In the Arena

This isn’t my first attempt at blogging. I’ve had many, many false starts. One of the reasons I’ve failed in the past is from fear of putting my creative product out in the world for judgment by others. That is still terrifying, and something I have to overcome with every post. I can hardly bear to promote it on social media. I can’t help but translate potential judgment of my writing to judgment of me. In theory, I know that’s irrational. But I’ve never claimed to be particularly rational about these sorts of things.

It’s been three weeks of writing and posting nearly every day, and I can’t say it has gotten much easier. In fact, I can’t even take that much credit for being this consistent for this long. I’m sure I would have come up with an excellent excuse by now for not writing every day or not posting every day if left to my own devices. Every reluctant creative needs at least one person in their life who refuses to listen to excuses and holds them to task to reach their full potential. I’m extraordinarily lucky to have one of those people. So I write and post (mostly) every day even when it’s hard and scary.

In conversation yesterday we discussed the topic of “trolls.” This isn’t a problem I have to deal with at the moment, but my blog hasn’t exactly gone viral yet. I mentioned that I had heard the following quote,* which I was desperately trying to internalize from Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 “Man in the Arena” speech:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; … who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

We agreed that worrying about what other people think, for the most part, isn’t worth my energy. Especially when those people criticize from safe and comfortable places. I wondered about a hypothetical future in which my work gets criticized by someone “in the arena.” He responded, and I’m paraphrasing slightly, “That would be great! We’ll celebrate that day, because it means you will have gotten the attention of someone who matters.”

Gulp. Cheers to that!

*From Rising Strong by Brené Brown.

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