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I have wanted to write for a long-time now, yet this is the first time I have written in public. My own thoughts have been holding me back.

There are so many people already writing and so many things have already been written. Will anything I write be relevant? Will it not have been said before?

I’m not a natural writer. I find it difficult to communicate what I really mean, to structure my ideas so that others can understand them. In other areas of life, I pick things up naturally yet when writing I feel like a duck out of water. So spending time writing, as I am doing this very moment, may not seem like a logical thing to do.

I want to develop my ability to write to enable me to communicate ideas that can make a positive impact on the world. I understand the concept of deliberate practice in developing new skills. But how can I be motivated to practice if I don’t feel what I write is helping anyone right now and my ambitions of writing things with meaning and impact seems so far off that I’m not sure I will ever reach that point?

I’m worried that I am wasting time. I feel that I have not achieved enough for my age. I am 23 years old and have dreams of helping others and changing the world, yet this often seems like a distant fantasy. My efforts towards this goal in the last year seem, at times, to have brought me tangibly no closer to achieving it.

I feel I am in a catch 22. I am willing to work hard and devote myself to developing my skills in an area that will enable me to make the maximal positive contribution to the world that I am able to do, yet without some sort of guarantee that I am investing my efforts in an area that will have an impact I find it so difficult to work diligently and consistently towards this goal.

And what can I offer that is unique? What information and ideas can I create that have not already been thought of a hundred times before, and expressed more clearly than I am able?

I worry about what others will think. While I write, friends and acquaintances pop into my head and I ask myself what they would think. I worry that my writing will change the way people view me, and this frightens me. Instinctively, I want to select who reads what I write and who doesn’t but I appreciate this is neither realistic nor feasible if I want to reach a wide audience. My heart rate increases when I ask myself whether I will post this or keep it for my eyes only.

My end goal is to write things that are read by many people, the majority of whom I will never meet yet will naturally form opinions about me. I want my ideas and writing to have widespread positive impacts, through upscalability. Yet I am worried about the people I already know reading what I write and changing their ideas about me. I am scared to break the mould, scared to do something that is not well-established as the ‘norm’. But perhaps this fear is a signal that this is indeed exactly what I should be doing.

I worry about the permanence of what I write. If published on the internet, the writing becomes immortalized. Will I regret this in future? If I express my opinions candidly, could this come back and bite me? Could it bring my professionalism or commitment to my job into disrepute, or hinder me in some other way? As a perfectionist, I am terrified of expressing my thoughts and feelings, which are inherently imperfect, through a permanent means.

Or will I regret it more if I never take the risk? Never take the tentative step into uncertainty? Never put my heart and soul out in public for people to view at their pleasure, to judge and to remark upon? Would I deprive myself of the potential to form deep connections with other people by doing so? Is there a middle ground to be found?

What outcome am I expecting when I write? A part of me wants recognition, I will admit, though I am not necessarily proud of this fact. I also want to write things that will inspire and revolutionise, that will change the world for the better. Which is my greater motive? It’s hard to be entirely objective when assessing this, though I believe it is the latter.

Regardless, does the ‘true’ motive matter? If a wealthy person gives money to charity out of guilt, he will still save the same number of lives — does his motive change the morality of the action? Some may argue that it does. If he is aware of his guilt acting as his primary motivator, does this change it further?

I could obsess about the fundamental genuineness of my motivations to help others, but I believe this would be an inefficient use of time. If the desire to help others provides me with the energy and determination to do so, then I believe it would be unjust of me not to utilize that energy, whether I want the recognition for doing so or not. I can cross that less significant hurdle if and when I get to it.

Yet the concept of “making the world a better place” is a nebulous one... Where to begin? I could attempt to find the most fertile ground where the seed of greatest positive impact can be planted. But I must also factor in my own strengths and weaknesses. For example, a powerful politician may be able to do great things, but would I ever be able to reach a position with enough power to do so? All in all, this is incredibly difficult, perhaps even impossible, to accurately predict.

How much impact can words even have? Even the greatest ideas on paper are only ideas until they are acted upon. Anything I write has a litany of potential stumbling blocks; it may not be read, it may read but not retained, it may be retained but not utilised, etc.

Another motivation for writing is its therapeutic effect. I find it very enjoyable to write about my ideas, as writing is in itself a form of creation. You are creating something that is unique and thus an expression of your uniqueness, which I believe is one of the most valuable things you can contribute to the world. I feel satisfaction when I finish writing something, even if I am not happy with the end result. Having found it so difficult to write to completion in the past, the simple act of finishing affords me a number of positive emotions.

In conclusion, I want to write because I hope that through doing so I can have a positive impact on the world, naive as this may be. But I also write for my own enjoyment. Writing is one of the things I find hardest to do and I am riddled with self-doubt, some of which may be justified, but I will continue to do so and see where it takes me.

Data Scientist + Junior Doctor in London, Cambridge medicine grad, striving to improve healthcare through technology and education.

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