I told you I was reading a book by Brene Brown called The Gifts of Imperfection, which is a nice title. It’s about needing to be vulnerable in order to live a satisfying life. Basically.
I was reading a chapter that was more or less about creativity. I started to think about my writing, or even just the fact that this is the only writing I do. I don’t know how to explain this, but I write more or less for survival. I am trying to make sense of my own mind. That’s all.
I am not criticizing myself. That’s not the point of this.
But I did think when I write I risk having nothing of interest to say. Every time I take that risk of writing and publishing something of interest to me, I risk discovering that what interests me holds no interest to anyone else. I risk being alone with my thoughts and my experience, and I risk it in a way that feels permanent to me, because that’s the default I am starting with. I start with, “I am not of interest to anyone,” and I gently reach out with the hope that my default position is mistaken. When I am not of interest, I revert to the default.
I don’t know how to say this either, but if I don’t reach out and try to get connection, I can remain in a place of uncertainty and ultimately of hope. When I try, I risk knowing something I might not want to know.
Most of the self-help ideas out there that have lingered on in my mind have to do with avoiding ever needing to confront that.
If I hold onto the belief that my ideas are interesting and people will be interested in them, because they are “good” ideas, I never have to confront the possibility that they could still be boring–no matter how good I think they are.
If I hold onto the idea that I am “worthy” and people will care about me because I am “good,” I never have to risk not being cared about.
I never have to be vulnerable. I never have to risk being boring, unlikeable, unwanted or uncool. I never have to grapple with the potential for disappointment or loss.
I think the reality is every time we try something new, care about someone, or trust, we risk disappointment and loss. And I also think that’s okay. It’s okay to have feelings, even negative feelings, and the only way to be whole is to be able to accept those feelings. It doesn’t need to be okay with someone else for me to experience loss or disappointment or shame. It needs to be okay with me.
I think the reality is that every time I care about someone, I risk not being cared about in return. Every time I bond with someone, I risk losing them to distance or death or disinterest. I have to be able to cope with that–not insulate myself against the possibility of loss by believing life is certain and I am always loveable.
I am not always loveable. Sometimes I have bad breath. Sometimes I stress sweat. Sometimes my outfit is a fashion don’t. Sometimes I say idiot things. Sometimes I am clumsy, thoughtless, and inconsiderate. The days when I was cute no matter what I did are long past.
That needs to be okay with me.
If I spend my life trying to insulate myself against the possibility of loss, I am either trapped into people-pleasing or an off-putting narcissism that counter-intuitively drives people away.
I can’t live like that.