Have you ever heard of Hildegard von Bingen? You might have heard her called Sibyl of the Rhine. Same person. Well, here’s the thing about Hildegard/Sibyl. She was one of those people who was good at everything. Among her accomplishments, she ended up writing at least 69 musical compositions (plus verse), 3 books of visions, and many letters to all sorts of correspondents. Hildegard created her own modified Latin alphabet, gained renown as a healer (she wrote a book about how to use different medicinal herbs to treat ailments), and was a respected woman at a time when this was almost an oxymoron. Indeed, although she has not been canonized, she is such a beloved figure that she is sometimes called Saint Hildegard.
You might think, given all of these accomplishments, that Hildegard would have been a pretty confident person. Maybe even a little full of herself. I mean, if people gravitated to you to hear your advice about things ranging from medicine to mysticism, you might feel kind of happy with yourself, right? Indeed, we experience this in the online world a lot. People come to our blogs, people tweet us with questions, and it’s hard to remember that we are still just our regular ole normal selves.
In the case of Hildegard, though, the world almost did not get to benefit from her amazing contributions:
But I, though I saw and heard these things, refused to write for a long time through doubt and bad opinion and the diversity of human words, not with stubbornness but in the exercise of humility, until, laid low by the scourge of God, I fell upon a bed of sickness; then, compelled at last by many illnesses, and by the witness of a certain noble maiden of good conduct [the nun Richardis von Stade] and of that man whom I had secretly sought and found, as mentioned above, I set my hand to the writing. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hildegard_of_Bingen).
That’s right. As talented as she was, as respected as she was, as amazing as she was, Hildegard almost did not sit down to write anything. Even though she had so much to offer, and even though it ended up that writing brought her great joy and peace of mind, she almost did not begin to write. The world almost missed out.
What are you holding back?
One of the great problems in life is that we don’t always know what we can offer until we sit down and start to *do* things. A writer does not know how good they are until they start to write. A singer cannot know how good her voice is until she opens her mouth and lets the sound come out. A musician cannot know how good he is until he sits down at the piano and begins to play.
Hildegard would never have known her capacity to affect people if she had not made the decision to write, despite any feelings of worthlessness she experienced.
What are you withholding from the world? What are you holding back? Are you thinking about blogging but you’re not sure you’re a good enough writer? Are you thinking you’d like to start a business but you’re not sure you’re cut out for it?
There’s only one way to find out. Let me fulfill the role of Richardis von Stade (but you can call me Margie). Go ahead and try it. Write something down. Let a song come out of your voicebox. Let music play from your fingers. You might find that you’re a lot better than what your brain is telling you. You might find you have one heck of a lot to offer. Who knows, maybe you are the next Hildegard von Bingen of the blogging world or the business world. Maybe it turns out you actually are fantastically good at a lot of things. Maybe it turns out you have the power to affect, in a positive way, a whole ton people. Maybe your work, whatever that may be, will be remembered centuries or even millennia from now.
But you’ll never know if you don’t sit down to try it.
What are you waiting for?
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/klaudi/5604377366/ via Creative Commons