Learn by expressing yourself

It is certainly true that what a person is determines how he writes or speaks. But the converse is also true, at least in part. In the struggle to give clear and natural and forceful and sometimes beautiful expression to one’s experience, one becomes a more honest and genuine and decisive and imaginative person.

Ellsworth Barnard, English for Everybody 135 (1979).

This quote brought to mind the variety of conversations I’ve had over the time since I started talking to more women. Although I was ostensibly happy before things fell apart, circumstances led me to question things I thought were true about myself. (Apparently,  I’m not as shy as I thought nor as disorganized. I’m stronger, more loving, and more resilient than I expected.) I also undertook to figure out what I liked and wanted in my friends and those who might become more.

Someone recently referred to one online profile as a self-marketing piece. That’s true on its face of course, but I think of it as a self-discovery piece. Writing down what I want and like is an important step in my “recovery.” It’s partly troubleshooting and after-action review (What worked? What didn’t? Why did you do x instead of y?) but also a stake in the ground, a statement of values and attributes that are like a surveyor’s orange paint marking metes and bounds.

In the same vein, then, the best conversations I’ve had have stretched me in ways that my mind responds to, dragging my emotions fervently into the mix. The idea of being energized, of being interesting by being interested, stokes me more than I would have guessed. And, as the quote hints, it fosters growth in many ways.

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