This is one of those blog pieces I need to write to get rid of some intense feelings. I'm not sure if I'll be able to express this as I wish to, but I must try, even if I don't hit a bull's eye. Please forgive me if I fall short.
I'm so tied up in knots that my tremor is making it difficult for me to use my hands. Earlier I nearly had to sit on my hands to keep from slapping myself in the face unintentionally. (I have what's known as an essential tremor, which simply means I shake sometimes, but it's not caused by any diagnosed medical problem. It's something that runs in the family on my mom's side and is often mistaken for Parkinson's when it's bad. It's something I first noticed in myself about 1980 when I was working for DHS and had a client who was trying to scam me. I started shaking so hard while trying to take notes that I couldn't read my own writing. It flares up when emotions run high. Typing usually isn't a problem, but when this starts, I might as well just forget about holding a pencil or pen. That's one of the key reasons I use my Palm Pilot with a folding keyboard for most of my note-taking on assignments, or I type directly into my computer when doing phone interviews. Sorry for the long explanation, but I thought it might be relevant. I don't know.)
Anyway, back to the original thoughts. I think I've calmed down enough that I can write this without having to use words like @#*$#@!( and @%#*$*$$! to avoid offending my friends who are sensitive to bad language.
I think those of you who read this blog, at least the ones I am aware of, are in creative fields or have serious creative pursuits of some sort. Most of us are writers, which automatically makes us attention "hounds" (not the word I would have used before. I edited.)
We write because we believe we have something to share with the world. And we want (need) to know if we're hitting the mark and making a difference in the world. The only way we know is if we get feedback, right? We blog because the very medium of blogging invites response of some sort. We hope and pray for applause of sorts -- some kind word such as "WOW! That's profound." Or "Hey, that didn't stink!" Or "Thanks for posting that - you gave me something to think about."
There are even days when we'd be happy to hear "Are you out of your @#*$U mind?" "Are you @#$* crazy???" or "You be nutz." You get the idea. Even negative attention is attention, right? At least someone was reading, and they were moved enough to comment and let you know how much they hate you.
I don't think the need for feedback is limited to those of us who write. There are many disciplines where it's more than nice, it's necessary. I think feedback is in the same category as encouragement. We ALL NEED IT. Children often get it from their parents or teachers. As we start careers we get it from mentors and superiors (if we are lucky.) Other times, we just work for asses. (Sorry, that one slipped through. There's such a long list.)
Honestly, I don't think it's expecting too much to want to get some encouragement and an occasional kind word from those in our lives. We weren't built to be solitary automatons -- we ARE people, and as such we have needs for validation, belonging, affirmation, encouragement, appreciation and reward.
The cruelest action we can take against another, aside from physical abuse, is to ignore them. To pretend they don't exist, or they don't have a talent, or they have no right to participate. How much more succinctly can we make it clear to someone else that we don't value them?
An example: You meet someone, have a few conversations, then perhaps a first date. The first date is sufficient as far as one party is concerned. So, the second party inquires about future dates. What does the first person say? "Sorry, I'm busy that night. And that one. And that one." Maybe it seems less cruel than simply saying "Thanks, but I don't see this going anywhere." But what are we doing but letting that person know they have no place in our lives and we don't care how they feel?
It's also a lot like being the only kid in the class that isn't invited to the popular kid's birthday party, and yet the invitations are handed out during class, so everyone knows you are not worthy. (I have actually had this exact thing happen in a work setting. Worse yet, the "hostess" made a point of telling me, at lunch, in front of everyone else, that I wasn't invited because they would be having a pool party at her house and everyone knew I got sunburned very easily. You know. We wouldn't want you to be uncomfortable while we're all having a good time. That would be such a downer.)
There's a new book called "Shine: A Powerful 4-Step Plan for Becoming a Star in Anything You Do." It's written by Larry A. Thompson. I picked it up tonight after reading reviews and seeing a mention on TV. The inside of the jacket outlines the steps: 1) Identify your talent. 2) Summon your rage. 3) Assemble a team and 4) Learn to be lucky.
We all have natural gifts (point 1). And we need supporters, including mentors, professionals, role models, motivators (point 3). And I do believe I've found my rage. Hence the shaking tonight. Now comes figuring out a game plan and assembling the "team".
Before anyone makes the mistake of thinking that I'm talking about my current working situation, I'm not. I'm very happy with the work I do, although I will need to make some changes shortly to make more money. It's a simple fact of economics and not a sign of any discontent on that front. But "work" is not what this is about.
This is something I think we all need to think about as we deal with others. We're all in the same boat as far as needing encouragement and as far as being able to offer it to others.
If you want to destroy someone's personal passion, never offer encouragement. Never acknowledge that the person has skills and talents. Make sure you create a setting which denies them any opportunity to use their talents, if you have the power. At some point, if you're really good at this, the person will either become suicidal or so depressed that they'll stop trying. Or they will love themselves enough to leave the situation and go someplace where they can be who they were created to be.
Sometimes I think it would be wonderful if we were built in such a way that we didn't need support from others. I know it would make my life a lot easier, since support is not something that I have a big supply of. But I think that would also be a very cold, empty life too, if we were simply content to be "units" instead of being part of one body.
So here's my challenge to you. If you know someone who needs to hear a kind word, speak it. If someone needs to have a creative outlet, offer it. If someone needs a mentor, be one. If someone needs support, give it.
We'll all be richer for it as we become the people we were made to be.