One of the most powerful things we can do in our lives is to use our voices. (Our voice is everything.)
We can use our voices to set healthy boundaries, to make decisions that nourish us, to get what we want. We can use our voices to protect ourselves, to pursue our passions.
We can use our voices to do good work and help others.
But first we need to know who we are. Who we really are.
For a long time I had no clue about the person I was. I was so focused on fitting in, and wanting to like the right things, do the right things and say the right things that I wasn’t sure who I was.
I wasn’t sure about everything from the superficial — such as my likes and dislikes — to the substantial — such as my beliefs.
Writing helps us figure out who we are and what we want. We are complex beings, with intricately woven layers. These 15 prompts may help you dig deeper and unravel a few of them.
- Write about the day you were born. Write about the obvious stuff, such as where you were born, what day, what time. Then explore the tiniest details. Talk to who was there. Are their recollections similar? Any distinct differences?
- Write what you remember as a child. Write about random memories. Make it a list. For me, it might be: I remember standing on the swings in the park across from my grandma’s building, and trying to swing higher and higher. This might’ve been one of the only times in my life I didn’t know fear. I remember my dad buying my mom and I two cans of Coke in our Manhattan hotel on our first day in America. I remember wanting another can (it tasted soo good!). But we couldn’t afford it. I remember recreating some of Picasso’s works in my fifth grade class and absolutely loving it. I remember trick-or-treating as a witch, and trying to outrun the boys chasing my friends and I with eggs. I remember wanting to be just like the popular girls and wanting to feel pretty.
- Write about your needs and wants as a 5-year-old, 10-year-old, 15-year-old, as a woman in your 20s and for every decade since then. What’s remained the same? What’s changed?
- Write what you’d like others to know about you. Start with 3 things.
- Write down your perfect day, from morning to night. Where are you? What are you doing? What’s the temperature? Is it sunny? Is the rain coming down? What scents do you smell? Flowers? Freshly cut grass? Massage oils? Candles? No detail is insignificant.
- Write down 5 things that anger you. Then write down how you’ll channel that anger into action.
- Write down 20 things that make you happy. It could be anything from your favorite foods to TV shows to physical activities to your favorite people.
- Write about your favorite physical attribute. Write about your least favorite attribute. What are the commonalities? Can you find a shred of gratitude for the trait you like least?
- Write about a time when someone’s perspective pissed you off. Why?
- Write about a time you felt incredibly uncomfortable in your skin. Why?
- Write about 3 things that help you feel comfortable in your skin today, or things that might help, which you’d like to try. (For instance, you might practice a body scan every day.)
- Write about the most recent time you were hyper-focused on an activity. What about this activity was all-consuming?
- Write about what you’d do with your days if you had more time.
- Write about your heroes, the people who are alive, the ones who’ve passed. Write about the books that have changed your life. (And reread them.)
- Write about your inspirations. The images that catch your eye. The words you can’t forget. The music that stirs you.
Write for as long as you like. But try to write for at least several minutes. Give yourself the permission and space to delve deeper, and explore the myriad layers that make up who you are.
* I was inspired to write this post after reading Barbara Abercrombie’s new book Kicking In The Wall: A Year of Writing Exercises, Prompts and Quotes To Help You Break Through Your Blocks And Reach Your Writing Goals.