If you had to choose an animal
that best represents
what writing means to you,
what would you pick?
I chose a painted turtle.
So, why a turtle? It’s because I work hard to protect myself. I always have.
I have a strong shell to keep me safe. But every once in a while, I write something personal. It makes me feel vulnerable and totally exposed. I quickly poke my head and legs out, share a bit of myself, and then quickly retreat. It’s like I can only put myself out there for so long.
Writing makes me feel vulnerable.
At first glance, a painted turtle looks unassuming with his dark shell and olive skin. Looking down at him, you wouldn’t see bold patterns or designs. He easily blends into his surroundings. But what people don’t always see, is his bright and colourful underbelly.
I think there’s a part of me that I keep hidden too. It’s my bright and creative side.
I love colour. I love art and design. I love all things creative. You’d know it from my sock and underwear drawer but not from my black winter coat, black jeans, black boots… I’m literally wearing all of them right now in a coffee shop. But hidden out of sight are my bright orange fox socks that make me feel like a kid (Thank you for these, Mom. I love them!)
So back to the turtle anaology.
My colourful, hidden underbelly.
In addition to the colour, I’m also a mushball. I’m an emotional person. I care deeply about others and empathize to the point where I get really sucked in. Their mood and feelings become mine. My soft underbelly really needs that shell.
So that’s what writing is to me! A painted turtle.
Writing is creative, beautiful, unexpected, and emotional. This year I’m going to do something that is scary to me. I’m going to start sharing personal stories. I want to explore my narrative identity. You need to google the term. I love it.
I hope to share my colourful and vulnerable side more. Here’s to hoping that prey don’t notice.
I recently read Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown. In the book she mentions the importance of having a hard back, soft front, and wild heart. It immediately made me think of my turtle analogy from writing class (we were asked to choose an animal to represent what writing meant to us).
In order to protect my heart, I often do the opposite — I have a hard front and soft back. I keep a distance from others to avoid disappointment or hurt. I may act like I don’t care or seem upset in situations, but deep down, I am.
I’m learning to open up more through my writing and to set boundaries in my life to strengthen my back. For those who are close to me, they already know my soft front. As for a wild heart, I have no idea what that is but it sounds fun.
I like my painted turtle analogy. It will be interesting to see what animal I chose a year from now, after I spend more time outside of my shell. Wish me luck.
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