“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.
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