I would probably tell you my secrets if you asked. Is that scary to you? I'm the kind of person that doesn't hold much close. Sure, there are things that I've committed to taking to the grave, but, to me, there's not much utility in keeping strange personal details close. I'd like to think that we live in a world that's slowly more welcoming. It's hard to understand why slapping my name and picture onto everything I write on this website, then, makes me so uncomfortable.
When I was 16, I went to a summer arts camp. It was an eye-opening experience for many reasons, but something interesting that I found was an attitude among many young, talented writers: they don't like writing about themselves. They don't like feeling exposed. They prefer writing about fiction and fantasy, drawing from their experiences but placing them far from home. There's no fault in that at all. Still, I have to wonder: Why is being authentic so scary?
It's not that I'm ashamed of my last few articles. It's the opposite, actually. I'll always find flaws, but they're as true of a representation of where I was when I wrote them as they'll ever be.
When I was invited to be a writer for Odyssey, I hadn't moved onto campus yet. I hadn't even crossed the country yet. I was sitting in my bedroom in California, and the opportunity came, so I did some research. What I found was that anyone with extreme enough opinions to write about Odyssey probably hates Odyssey.
The articles range from disgruntled writers complaining about management and editors to think pieces on other writing websites about how millennials pushing their half-baked thoughts onto everyone's Facebook feeds constituted the "death" of journalism. I guess millennials, in between not golfing or drinking wine, have found time to kill the journalism industry. As a side note, I don't think I'm a millennial (I was born in the year 2000), and I don't know if that makes my thoughts anymore or less baked.
A listicle on a different website that struck me specifically was about Odyssey articles that writers would regret in the future. I wonder if that's the answer, the reason that letting people hear us clearly is so uncomfortable. We grew up as cringe culture ran rampant. Whatever you say or do online can be turned into viral embarrassment or a BuzzFeed article. Your thoughts aren't safe. Your thoughts exist as a product for consumption. Your thoughts can be wrong.
Now, much of this we bring onto ourselves. We don't need to post every thought on social media. Sometimes, I'd be happier if I didn't read every hot take that the world decided to place in front of me at 2 a.m. Think before you type, and all that.
However, for my own sake, I want to get to a place where I can stand firmly despite criticism. I want to be transparent, and I don't want to bend over backward to convince the world that it's not a big deal. I don't believe that I'm so incredibly polarizing, but the threat remains, and I want to be able to take the criticisms and consequences as they come, without fear.