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Shame Dogpile

Last week, I launched my Creating Daily project. And for those first seven days, I wrote for the audience I could see: myself. When I sent my first weekly digest email on Saturday night, that officially changed. What was once private, immediately became public. The curtain opened.

I found myself experiencing three distinct reactions.

First, I felt a deep sense of peace and pride as I breathed in the gratitude of having launched it. It felt (and feels) right. “This is what I’ve been meant to do all along.” It seems like a missing piece has slotted into place.

Second, I felt a deeply encouraging, fist-pumping yes as friends responded well to the personal themes I was exploring. They shared their own stories of parenting and anger, of joys with family, of writing projects, of dreams of heaven. After just two days, it’s incredible already: I’m finding honesty generates honesty, and stories beget stories.

Third, I also found myself experiencing a horrified, dizzying vertigo, as feedback arrived I didn’t expect, that was less harmonious.

Brené Brown talks about the “vulnerability hangover” she experienced after her first TEDx talk. I like that phrase. I can identify with the sense of a full-body, pulsing wave of “What have I done?” come over me.

I care about people. I care what you think. And yet for so long in my life, I’ve let fear of what others think keep me from moving forward with things like public writing projects. The moment a negative reaction hits, I turtle. I’d sooner not share, in order to avoid the terror.

When I received that surprising feedback, my first instinct was to delete the blog, cancel the project, and disappear forever. As they say, better suppressed-safely-down-into-the-depths-of-my-being than sorry.

And yet. I know the purpose with which I started this project, and I already see the distinctly beautiful fruit. I don’t want to let that fear cause me to back down from this project.

Instead, I want to learn to get used to a new operating.

I will listen well to new stories and perspectives, and allow myself to be changed. I will seek counsel, take advice, heed insight and pay attention. Wisdom from others is a gift.

I choose to write based on my own sense of direction, not a sense of guessing or mind-reading about anticipated reactions. I choose to develop resilience in the face of challenge, and move forward humbly even when I make mistakes. I choose to use my gifts anyway — even if it doesn’t always land well.

I acknowledge that reactions will come from perspectives that are different from mine — I will let that influence me appropriately, but not let it overtake me.  I will not let those diverging opinions stack up on me like a shame-dogpile.

…at least, those are my intentions.

Thank you to each of you whose comments and stories and emails and texts have communicated that threads I’ve shared already have reached you. It means a lot.

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