I care a lot about what people think of me. I know this shouldn’t be the case, and I know that others’ opinions of me certainly shouldn’t influence my view of myself but I’ve always been quite insecure. Making things and sharing them with others, especially online for all the world to hypothetically see, has always been an extremely uncomfortable process for me. With all that being said, however, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how unaffected I’ve felt when sharing these newsletters. Upon reflection of this anomaly, I’ve come up with a few reasons as to why I think that is.
The main reason why this process hasn’t been as uncomfortable as I thought it would be, is because when I set out on this venture, I set out to write for me. Right from the get-go, I knew why I was doing it and I knew what I wanted to get out of it. In my case, any opinions that people had about my writing would not change my purpose for doing it, and in fact, any feedback good or bad would only enhance its purpose. If I had set out to grow an email list, or hit a certain number of views, or get a certain number of comments or replies, then the purpose and worth would be tied to something outside of my control that would toy with my attention and emotions. Instead, I worked all of that out beforehand and was clear on my personal, intrinsic metrics. So as long as I stay grounded in my original purpose, I should be relatively safe from the discomfort that I’d normally feel when sharing something.
The second reason why I haven’t really cared what others might think is because this newsletter is one of a million things that I’m working on or would like to work on. My interests change on a daily basis and because I need to cycle through everything in order to feel sane, my eggs are permanently in as many baskets as I can hold. I’m trying to learn how to manage this better, but the reality is, once I publish a newsletter I’m onto something else. As I mentioned last week, I’ve found it helpful to start and finish the newsletter on a single day, so it doesn’t typically cross my mind throughout the rest of the week. If writing was my singular focus or a career aspiration, then I’d find it hard not to be consumed by what other people think, but since it’s just one of many hobbies for me, I’m glad to publish it and cut ties so I can jump into whatever’s next.
Reason number three as to why I don’t cringe every time I post something, is because of my growing awareness that no one really cares all that much. That might sound depressing but if you’re insecure and care too much about what others think, it’s actually a comforting perspective. This isn’t to say that literally no one cares about what you make, or that what you make doesn’t matter, it’s just to say that people have their own busy, all-consuming lives to navigate every day. I think art and creativity are meaningful, necessary, worthwhile things that can have a far-reaching impact on those around you, but if you’re worried someone’s lying awake at night laughing at how bad your work is, I don’t think you have anything to worry about.
The last part of the equation for me is similar to the previous one, which is the fact that at this point in time almost no one is actually reading what I post or send out (shoutout to the few of you who are though; I’m amazed anyone does care, so thank you!). If I had an audience waiting each week to read what I had to say, that would change the dynamics immensely. As much as I wouldn’t want it to, I’m sure it would affect how I approach writing and it would be very hard to not get caught up in what other people think. I’m more than happy to use this weekly practice of sharing what I write as nothing more than a personal accountability tool and actually prefer that no one reads it, but it does help push me outside my comfort zone.
As far as I can tell, these are all of the contributing factors as to why sharing my writing hasn’t been as uncomfortable as I thought it would be. In closing, I will add that all of this is not to say that you should completely ignore what other people think. Especially creatively, it’s a good practice to get other people’s feedback, to genuinely consider their opinions and perspective, to learn to evaluate your work more objectively, and to be able to handle all types of criticism, but if you struggle with sharing your work, perhaps one of these reasons applies to your own situation and could make the process of sharing things a little less scary. It’s not as bad as you’d think.