As a teenager I had an Agony Aunt that I shared my deepest thoughts and issues about life, friends and boys I admired, from afar! If I ever had a problem I would go straight to that source and let it all out. My Agony Aunt was in the form of paper and pen. My words were in the form of poems.

I used to prop myself up in bed, late into the evening – the bedside lamp positioned to give light to my thoughts. I would let my pen take over, my mind would clear and I would write. Sometimes in anger, other times in sadness, if I felt joy, scared or confused. I would write. I would release the thoughts that were camped out in my head and then I would feel better.

I’m not sure what age I was when I stopped writing poems, I never really gave it much thought. That was until last November, 27th of November to be exact! Laid in bed, willing myself to go to sleep, to be an early riser, because that’s what ‘all the successful people do’. But when I turned round to get comfy, my arm reached for the lamp and my phone and this is what I produced:

So many critics
Sitting on the sidelines
Watching in the ring
Fighting with their mouths
Too scared to get in

Too scared to be on the stage
To let their vulnerability show
Leading instead with lethal words
Their ego dressed as bravado

So many judges
Sitting in their comfort zones
Protected by their screens
Typing insults furiously
Too scared to be seen

Too scared to embrace uniqueness
Feeling stronger as a clone
Laughing at those darlings
Who choose to stand alone

So many critics
Sitting on the sidelines
Wasting precious time
By focusing on others
Because their life’s just fine

My face when I see a critic at work!

I don’t know if or when I’ll write another poem, but I knew this was a message for me as I was about to embark on my ‘year of vulnerability’. A message to remind me that whatever I do there will be someone criticising it but to do it anyway. The more I step into my authentic self – the more I’ll hear the critics cry and honestly this absolutely makes me feel sick but there is no other way. As Elbert Hubbard said; “To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing and be nothing”

Emma Halliday
Writing poems from bed