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ). Previously, Emily researched PTSD for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and earned a master's in psychology. You can find the latest from Emily at www.emilypgerickson.com.

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