I started writing each day because I had this feeling that I wanted to be a writer, but I had no idea what I really meant by that.
What would I write? How would I know if what I was writing was the right thing? What if I wasn't any good at it?
So I decided just to start writing ever day. Initially I would send my writing to my friend Billie each morning. After a few hundred days of that (poor Billie!) I was ready to publish my writing on a blog.
After a week I had a crisis, I hated what I had done. You see 'Dear Self' started out as 'How to Human'. My idea was to write about the dilemma of being a human. However, when I saw it out in public I could see that it looked like I was advising other people how to be humans.
I was mortified.
The last thing I wanted to do was tell others how to live their lives. I have no idea what I am doing almost all of the time. When I look at the plethora of self help gurus selling "10 ways to live the better you" or "8 life hacks to make your life the best life of all lives" I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach.
I nearly gave up. Nearly pulled the pin.
But then I went back and read everything I had written. And I didn't like most of it...but occasionally I found that some of the blog posts read like letters to myself, they were me learning something about the world and I thought that was interesting. I realised I was writing to myself about what it was like to be me in the world.
And this felt right.
So, it was a bit clearer, my daily writing is a letter to myself that helps me reflect on and makes sense of the things I am experiencing. And so Dear Self was born.
But why would I make such a personal letter public?
I believe that cultivating self awareness is one of the critical skills we need to develop in order for human beings to be able to live in harmony with each other and the broader natural world.
If we are unable to honestly and kindly see ourselves, in all our beauty and ugliness, then we are unlikely to be able to truly empathise with others and certainly are unlikely to want or be able to change our unhelpful behaviours.
If we, as humans, do not change our unhelpful behaviours then we will remain on our current trajectory...the outcome of which is not going to be pretty for ourselves, other animals and the planet.
I write and publish Dear Self everyday as a way of modelling the kind of honest self reflection that I hope will be helpful to all of us on this journey.
Dear Self has grown.
You can read the blog everyday. Just visit www.lukehockley.com.au/dear-self-blog/
I've been writing for a lot of days now. There are many hundreds of letters. I realised a few things about this. It is a treasure trove of ideas for me and it is probably a little overwhelming for others to know where to start. I also had a desire to connect these letters with more people, to make them easy to engage with, visually appealing. I wanted to have opportunities to be in the room with people when they experience them. I wanted to find ways to reach more people with this model of self reflection that felt authentic and honest.
And so I did a few things.
I started doing a drawing each day to go with my writing. This gave me a new way to reflect upon where I was. I also realised just how much I love drawing. And it gave me something visual to connect with each story.
Then, a bit later, I decided to collect all the letters about Friendship and make a performance out of them. I performed it a bunch of times for my friends and then performed it to an 'almost sold out season' (is that a thing?) at the Melbourne Fringe Festival. Now I'm touring the show to my friend's lounge rooms all over the country (I've got a friend in New York...so maybe the world!). If you want to host a Dear Self - Friendship performance in your own make-shift venue then you can! Check out how to become a host here.
I also made a shop...but more about that later.
I have more plans for Dear Self, a monthly reading, a podcast, a Youtube channel...but for now that has got to be enough.
In the end I just hope that Dear Self inspires you to think about what it means to be you in this world.
That's not too much to ask, is it?