One of the things I do when I’m on The Internets (which is, you know, all of the days) is watch YouTube videos. I used to sometimes make them, and maybe I will again one day, but that’s neither here nor there (except I do think it’s kind of there a little bit).
SO YEAH. Charlie McDonnell posted a video about how he was feeling unhappy and scared. It’s a very honest video from one of my favorite content creators on all of the internet. After watching the video (I’m so behind on my YouTube and blog feeds with NaNoWriMo taking up all of my spare minuteses), I found that there were a TON of amazing responses, because people really care about Charlie. So I wanted to make my own response – but not in the form of a video – because I’m Scared, too, and posting a video would just take way too much out of me right now, both physically and emotionally.
(( Also I’m so much better at writing than I am at speaking. ))
So in response to that video I want to say this to The Internet:
I am a creator. I write blog posts and I draw pictures and I plan to do things that I never end up sharing because I’m Scared that people won’t like what I make, and therefore not like me. I know that there are always going to be people who don’t like me or that think I am stupid or something worse, but knowing that doesn’t help me feel better at all. It’s hard enough learning to find the confidence to actually make something, and I haven’t quite mastered the confidence thing yet, without having to worry about whether or not I’m being judged on what I’ve created. Because like it or not, you’re going to be judged. I’m Scared that people don’t read my blogs because they don’t like me, or that they won’t like my blogs period. My blog doesn’t get a lot of attention or a lot of views – not the way it did when I was ‘Jaime 2.0’ or ‘Blogging for Sanity’ – even when I’m very active I’m lucky if I break two views a day. And that makes me really sad. It actually kind of hurts. If someone doesn’t like my blogs, they don’t like me. That’s my train of thought there, always.
Hank Green said that one of the most annoying pieces of advice anyone can give you is to just “be yourself”, and he’s right. Because what does that even mean?
And then you have the creation that matters most, to all of us, and that is the scariest and most dangerous and most intimate and most beautiful creation that everybody gets to make, and you only get to make one of them. And that’s The Self.
This is why I totally hate it when people give the advice to just ‘Be Yourself’, because, like, who is that? Because we aren’t born with a Self. We create our Selves. You create you. You make you out of the books that you read and the expectations of culture and the interactions with your friends and your family and a million other factors. And because the Self is this terrible intense creation and the most important creation that we all make, when someone tells you that they don’t like that thing, that’s terrible. Which is why talking to a stranger is always scary, like to me anyway, I don’t know. I feel like everybody must feel like this to some extent. Because when you talk to a new person you are making you inside of them and you don’t want to do a bad job. And that’s why we all fear judgement so much, because judgement is just someone creating you inside of their head without your permission, without full knowledge of who you are. They’re making you, but they’re making you improperly. It’s terrifying. It’s absolutely terrifying.
And there are a few ways that I’ve found to make it less terrifying. You can create the bare minimum of creation, you can not try very hard, that’s good. You can be really bland, you can just create really bland things that look like everything else that everyone else has ever created. Or you can create things that you don’t care about, at all. Or for people who you don’t care about. Or you can just never ever share the things that you create. And of course all of these strategies are terrible ways to live. It’s terrible to see people doing this with their creations, but the most terrible creation to see people do this with is their Self. Trying to be boring, trying to look like everyone else, or worse, not trying at all. (quote from Hank Green)
That last bit he described there is me. I create the bare minimum when it comes to my Self most days. I don’t say a lot of the things I think, because in my experience, people don’t like me for the things I think and say.
One of the things I’m Scared of is not being as well liked as someone else. I often regret even opening my mouth at all after I speak because I can almost see people thinking I’m an idiot, even if they’re at the other end of the various strands of Interwebs. So when I’m in situations where I’m Scared like this, I simply don’t speak at all. I say the bare minimum. And I don’t share the things I create the same way I don’t share my Self, because the things I make are part of me. Everything I write or draw is a small piece of me, and when I share it, that piece of me becomes available for all of the world to see and judge. That’s down right scary.