I am a writer. I should write daily. I should write without restraint. I should say what I want to say without some people-pleasing inner troll telling me to watch out – that I might offend somebody or that I might piss somebody off. After all, isn’t good writing meant to elicit an emotional response?
As writers, our goal is not to deliver a lukewarm version of what we intended to say.
Author Seth Godin put it this way in a 2006 blog post:
“Great stories are rarely aimed at everyone. Average people are good at ignoring you. Average people have too many different points of view about life and average people are by and large satisfied. If you need to water down your story to appeal to everyone, it will appeal to no one. The most effective stories match the world view of a tiny audience—and then that tiny audience spreads the story.”
Godin has written extensively about the importance of finding one’s tribe, and that concept makes sense to me. The right people will gravitate to your message. The substance of what we have to say will resonate with some, and that some is enough.
It’s like the old Faberge Organics shampoo commercial. One person tries it. They’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on…
I have been a people pleaser, and that has not worked for my emotional well-being. I have learned over the years that this phenomenon stems from deeper self-worth issues, and I need to get to the bottom of that. Where the hell did these issues come from? It would be easy – and intellectually lazy – to blame somebody else for this. Was my mother the culprit? If I were to point fingers, I’d be sure to include those misguided phys-ed teachers who, brimming with toxic masculinity, failed to see that not all boys were the same.
Over time, I have learned to say “no” more often. It’s pretty liberating, and I need to do more of that.
How about the bullies?
I didn’t suffer much at the hands of bullies, but not all kids get beaten up physically – and I am very good at beating myself up.
Now nearly six years sober, I always thought that I intentionally started using drugs and alcohol because it was simply what aspiring rockers did. But something happened somewhere, and I intend to find out what it was.