My Superwriter Origin Story
I’ve always loved writing. I wrote short stories and novels starting from the age of 8 with my first self-published (i.e. tissue-paper bound) novella, Hockey Dogs. I continued to write novels every few years, but something changed by the time I’d blown out the candles on my 14th birthday. I stopped sharing those stories, whereas I used to send them via email to friends. Now, I kept them either to myself or with my mom for feedback.
Why was that?
Writing to escape
Years of bullying for my appearance, my unique skills, and my views had trained me into believing that I was safer if I hid away. I felt agonizingly “weird” and truly believed that something was wrong with me.
Writing stories was simultaneously an escape, yet more vulnerable than ever if it got into the hands of the wrong person. I thought that reading about my thoughts, experiences, or even fictional imaginings would reveal the truth. I am not normal.
And so I hid my words and resolved never to share them unless they were perfectly crafted and considered. Which meant… self-imposed writer’s block. It meant anxious brain fog, self-censoring even during what should’ve been brainstorming, and feeling embarrassed when I’d written anything outside what seemed like it’d be accepted. I was safe. And I was absolutely miserable.
Rock Bottom Beliefs
My insecurity with my story and identity affected my life in visible ways as well. During high school, when the agony reached its peak, I hid myself away from social scenarios.
I carried a separate bag, besides my backpack, full of books that I could escape into when faced with time alone before the friends I did have got out of class.
I avoided eye contact with cool people, and boys I thought were cute, because any attention drawn to myself would’ve generated disgust and I preferred that they just not see me.
Then, I stayed in a toxic friendship years past its expiration date because she had previously been one of the only people to ever accept the real me. And in my mind, I couldn’t replace lost friends. I’d been lucky, and never could be again.
As you might guess by now, there was also an underlying anxiety disorder that had exacerbated all that negative feedback as a kid and transformed it into such powerful, negative beliefs about people, myself, and the catastrophic nature of the world. And the anxiety disorder impacted both my internal and external world. I worried about how I dressed. (Appropriately. Invisibly.) I exploded at my family often because it was the only safe place to show emotion. And life was honestly, very, very hard.
A (literal) flight to the adult world
As a young adult in my second year of university, I reached a breaking point. For years, I’d wanted to study abroad, and ended up signing on to do a gap year teaching English near Barcelona, Spain. The emotional risk was enormous, living in a new place, with no one I knew, using 2 different languages I’d never spoken before, and doing a job I’d never tried. But it had become more painful to disappear from the world than it was to try showing up again, just one last day. And thank goodness I did.
Suddenly, I was in the “adult world” where thankfully, more people have empathy, patience, and politeness than 10-year-old mean girls. Many of those mean girls themselves have gone through some shit, and come out a little fairer on the other side. People showed kindness to me first, when I was accepted right away by the two other university-age girls on the teaching program with me. That made all the difference.
A month later, I was safe enough to share with one of them some of the negative beliefs I had, especially about how I appeared and showed up in the world. She was able to respond with the eyes of an adult who’d met me, with compassion, and with ideas to help turn those beliefs around.
Who am I? The road to integration
Over the next year, I had enough opportunities to question my crippling fear of judgement, and enough connection to peers who understood me – and wanted to – for the first time, that I began to show up more, and take more risks.
By age 21, I reached out to a therapist through my company’s Employee Assistance Program (thank goodness for benefits like that) who helped me make strides I never ever imagined possible.
- I learned to question the spiral of anxiety with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques.
- There was a safe space to reconnect to the parts of me I’d labelled “weird” or “wrong.”
- I created safety for my hurt, scared inner child with a more loving and gentle adult voice of my own.
And I gave that little girl room to play.
She started taking risks and writing stories, and taking more risks and writing blogs, first for that company, then for others as I started to branch out on my own. Within a year, I was writing for other people’s websites and creating educational content driven by stories that engage the world. I wrote everything from email series about the journey of grief, to cover letters and grant applications, to technical advice pieces, and blog posts about multicultural gardens.
Writing actually became a major part of my healing. And now I share who I am on my own blog because I am comfortable with myself, and understand how to care for myself in the midst of fear and other people’s judgement. I know it’s important to share this, because freeing my voice helps set a precedent, and shows other women that it’s safe and beautiful to share theirs too.
A superwriter is born
I turned my side writing gigs into a full time business with Intrepid Emma. I chose the name Intrepid as an acknowledgement for the bravery I’ve developed to show up, and stand out, because it means I’m sharing my true, valid self.
With Intrepid Emma, I work daily on my mission to help other women find the safety and acceptance they need to show up and tell their stories. I coach them at least as much through their mindset and negative beliefs as I do on their writing and provide revisions.
I’m here to help women show up, and get okay with being seen and heard, in their business and life. The way I know best, is to help them embrace ownership of their story through the power of words. And I love every minute of it.
Free your voice too
I’d be thrilled to support you on your own storytelling journey. Are you ready to sit down, coffee in hand, with a writing coach who believes in your message and gives you the structure you need to make your writing dreams a reality? Check out my services pages. Let’s work 1-on-1 to create consistent content that showcases your authenticity and expertise, increases your visibility, and gets you a stream of ideal clients flooding in.
Or get to know more about my move to go all-in with Intrepid Emma here on the blog.