Insecurity and Introspection

People often ask me, “Hey TML, how do you cope with the crippling anxiety and self-doubt that comes with no one reading your work?”  Well, the answer is simple:

Not very well.

Well… alright.  I guess I’m being melodramatic again.  To be honest, it doesn’t actually bother me THAT MUCH.  Sure, it can be disappointing to have something you put your blood, sweat, tears, and other such bodily fluids into be completely ignored, but really, it’s not THAT big of a deal.  I mean, does it fill me with feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing?  Sure, you could say that.  Does it remind me time and time again that I will never be as good as any of the other writers and authors out there?  Yeah, a little bit.  But generally speaking, is it that bad?

Yeah, pretty much.

Or at least it used to be.  Back when I still had Facebook and was a normal, socially connected individual, I used to suffer from a lot of self-doubt.  There was a lot of pressure to get likes, to be funny and witty and meet a certain social quota.  Most of this was my whole issue with needing people to validate my value, to reassure me that I wasn’t the sack of shit I was so sure I was.  I mean, let’s face it: insecure people thirst for security.  And there’s nothing wrong with receiving validation from other people.  What’s wrong is when this validation is false; when it’s hollow and short-lived.  Sure, it feels good for a moment.  But deep down inside we know that it’s fake and meaningless, and it only deepens our appetite.

And when social media came along and concentrated security into a fast and easily deployed set of pixels, it became that much easier to feed the beast.  It’s crazy how something as simple as seeing a thumbs-up icon appear on the bottom of one of your posts can become so addicting.  That rush you get when someone legitimizes your thoughts, your feelings, is a dangerous thing.

Relying on other people to satiate your self-value is not okay.  To depend on other people, strangers even, to validate your work and your effort is to resign yourself to a life of permanent vulnerability at best and crippling insecurity at worst.  Happiness needs to come from inside, not outside.  Because you can never rely on the outside to deliver.

Needless to say I was never a particularly popular person.  But my unpopularity taught me something incredibly important, something I would keep close to me for the rest of my life: people are idiots.  People will step all over you and kick you while your down.  They will spit on you and they will mock you, and worse, they’ll turn their backs to you.  You cannot change that.  All you can do is enjoy what you do.  Do it for you.  Fuck the critics and the disinterested masses, and fuck the feeling that their opinions should ever matter to you.  Do what you love because you love it, not because anyone else should.

Like your own work, even if no one else does.

When you post that post you worked so hard on, you should immediately feel a sense of relief and pride.  Hold onto that feeling.  Take it and run.  Close the window, shut your laptop, and leave.  Read a book, or go for a walk, or watch television.  Do not harp over the likes and comments that may or may not be coming in.  Do not stress over whether or not people like it.  If you liked it, that’s enough.

So does it bother me, when people don’t like a post?  Sure, a little bit.  But then I ask myself: did I like it?  And if the answer is yes, I’m happy.

And that’s all I need.

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5 thoughts on “Insecurity and Introspection

  1. I feel just the same. I know I shouldn’t be bothered whether my work is liked by others or not, and it genuinely is not the reason I do it. But it still feels like a bit of a kick in the teeth when I share something I’m passionate about and have spent a lot of time on and get no interest whatsoever, especially from my friends.

    I don’t know whether this post was particularly about the short story you shared earlier in the week, but it’s in my inbox with a star next to it to remind me to read it properly. It’s a fair bit longer than most things I come across on wordpress so I wanted to give it the time and attention it deserves. I’m looking forward to it though, and I’ll be sure to let you know what I think.

    Keep at it, if its your true path it will all be worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Can’t say I have this problem myself *cries* but I can see how that could be annoying. As if you do it for the “likes” or the followers, and not for the writing itself. It’s like an involuntary and immediate reaction, rather than something that comes from a place of sincere admiration.

        Like

    1. Reading this made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Yeah, it’s a perfectly natural reaction to being ignored. Humans are social creatures, after all, and to feel the sting of isolation is wired into us. To think that we can completely cut it out is pure fantasy; believe me, I’ve tried. The only way to combat it is through hard thought and a serious reevaluation of prioritization. You have to bring yourself to realize that your opinion of yourself has to matter more than anyone else’s. I mean of course there’s always constructive criticism and whatnot, but there’s a difference between knowing there’s room for improvement and hating yourself and your work because no one else liked it.

      Yeah, part of it was the story; it dredged up some old feelings, and I felt I should deal with them rather than leaving them to fester into psychoses at the back of my mind like I used to. But it was about reinstating my resolution, not harping over the issue or guilt-tripping people. I probably (definitely) came off as kind of bitter, but that was just the cynic talking. I can honestly say it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to.
      That being said, hearing that you are planning on reading it means a lot. It may not feel bad having no one read your work, but it certainly feels great when someone does.
      Thanks for that; you just made my day.

      Liked by 1 person

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