Opinion Pieces and Me
I've changed my mind on opinion pieces...I'm really into them now.
Before stepping into my secondary identity as a writer, I had a shallow opinion of opinion pieces. Don't hate me; allow me to explain. I felt that opinion pieces were short rant articles fueled by outrage culture and to be fair, there was a specific timeframe between 2016 and 2017 where op-ed's were everywhere. I didn't want to feel upset all the time. I didn't want to read paragraph after paragraph of hard-hitting analysis that almost certainly raised my blood pressure to unhealthy levels. So, when I launched my writing career I mostly wrote How-To pieces about fitness because there is no gray area when losing weight. I now realize that opinion pieces weren't born from outrage culture. Outrage culture hijacked opinion pieces. I also discovered that my reticence to writing Op-Ed's had a lot to do with some of my mental hang-ups.
Op-Ed writing revealed to me that I was self-conscious about my writing prowess. I didn't go to journalism school, I went to business school and then launched a long career as a successful salesperson. I'm not even a massive reader. Deep down I felt my readers would be able to sniff out my lack of experience and that much of my work would fall flat. In retrospect, my insecurity is another reason why I stuck to a particular style of writing. I was all about bullet points and infographics because I needn't worry much about the flow of an article or any other characteristics that make a piece magnetic. I wasn't giving myself enough credit. Writing, like any activity, takes practice and I had next to none. But, every writer starts somewhere. I needed to give myself the grace to grow.
Op-Ed writing challenged my expectations of myself. I wanted to be behind-the-scenes managing the day to day operations of the business. I envisioned myself developing marketing strategies but never writing. However, now I look around and see the non-creative staff of online publications also wearing the hat of a writer. It's really cool. Writing is cathartic, and it's an excellent form of self-expression. I can think of nothing more beneficial to my company than giving everyone an outlet to express themselves creatively if they so choose. No person is inherently more creative than the next, and no one should feel limited by their title.
Op-Ed writing can be scary. Sharing your opinion on a global scale requires a lot of confidence. I wondered "why would anyone care what I think?" Now, I understand that my only job is to create and allow the message to resonate with each reader differently. I'm publishing my thoughts to spark a discussion, not in the hopes that everyone will agree with me.
So I've deepened my thoughts on opinion pieces. They're not merely ranting posts or requests for compliance. They're outlets for everyone, myself included, to expand and become comfortable with self-expression. We're all in this together.