It can be challenging to put ourselves out there. Every day, I sit and I stare at my computer for an extended period of time and I type and delete and type again. Someday’s I go for it and I post my thoughts out here on the world wide web. Other day’s I leave the words here in a desert of blank white space and let them sit amongst themselves to wait for my inspirations to return. Honestly, I get so caught up in the idea that you may not like what I have to say. That whoever is reading this right now may think that what I’m talking about is too forward, not enough, too blunt, or just too much. “I’m too much,” is something that I tell myself a lot if I’m being honest. But why have this fear? Where does it come from? And how can we overcome it?
I think a great deal of us, in my generation especially (shout out to Millenials! We’re the best lol everything is hard), are so wrapped up in likes and comments and positive feedback, that a lot of the time we lose ourselves and our voices in the madness. When I have an idea that comes to me, like this one, I will wait for ages to share it because I don’t have the perfect picture (Yet! I will get the perfect picture!), or the words don’t seem right, or I don’t feel like anyone will care. But why!? This lesson could be so valuable to someone out there, but in my mind, if I don’t get all 800 odd number of my followers to engage in my post in some way, then somehow it becomes unworthy of even one view at all. And doesn’t that mean that I may be taking something away from one person? Or maybe two if I’m including myself?
Recently I posted a photo from my trip to Iceland. It is one of my favorite photos, one that I have been saving in my arsenal of back up wonders for the exact moment I have an inspiring idea but I have no picture (I told you I have the perfect picture!) I typed out fire from my fingertips and I filtered my perfect picture and I sent it out into the world and I waited to see what you had to say. It started off slow, and it stayed slow. The photo got 55 likes, a personal low for me. I was bummed, this was a favorite picture of mine and I “wasted,” it on this?! Should I delete it? No one even read it … they won’t notice, right? I became so caught up in the idea of you, in the madness behind the scheming and growing that it takes to be successful on this platform. In order to become great, I need to be seen, and if I’m not being seen doesn’t that mean that what I’m saying isn’t great? But then something wonderful happened.
A dear friend of mine from home gave me a true gift of insight. But truthfully, a friend is not the right word. This woman is family to me. I grew up next door to her, I have learned from her and been loved by her, her children and I played and laughed together summer after summer, tearing through her house for snacks, waiting for the next family party … God, I love Italians. I am so grateful for her wisdom and her talents as an artist, and her support of my journey has meant more to me then she may know. It was her comment in this moment that opened my eyes to the much larger picture that I was missing up until this moment.
Mrs. Cindy told me that she would share my post with her girls, with her young daughters who are coming of age right now. As we speak these girls I babysat once upon a time are blossoming into young women, and they are seeking what I have been seeking all along, although ever elusive it may be. When she told me that she was going to share this piece with her daughters, suddenly nothing else mattered. All the likes in the world could not equate to the feeling I had when I realized that if three women that I love and admire dearly gained even the smallest something from what I had shared, then it was worth it. I’m realizing that I’m not here for your likes, I don’t care how many followers I have or how many comments my posts get. When one person reaches out to me and tells me that my words empowered, inspired, moved, changed, or supported, then all this work is for something. One person being positively affected in some way, whether I hear about it or not, is what I am here to do. And I will say bashfully that I may have lost sight of that for a time, but I am back now.
We can’t attribute our self-worth or the worth of our work and passions to how many people tell us they love it. Odds are, people out there are hearing you and smiling and not even telling you, and I want those people to know that I’m here for them as well. When we take a moment to realize that what we have to say is valuable, that the photos we take are worthy, and that our ideas are special no matter what, it removes so much pressure from what we are trying to do. Hit share, do the bold thing, put yourself out there and remember that the mere act of baring it all to the world alone is your greatest achievement yet. Instagram does not make you special, you are enough as you are. I am learning this today and every day, and with each passing moment as the pressure sheds off my shoulders I am finding my voice coming through louder than ever before. Thank you, Mrs. Cindy, for helping me see what I had forgotten. I promise not to forget again.