How are you doing? Good to hear, now let’s talk about me.
In my freshman year of high school, I already knew that I wanted to be a writer, so I started documenting my “exciting” life on a blog. I was unapologetic, frank, and sometimes I was mean. I was candid about arguments with my parents, conversations with my friends, and all the rude things I thought about my English teacher. I took particular offense at him, because it was my favorite subject and I felt like he wasn’t teaching it properly. To me, it felt like I was doing myself (and my classmates) a public service by uncovering the “truth.”
My intentions were (kind of) pure, but I still got into a ton of trouble. I’ve repented for my mistakes, and I’ve learned from them. But beyond realizing that whatever rude thing you say online comes back to you, this brash honesty in my blog unwittingly freed me from the fear of being wrong.
That’s probably why I feel a little disappointed, when I think of how you are. I was a jerk of epic proportions, and I said a lot of hurtful things, but I’m weirdly okay with that now. You’re not gonna wanna hear this, because the truth stings like peroxide on a flesh wound: I’m worried that you’re getting kind of boring. You seem to have carved your life into one big advertorial, all bells and whistles without any substance. You’ve forgone sincerity for commercial appeal: your tweets and Instagram posts about places or products are criminally nice, because you worry that an inch of honesty might not bode well with potential sponsors. You don’t want to offend anyone, so you’d rather lie than speak your mind. You seem to have imported your words and thoughts from a PR factory, and I think you’ve sacrificed sincerity for… what’s a better term for “ass-kissing”?
It’s not like you’re coming from a terrible place; I get it. With our reputation on the line online, it’s hard not to package ourselves into the most darling version we can come up with. But aren’t you tired of trying to please everyone? Is it really so bad to be wrong once in a while?
Rest assured, I think your anxieties are valid. When people tell you to be confident in your choices by ignoring what other people say, run in the opposite direction. “Who gives a crap if some people don’t like you?” they will ask, and it’ll sound scary because you do. I mean, I do. I give a huge crap if people don’t like me or what I do. Everybody cares about what other people think, even a little. So don’t condition yourself into thinking that this is the path to being confident in your choices (and subsequent) mistakes. Trust me, it is not.
You most certainly should care about whether or not people will like you. Decide on what you feel, listen to what others have to say, and find a spot between these two ideas that you’re comfortable with. That way, you can be in a cushy position if you encounter someone with opposing views. You may not agree, but at least you know that you are coming from a place of intelligence instead of sheer rudeness (like I used to be).
Just brace yourself for the inevitability that someone will be mean to you, and that’s okay. News flash: even if you did everything perfectly, not everyone’s gonna like you. I’m the prettiest, smartest, most talented girl in the world, but not everyone likes me. (Why, Prince Harry? Why?) You are neither a hundred-dollar bill nor a KFC gift certificate. Unless you can transform yourself into one of those things, there will always be someone in this vast universe who thinks that you stink.
The thing is, with or without the fear of making a mistake, you are going to be wrong at one point in your life. You are going to say something that someone will dislike. You will create something that someone might find offensive. Your path — every path in life — is littered with rocks that you could potentially trip on. You may be smart about dodging some of them, but remember: even Beyoncé has tripped down a flight of stairs during a concert. You know what she did, though? Girlfriend got up from the bottom of the stairs and danced as though she meant to trip.
Beyoncé teaches us two very valuable lessons here: that she is a mothereffin’ goddess, and that mistakes are inevitable but not beyond repair. So don’t be afraid to be honest in the things you say, whether that means speaking out about a product or situation that you’re not very happy with. Disagree but don’t be disagreeable, as my mom would say. Let yourself be heard, even if yours is not a popular opinion, because it’s only when you keep talking that you begin to recognize the sound of your own voice. (Not literally, of course. Duh.)
When you become more comfortable with making mistakes, that is when you can create truly great work. I mean that in every sense of what “truly great work” is: school projects, work reports, blog entries, and even Wiccan rituals. So go for it. Have fun. Make a mess. Just be sure to clean it up afterwards.
Talk to you soon,