Writing authentically, or “It’s not for you”

“Unanimity is impossible unless you are willing to be invisible. We can be unanimous in our lack of feedback for the invisible one.” ~Seth Godin

Seth Godin wrote a post a few days ago called For the one person who didn’t get the joke. As is typical of his posts, this is a short, quick read that still makes a profound point. (Yes, that’s my encouragement to take a moment to go read it for yourself. It’s worth it!)

There will always be someone who does not appreciate each creative thing I may make. This is true of my writing, the jewelry I make, the things I crochet, the food I cook, the way I dress, my style in decorating. I can’t please everyone.

My approach all too often is to not create instead. Or to make the things I do create as bland as possible in an attempt to avoid causing offense (particularly in my writing!). I work hard at being invisible.

Invisible feels safe. I don’t much care for rejection (I don’t know anyone who does), but the thought of offending someone with my words is a deeply shaming thing to even think about for me. The possibility that I could hurt someone with my writing is physically painful to consider.

But invisibility is also lonely. I may never offend, but I will never contribute anything that could be of much value either.

So what is the answer?

Seth proposes that the appropriate way to deal with this truth is to embrace the ability to say “It’s not for you” to those who don’t like it, don’t get it, or otherwise don’t approve of it. There is great wisdom in that.

That is, of course, not license to go ahead and be as offensive as possible. (Not that there’s any danger in me doing that as averse as I am to even the thought!) It doesn’t even give me permission to not consider the impact of my words. I still need to be truthful, kind, and honorable in what I say.  There is still value in qualifying my statements at times to make it clear what I do and don’t mean and who I am and am not speaking about. (Sort of like this very paragraph is doing …)

But if I am ever to learn to speak my truth authentically and accurately, I need to give up this idea that I can do so without ever offending. I need to stop being invisible before I can do the work that I feel called to do. And that means learning to say to some people, “This isn’t for you.” It means learning to live with the knowledge that I can’t control everyone else’s reactions to me, nor can I ensure that there will never be negative reactions.

I’ve got a long way to go with this, but it’s clearly something I need to learn. I’ll start by practicing Seth’s “It’s not for you” phrase until I can say it and mean it.

A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.

2 thoughts on “Writing authentically, or “It’s not for you”

  1. What a bueatiful and heartfelt post. Most of us do not want to offend others as it is hurtful to us to think we have caused pain. However, we must also be true to ourselves and what we believe in or what value are we to others? I understand your point fully as it is a journey I too have been on. However, no one has the right to force their beliefs on us or to direct us to what we should or shouldn’t say. Be brave, emerge out of your cocoon and be the person you are meant to be. you will find many friends along the way who will support you and the unsupportive ones will fall away. I look forward to following your journey and supporting you along the way.

    • Thank you so much for the comment and all of the encouragement, Athena! I am so grateful for the support. It is indeed a journey to learn to value my own voice and my own truth as much as I do other people’s feelings and needs. It is a hard pattern to change after so many years.

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