Marianne Williamson in Return to Love: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us…your playing small doesn’t serve the world. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
It was Christmas and my third-grade class had drawn names for Secret Santa. I pulled Nancy Walker and was delighted—there were so many things I admired about her! I begged Mom to take me shopping for her gift immediately, and I chose a small doll that even resembled her. I designed a special outfit for the doll and Mom, quite the seamstress, sewed it for me. I dressed the doll in the special ensemble and placed her in a carefully wrapped box. I was certain Nancy would love her!
The day of the Secret Santa reveal finally came. I received a pretty, small cloth purse with a candy bar tucked inside. Nancy opened the doll and smiled at me. I knew she’d like it!
By the time library period came, my stomach was aching from the several snowflake cookies I had eaten at the party. I ran to the bathroom, sat in the stall clutching my stomach, my saddle oxford shoes not touching the floor.
The door swung open and I heard footsteps, then Nancy’s voice: “At least you got something good! All I got was that stupid doll Susie gave me. I’m throwing it away as soon as I get home.”
My eyes watered. “How could I have been so dumb?” I sat in the stall until they were gone, wiping my eyes. Trying to convince myself I didn’t care—that it didn’t matter what she thought.
This story is true, and has stuck with me to this day. It seems ridiculous, doesn’t it? Yet I have to wonder if it laid groundwork for future fears of: am I somehow missing the mark?
In 2013, Prodigal Magazine published a story I wrote. To my surprise, it went viral with over one million views and these stats:
Facebook: 721,000 shares
Twitter: 2,500 shares
Google+: 234 shares
Pinterest: 1,127 shares
Email: 644 shares
It prompted my then literary agent to write a piece on tracking trends. My Facebook and Twitter blew up with messages as it circled the globe, reestablishing connections with people I’d lost touch with years ago.
Happy? Umm…sort of.
Until I read the Comments—all 802 of them—and these were the ones the magazine moderator didn’t consider mandatory deletions. Most were kind—but there were some that were nasty and hateful, and others threatening. These the magazine moderators worked desperately to remove. My husband signed on with an alias to “monitor” a woman who was personally threatening me because she thought I was deleting her Comments: “Bitch, I’ll hunt you down!” … and worse. I wrote a blanket reply stating only the magazine had authority to delete a comment. But she kept coming at me and I finally retreated, “I can’t read them anymore. Can you just monitor this, and let me know if we need to contact the police?”
How could a story about empathy and grace cause such a reaction?
WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY, AND HE IS US. –Pogo
My tiny crack at fame exposed my fear, and it stunned me more than a little. As an introvert and perfectionist (both major ugggghs) it shouldn’t have surprised me that I felt violated both personally and professionally. And why was it I couldn’t remember any of the over 750 nice comments, but could recall with precision the two dozen nasty ones?
I’m not alone. Oil painter Randy Blasquez talks about when her passion for painting “got real”—she landed a prestigious gallery show in Carmel, her work began to sell and people commissioned pieces. “This felt like the curse of death,” she said. “Suddenly I was under pressure, and felt a bit judged.” She eventually pulled out of the gallery and regrouped. Today, she has a completely different perspective on her work: “I just try to show up and stay out of the results.” The results are pretty fabulous, as you can see here.
View more of Randy’s work HERE.
FEAR IS THE DARKROOM WHERE THE DEVIL DEVELOPS HIS NEGATIVES-
There are fear demons living inside every one of us. What would you do if you weren’t afraid of failure? Of success? Of giving 100% of yourself to your relationship? Of taking the big risk? Of stepping off the highest precipice and doing that thing you believe with all your heart you are called to do?
The world is rife with trolls and fake friends who thrive on negativity. The transformation necessary to propel us forward happens once we realize it’s a waste of time to evaluate our worth by other persons’ reactions—be it negative or positive! David Bayles in Art & Fear says, “The only pure communication is between you and your work.”
Show up and do your best work.
Try to stay out of the results.
Know that I’ll be rooting for you every step of the way.
All good things,
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