Happy New Year inspired friends! I have some inspiration and encouragement to share with you today. This is for those of us who have ever felt vulnerable, silly after sharing something with people, or afraid to show our wonderful wacky selves to the world. This is also for those of us who sometimes are our own worst critics, who wonder if anyone will actually care about the stuff we create, who worry too much about what people think, and who sometimes (or maybe often) second guess ourselves. So this is pretty much all of us at some point, right? Something fabulous happened to me recently and it has been a reminder yet again of why I should NOT second guess myself (and why you shouldn’t either).
An Affirmation I wrote in my magical notebook of goals and ideas:
Fact: As much as I enjoy it, I have a tendency to get shy about sharing and posting things. Many people may not know this about me, because I appear to exude confidence. I AM confident, and at the same time I get these huge inner critic attacks after sharing. I would say at least half the time I share in the form of photos, or words I write, I feel like deleting it after. Maybe a lot of writers go through this. Being a good writer takes courage and a big dose of not worrying too much about what people think. Sharing our lives or just the art we create, requires vulnerability. Even if you are not a writer, I think you will gain inspiration from what I have to share today. (Heck, maybe you are one of those people who shares stuff in conversation with people and later thinks why the heck did I say that?! Raising my hand here as well!)
Scary Sharing & an Inner Critic Attack:
A year or two ago I shared a poem on this blog. It was one of my 5 minute Friday writing exercises. If you have followed me for a long time, you may remember the poem. It was not my typical style filled with beautiful words or spiritual meanings. It was a silly satire poking fun at modern society and our addiction to cell phones and social media. It was an observation I made about how people have a hard time just BEING these days and need to multi task or else experience extreme boredom.
I have a goofy sense of humor and I like to write ridiculous or sarcastic things sometimes, but I don’t usually post them here. But heck, it was a 5 minute Friday, so I went ahead and hit the publish button on that poem. Then I had a vulnerability attack and the inner critics started pestering me about how stupid this was and how I should just go delete it. How people wouldn’t GET it. Or wouldn’t get ME. Despite the fact the poem was actually cleverly written, and my parents and I got a good laugh out of it. They liked it. I liked it. It personally cracked me up. However, I wasn’t sure it fit this blog, as inspiring it was not.
The inner critics got even louder the next morning after the blog post went out, when someone unsubscribed. My inner dialogue was like , “See. I told you this poem was dumb. It must have offended this person.” Then I started worrying too much about what other people might think and I called up one of my best friends and told her what happened. She had me read it to her and she liked it and encouraged me to keep it up. Thank God for good friends talking us down from the vulnerability ledge. I kept the poem up and the irony of what has transpired next is where the inspiration lies.
Then Miracles Started Happening!
It’s hard to believe, but this poem is my MOST searched for article now here at We Live Inspired! I can look in my back office here at my statistics, and for at least 6 months running now, probably longer, this is at the top of the list of things viewed on my site AND the top of the list for things searched for in Google (which gets people to land here). Isn’t that crazy? Wait- it gets weirder (aka better).
I have been contacted about this poem numerous times now. By school teachers across the USA asking for permission to use it in their lesson plans. It is most always for middle school aged children.
Then something big happened. I have been keeping it to myself through the holidays, which has been hard, because I am excited! About 3 weeks ago the editor of a small publishing house in France contacted me for permission to publish my poem in the new 7th Grade English textbooks they are making for 2017. The textbooks will be released in May of this year and there will be 30,000 copies printed and distributed throughout France and its overseas territories, with a print run of 5 years! The publisher’s website is HERE if you are interested in seeing it (it’s all in French, but smart phones and tablets can convert it to English language if you don’t speak French). My poem will be at the head of a chapter on social media and related modern issues.
Because these are textbooks, my poem will be used for educational purposes only for teachers, classrooms, students/parents. Meaning, this isn’t one of those publishing deals released to the public for sale where I will get royalty checks (it’s not for profit). However, education, reading and inspiring children is very important to me. Actually this is one of my life’s biggest dreams (to have my work in the classroom and have children enjoying it)!
The ultimate dream of course, is to have an entire book of my own works alone published and to make income from my books. This first publishing milestone is actually right up there with that though. At the end of the day, having people enjoy my work , especially children and educators, is the greatest reward for me. I get ridiculously happy at the thought of students reading my work (my poem will also be in digital format with an audio of it in the digital books). I wrote a blog post several months ago about my dream of being a writer as a child HERE.
I practically lived in libraries as a child and English was my favorite subject in school. I can remember being so inspired by the poetry I would read, even the silly stuff like Shel Silverstein. I wanted to be like the writers in those books and one day inspire others myself. So, I feel like I am finally on the path to realizing my biggest life dream! And who would have thunk that it would come from a poem I almost deleted!
What I’ve Learned About Following My Initial Instincts ( & not second guessing myself):
This is not the first time this has happened to me either. I am noticing a strange irony that that posts I want to delete the most (because of my own self judgement) are the ones that something happens with. Take for instance the Father’s Day post I wrote years ago about my Dad. I figured no one would ever read it or care since it’s not like I am a celebrity or something. Yet, I wound up being contacted by a guy who does Chicken Soup for the Soul type books (whose father is friends with Mark Victor Hansen, who wrote the forward for those books) about Dads, and he interviewed me and wrote a story about us for their site.
I have several more stories about the numerous times I judged or second guessed myself and yet, my sharing turned out to touch others in a big way. So herein lies the inspiration my friends. Never second guess yourself, and try not to be afraid to share and let people SEE the real you. Your quirky, fabulous self that you worry people will judge. It’s scary to be SEEN sometimes. It is vulnerable. However, you have no idea how many people you could inspire, how many lives you may touch. And even how many of your own dreams may come true if you daringly put yourself out there.
P.S. If you are a dream chaser, have patience. Most every cool thing that has happened to me took time. It’s hard to be patient, but just focus on doing what you love for the joy of it, and the rest seems to follow. I’ve noticed that it tends to be a year or two later that something I have created starts to really take off. Once you put yourself out there it is a grand adventure of miracles waiting to happen who knows when! How cool is that? :D If you delete, tear up or trash your work, how will you know where it could have gone? If you always keep your mouth shut for fear of people not “getting” you, you could miss out on some cool opportunities.
In other words: Use your voice and put yourself (or your art) out there.
Reader Questions: What holds you back from sharing yourself with the world? What areas do you tend to second guess yourself in? How can you practice brave little steps of being SEEN? p.s. I really do want to know, so feel free to leave a comment at weliveinspired.com .
Here’s to Believing in Ourselves,