It’s 8 o’clock at night and I’m writing. Again.  I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, whether novels that no one ever saw or blogs that I wrote off and on. More off than on, sadly.

Last week I had the idea for this blog site. I was tired of waiting for my old one to get fixed and wanted to write. I mean, really wanted to write.

Ever since, I’ve been more energized to write than I ever have before. So full of ideas and stories, both for the blog and books and all sorts of things.

I’m wary. Because this is how I’ve been before. I get a whiff of energy and get all excited for a week or two, then life just happens and things sort of drift off.

But something feels different this time.

I want to write. And keep writing. I want to put in the work . I don’t think I’ve ever actually thought about that before. Putting in the work. But after joining this writing club, full of professionals, that the number one thing they’ve been talking about. The difference between an amateur and a professional. Putting in the work. Putting in the sweat. Putting in the drive and the effort. Not just today. Not just tomorrow. Every day.

Something I’ve never really put in before. Something I’ve never really pushed myself to do before.

Why? It’s a question I keep asking myself lately.

I think it was because deep down, I couldn’t believe in myself. I didn’t think what I had to say was worth listening to. I didn’t think that it meant anything. Wasn’t worth it. Because I was worthless. Because it was never going to work. I was just fooling myself.

So I would give up.

But the truth is, writing lives deep down in me. Mixed up with all this courage and adventure and spirit that actually is who I am. So I would try again.

And I suppose that’s it. The story of all of my life. This constant battle between the inner me and the outer person. Giving up and starting again.

Only, I’m tired of giving up. Tired of giving up on me. Tired of letting people down. Tired.

I guess it started changing when I moved to Colorado. Moving across half the nation on my own, dealing with finding a job (losing a job) and finding a job again. Finding my new trials family. Finding myself. Freeing myself. Things started growing inside of me. Confidence. Self-esteem.

Yet as sad as it is, my turning point this summer was a death. At least, it sticks in my brain as making me think. Chester Bennington, the lead singer from Linkin Park, one of the most influential things in my life, took his life this summer. He was only 41. That’s only 6 years more than me.

Linkin Parks’ songs are a big part of who I am. They talk about struggle and anxiety and depression, and so mnay times in my own life they were the words that I couldn’t say. That I couldn’t think of when I was hurting. They were my anthem to help me get back up. It wasn’t just songs. They were raw, honest words. Emotions.

They were my voice when I couldn’t find my own.

And here, one of the greatest voices I had ever known was gone. No, I didn’t know him at all. I’d only gone to one of their concerts, mostly because my anxiety makes concerts horrible. But they had been my voice. I’d known him through his songs. And now he was gone. He was only six years older than me.

There was a loss, but a loss I couldn’t explain at the time. It wasn’t really grief or sadness. It was an emptyness. A void. A something that I couldn’t really put words too. Now though, I think I understand it.

That day made me realize how much their songs had been my voice. How I had silenced my own voice for far too long. That the voice I had been using was gone. It was time for me to find the strength to use my own voice.

The fact is that we all have a voice. We all have an opinion. We all have a story. Our experiences. Our adventures. Our road that we walk.

I think I stopped so often because I had made myself believe that my voice didn’t matter. That I didn’t have a right to have a voice. I stopped because the voice I was trying to use was fake. It was more confident and happy than I felt. I didn’t feel real. So I would just stop. Because who was I to have a voice, of any kind.

I think a lot of people convince themselves that their voices don’t matter.

Yet deep down, we all know we have a voice. We all know it matters. So that’s why I keep trying.

There’s nothing wrong with trying. Again and again and again. Because it proves something. You are alive. You are trying. You are fighting.

I used to feel ashamed for failing. For giving up. For letting people down, even if it was only me.

I still regret letting people down. But I’m done with feeling ashamed for falling down.

I think that’s also what stopped my writing before. Feeling like I didn’t deserve to write. Like since I had given up, I didn’t deserve a second chance.

Well, everyone deserves second chances. And thirds and fourths. As long as you’re trying. Fighting. Growing.

I have confidence now. My voice is real.

We all have a voice. And it’s time we stopped being ashamed of it.

So this is my voice. Hope you enjoy it.