When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Toughening up

There have been a lot of wild ups and downs with the weather here in recent weeks.  Earlier this month we were outside in fall-weight jackets and shoes for a couple of days, eagerly soaking up the warmth of the bright sun, and this week we are bundling ourselves up in multiple layers to protect ourselves from blustery snow squalls and numbingly cold temperatures.

I've come to realize recently that the experience of writing about the details of your life, and then deciding to share that writing with the public, brings similar highs and lows.  Several days ago I was riding a wave of happiness.  I felt really proud of having completed a personal writing challenge, and when I spoke of that experience here, the comments I received suggested that the message seemed to resonate with others; one friend felt that the reminder to challenge the inner voice of self-doubt was worth sharing .  I was also very glad to hear this week that one of my recipes had helped a lovely young woman who lives thousands of kilometres away from me, but has some of the same food sensitivities that I do.  I've had many positive comments from readers over the past couple of years who have told me that my words or ideas have meant something to them, and it is this knowledge that inspires me to always keep searching within for new subjects to explore, write about, and share, in an effort to make real connections with people so we all know we're not alone.

But "putting yourself out there", so to speak, leaves one vulnerable to criticism, too.  And this week, I had several people from an online community where I sometimes share my posts say that they found my posting of links to my blog "annoying", that I was drawing too much attention to myself.  I would like to say that I just let those comments roll off my back, that I was okay with some people finding my posts bothersome (because really, you can't please everyone all the time), but that would be a lie.  The comments hurt, and made me feel anxious and embarrassed and upset.  They caused me to question why I do what I do, and just how much I should be sharing myself with people I don't even know.  They allowed the little nagging voice of self-doubt to resurface and shout quite loudly and meanly at me over the past few days.

I have been hyper-sensitive to whatever I perceive as criticism for as long as I can remember.  When I was a little girl, I can recall crying to my mom sometimes after a socially trying day at school that "nobody liked me" (not true), and being very easily upset by my dad's gentle and playful teasing.  My parents used to kindly suggest that I not take things so personally all the time.  I'm trying hard this week to remember that long-ago good advice.

Now that the cold sting of those hurtful comments from strangers has dulled a little bit, I have realized that I cannot let a few negative voices ruin what has otherwise been a very rewarding experience for me.  I write because I feel things deeply and have ideas that excite me; I share because I believe that even though we are all very different people, sometimes many of us feel the same things, and the ideas that excite one person often excite others and inspire them to create new and wonderful things, too.  The lovely connections I've had a chance to make with so many people, both old friends and new, along this journey by opening myself up online have proven to me that my beliefs probably have some merit.  I may be more careful about where I share my work in the future, but I still feel compelled to keep doing what I love.  I'm just going to have to learn to bundle myself up a little better to protect myself against the harsher, chillier days.

4 comments:

  1. This is something all of us, who share openly, open ourselves up to, isn't it? I'm so glad you are on the other side of the hurt. I think it would be impossible for these things not to sting a little. . . I think what is most important is that we stand up, dust ourselves off, and continue to move forward.

    In the end, being authentically who we are really is worth it, isn't ti?

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    1. Thanks, Summer. I agree wholeheartedly.

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  2. At least you can say you have the bravery to allow people to take such a close look at your life. It's scary to lay it all out there, but we'd be fools if we thought everyone is going to like what we write. That's ok though, because as you've discovered, the people who LOVE what you do, REALLY love what you do.

    Don't stop. :)

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    1. Thanks for the very encouraging words, Rae!

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