Yesterday I had an idea, and I wrote a blog post. It took me many hours. When I finished it, I thought, this is weird and cheesy. But this morning, I gave it some edits and decided I needed to get on with my life. I took a calculated risk. I published it.
Two hours later, no one had liked it and A PERSON HAD UNFOLLOWED ME on Facebook. I am not exaggerating. A PERSON. HAD. UNFOLLOWED ME.
I continue to not-exaggerate when I tell you that I considered quitting everything. I could go back to dashing things off every few months when the spirit seizes me. I prayed a sad prayer about whether I should give up my professional-writing dreams and just be content brightening one person’s day, every once in a while, like I used to do.
And God was like, uh, no. Get a grip.
So I did some chores so I could think.
Had I ruined my blog by publishing a weird, cheesy post? Of course not. I’m damn proud of my blog. And someone, somewhere will like my little story. But it felt like I had failed in some really important way. Maybe I’m a little too used to people telling me how great my writing is. Maybe in a year of transition, of identity shift, I’ve staked a little too much on all those compliments. Maybe this is a tiny, tiny dose of that humility I, you know, prayed for earlier this week.
But even if I had actually failed, even if everyone stopped pity-following me, even if I never publish a book—wouldn’t that sort of be the definition of “calculated risk?” You might fail. Actually, if you practice a craft, you will fail. That is part of the whole thing. If you want to never fail, Being A Creative should be last on your list.
Here is another thing. I am an unfollower. It’s my phone and I only let a few things on it and I unfollow people every day. So if my thoughtless click caused this reaction in someone else? I would be super annoyed. DON’T PUT THAT ON ME, I would think. Your happiness, neurotic stranger, is 100% not my responsibility.
I’ve been thinking every day for the past few weeks about what it means to serve as a writer, as someone who has to try to make a living by trying to become a public speaker. What can I give? How can I help? But today it hit me that as long as I’m fixated on likes, hearts, and thumbs-ups, I’ll always be taking more than I give. I’ll always be operating out of fear. I’ll always be trying to reflect some audience back at itself instead of offering something unique—and maybe even giving someone else permission to be weird and cheesy.
It’s a weird way to relate to ourselves: by broadcasting things. It used to scare me to death; our devices and apps weren’t designed to make us better people. But I’m finally seeing hope. We don’t have to do what the devices and apps tell us: check them constantly, obsess over our stats, build our lives around our feeds. We just have to be good people, which has honestly never been easy. Or safe. Or un-cheesy.
But it’s worth it.
Likes and ♥♥♥,