I’ve been contributing to Thin Difference for a little over two years now. In that time, I’ve grown immensely — grown as a writer, as a professional, and as an individual. I developed a new appreciation for the craft of writing (and just how difficult it is) as well as for the myriad views and opinions of the other contributors on the Thin Difference team.
Thin Difference will be pausing after this month — for how long, I’m not sure — and as such, I’ll no longer have a platform on which to publish my views, observations, and reflections. I’m sad about this, but I knew it had to end eventually. All in all, I’m happy with the work I’ve done, the work we’ve done.
Lessons Learned: Writing and Wisdom
In honor of Thin Difference, and in honor of the platform it provided me, I’d like to reflect on some of the greatest lessons I learned during my time as a contributor.
Your Voice Matters and People Listen
Before I started writing for Thin Difference, I spent a good amount of time writing to and for nobody. I journaled religiously, and I ran a now-defunct craft beer blog — in short, I wrote a lot — but there wasn’t anyone really reading. I shared articles and other things I wrote with friends and family members, but I never had a significant readership. I was mostly okay with that. I liked writing, but I never thought I had all that much to say, at least concerning anything truly important. Moreover, I never thought anyone would take me seriously if I did get the chance to say something that I deemed “important.”
Then, through some very fortuitous connections, I began contributing to Thin Difference. When my articles went live, I began to gain a semblance of what could be called a “readership.” People commented on my articles, shared them on LinkedIn on Facebook. I even got a couple of appearances in SmartBrief. That was cool.
The thing I soon came to learn was that my voice mattered. My reflections and observations mattered. No one on the Thin Difference team — and none of our readers, to my knowledge — ever disparaged me because I happened to be young. No one ever discounted my insights because I was a Millennial. In fact, because of the driving philosophy behind Thin Difference — finding common ground across generations — people often listened to my views because I was coming at issues from a different perspective.
Thin Difference didn’t teach me how to write, nor did it give me my love of writing. Thin Difference did, however, give me an audience. It gave me an audience that listened and cared about what I had to say. I’ll always be thankful for that.
Writing Requires Vulnerability and Vulnerability Unlocks Significant Insights
It’s a bit ironic, but I didn’t do my most personal, vulnerable writing until I had a more public platform on Thin Difference.
Whether I was writing about leaving a friend group or my disabled mother, there were a few times where I put it all out there. There were times that I surprised myself, and there were a few times when I had cold feet ahead of submitting my article. I wondered how wise it was to invite others into my world, into my most personal experiences.
Now, with the gift of hindsight, I’m happy (and proud, to be honest) that I shared those stories with Thin Difference’s audience. Those stories challenged me as a writer; they challenged me to delve into experiences, emotions, and faults of mine that were often difficult to explore. Though writing these articles was quite uncomfortable, I came out of the experience with a greater knowledge of myself as both a person and a writer. I can only hope that my articles — especially those of a more personal nature — taught you something about empathy, reflection, or acceptance.
Wisdom Comes from All Generations and Walks of Life
The whole point of Thin Difference was to find common ground with others. Common ground, as I understand it, means to relate to, empathize, and collaborate with people whose views and life experiences may be different than yours.
I had always embraced the fact that I could learn from those who were different, older, and wiser than me. I had literature, and the universals offered in all those great works certainly helped me gain more empathy for my fellow humans. The issue was that those lessons were rarely localized, rarely focused on stuff that pertained to me as a young, burgeoning professional. Sometimes you don’t need human universals; sometimes, you just need to know how to cooperate with a difficult person at work, or how to navigate challenging professional requests.
My teammates at Thin Difference come from a variety of backgrounds and have a variety of experiences, opinions, and reflections. They are all, at their core, ordinary people who approach everyday professional and personal issues in unique ways — ways worth sharing. Thin Difference taught me that everyone possesses potentially valuable wisdom, regardless of their background or profession. Luckily for me, I was part of a platform that allowed others to share that wisdom.
Looking Back and Forward
These past two years spent writing for Thin Difference have been a truly valuable experience for me. I’ve learned about the value of a public platform, the power vulnerability can lend to one’s writing, and the depth of wisdom possessed by ordinary professionals.
I don’t know what’s next for any of us. But as long as we value patience, empathy, and the search for common ground, we’ll be moving in the right direction.
Join the Conversation
The End: Lessons on Writing and Wisdom
Zach – Thank you for sharing these key insights. I’ve enjoyed watching your growth as a writer and man over the last couple of years. You’ve got a place at LeadingWithTrust.com to share your thoughts and experiences. I’ll be reaching out to you directly.