Putting yourself out there in our modern society is a truly terrifying and eye-opening experience. I recently published my very first article of my writing career.
In hindsight, I could have chosen a more neutral, less controversial topic to make my debut, but what would the fun be in that?
Negative social media comments instantly poured in and I began to brace myself for the onslaught. It ended up being the best thing that could have happened to a rookie writer.
Here is my developmental process since that sorry Tuesday morning:
Exceedingly overwhelming emotions
Within the first 30 seconds of comprehending the article release, I experienced shock, bliss, fulfillment, anticipation (as my comments loaded), more shock, a significant drop in bliss, rejection and then an extended period of pure adrenalin.
I had to figure out how to handle my reaction and fast -- either let it get to me, or embrace the small bout of success.
I allowed myself a brief moment of commiseration before the realization that this was just something I had to get used to if I wanted to make a career in writing, which leads me to my next phase:
Attempt to not care about what people think
I say "attempt" because I don’t believe this is achievable. I know there will be many moments in the future when I will find myself amidst complete humiliation, and I won’t be able to repress the shame of being rejected.
However, since being thoroughly, brutally and widely discredited, I felt instantly unrestricted in expressing myself. I mean, how much worse could it get?
I admit, I have always struggled with the idea that people won’t accept me for who I am. I embraced this opportunity as a personal test to become less self-conscious; it was a skill I knew I had to master in order to succeed.
Resist the lure of social media
I found myself monitoring my likes and comments and realizing I still do, in fact, care about what people think.
One of my greatest conflicts with this generation is the increasing encouragement to get people to “like” you. I mean, you can now express your affection with a click on a screen to quantify your likeability.
It was during this social media outburst that I remembered how much I despised that goddamn “like” button and what it did to me. Sadly, a large part of enhancing your image as a writer involves promoting yourself on social media.
But, at what point do we separate ourselves from the screen in front of us and remind ourselves that we have people in our lives who love us unconditionally, regardless the number of followers we’ve collected?
Someone actually said they wanted to make a “dislike” button to apply to my article. Can’t you just call me a slut, like the other 500 people? Quantifying hate can only aid cyber bullying.
I since devised a mantra for myself when I feel consumed by the desire for more likes: They’re just likes, they’re not LOVE.
There will always be that one idiot (or, in my case, 1000)
You can think you’ve written the next Harry Potter — maybe you have —, but there will always, always be someone there to tell you it was garbage. Unfortunately, there are now even more ways to ensure you receive everyone’s passionate comments, and nowadays, it’s mostly delivered digitally.
We’ve gotten a lot meaner since we developed the ability to cover our faces while we speak. Although, I admit I would have cried if you all came up to me at once and released the abuse to my face.
So, I suppose I have to thank you for allowing me to hide my tears. Yet, if you feel the urge to contribute to others’ work, ask yourself if it’s you or the anonymous keyboard talking.
Recognize your errors
After sifting through the mecca of dirty comments, I came to realize there were many things I wrote foolishly, with only my opinion in mind. I got carried away with my wild views on the universe and forgot I needed to justify myself.
I still believe what I wrote, and I will never take it back, but I was reckless on many points. The euphoria of having permission to write for the first time can sometimes cloud your thoughts on content.
I just wanted to write something! And, I’m so happy it did because it led me to my final revelation as a novice writer.
You are not invincible
The sun does not shine out of your ass. You will not write perfectly all of the time. You will never be perfect, and that’s okay.
I’d like to thank the few thousand people who decided to dislike me. I now have a much stronger idea of what it takes to be a successful writer, plus a few less people in the world to bother impressing. Wait, that’s right -- I decided not to worry about that anymore.
And, finally, to all those who encouraged my abstract view on monogamy, you may have been outnumbered, but you gave me hope that I was not a “stupid, naïve failure of a person.”
So, my point (as apparently I did not have one in my last article), is if you truly want to be a writer or an entertainer or anything that holds the potential to be judged, a bad review can be the best thing that can ever happen to you, if you let it.
For now, though, I’ll stick to fiction. How much can you hate something that isn’t real, anyway? I guess I’ll find out soon.