Write What You Know

Allison Nazarian Inspiration, Life Lessons

That’s the go-to advice when the question is “What do I write about?

And like many things that are cliched or over-used, it is actually true: Writing what you know is the basis for beautiful, brilliant, true life stories.

So today, in the middle of a week in which I’ve faced some hard facts (mostly about myself), made some tough but huge progress and committed to my next round of changes (more on that in another post) professionally and personally, that is precisely what I will do.

I will write what I know.

I know that true friendship is like nectar from the gods. And by “true friendship,” I suppose what I really mean is love from people who are under no obligation to love me. Unwavering and non-judgmental and seemingly always powered on “high” when I am closest to “low.” It sustains me. It, still, surprises me. It moves me in ways that can bring tears to my eyes, maybe a little because I still have this nagging feeling that I really don’t deserve any of it.

I know words. And I don’t mean, simply, that I am a writer or I know how to write, though I will admit to both. It is way more than that. Words are my language. My lifeline. The way I connect with anything else or anyone else on this planet. When I watch a movie or an extravagant performance (just saw “Ka” in Vegas, didn’t love it like everyone else) or listen to music, it isn’t the visual that gets me, it isn’t the costumes or the glitz or the scenery or anything else but the words. The meaning. The choice of this word over that word. The way they sound. The flow. The soul underneath this particular combination of letters that may never in the history of words have been put together in quite this way. The difference between “jubilant” and “ecstatic” and “blissful” and “sunny” is something I am both in awe of and endlessly engaged by. It may be weird. But this is me and this is I know.

I know disappointment. (Wrote about it more in detail here.) I have been disappointed. Let down, wronged, pushed, pulled, screwed over, jerked-over, cheated and double-crossed. I am sure you have, too. I know disappointment well enough to know that I have not seen the last of it. I also know, now, that disappointment is not something someone does to me, but something I allow myself to feel or have. I do not or cannot control anyone else. I do not own their actions or thoughts or motives or reasons. But I own my expectations. And I own my reactions. So if I know who is important and what really matters, then I can create space that separates me and my power from those things-I-cannot-ever-control-that-can-only-take-my-power-if-I-let-them. If I begin to practice what I know – that disappointment is a reaction that comes from unmet expectations – then I continue to focus on what works even in the face of what doesn’t work.

I know a good time. I don’t mean like a disco-and-vodka-and-platform-shoes good time. But my good time. I know what feeds me, what is fun for me, what makes me laugh, what gives me peace, what calms me, what gives me the most happiness. I know those things. That may not sound like a big deal to you, but it is to me. Trying to find your good time where it doesn’t (and may not ever) exist or trying to conform to what others’ idea of what a good time should be is freakin painful. Knowing with certainty and clarity what you want (and by extension what you don’t) is freeing. Being able to stand strong in that and convey the certainty of these feelings to others is empowering. The earlier in our lives that we recognize this knowing and have the strength to voice it, the better. I know it.

I know fear. I know it because I know that anything that isn’t love is, by definition, fear. Excuses are fear. Meanness is fear. Those people who disappointed and under-appreciated and messed with me? Fear. Judgment of others and our own often-harsh self-judgment is all about fear. At the risk of sounding like a picture book for a five-year-old, it is pretty safe to say that most bad things are, at their core, fear. Period.

I know compassion. I know it because I often don’t have enough of it. I know it because I am trying to practice it more and I can feel it way down in my soul when I am lacking in it. I know it because I know how it feels when I am on the receiving end of it. I know because when I am putting it into practice, right in the thick of whatever the situation is, it feels right. As right as anything anytime can feel. I know — and don’t know — patience and grace for many of those reasons as well.

I know what it feels like to mess up. To make a mistake…a big one. I know the relief of finally making a huge decision I’d been agonizing over. I know what making something happen despite it having no reason to happen tastes like. I know what an unsolicited “Mommy, I love you” feels like. I know how it feels to help an old lady on a motorized scooter get her Lean Cuisine dinners out of the freezer at Publix. I know how it feels to try to prove myself to someone who doesn’t or shouldn’t care. I know the pure deliciousness of being on the receiving end of “You are an amazing writer” or “I always feel like you are writing just to me.” I know how I feel when I see someone I know to be dishonest and rotten getting rich or gaining fame or shirking responsibility. I know uncertainty and I know down-to-my-bones certainty. I know real hugs. I know real hugs from the person who, in that moment, is the only person on the face of this planet whom I want to hug. I know how it feels when someone really and truly “gets” me, sometimes even better than I get myself.

That is some of what I know. I know lots. So do you. I also know just enough to know that all I know is a tiny speck in comparison to all that I do not know.

What about you? What do you know?