Playing Nice With Others—And With Yourself by Callene Rapp

 

Until about a couple of years ago I pretty much existed in a writing vacuum.  I didn’t know hardly any other writers.  I hid anything I did write behind a ridiculous pseudonym and refused to put myself ‘out there’ for fear of ridicule and rejection.  But I finally realized that if I were going to actually write and get published, then that was going to be part of the game and I could either get in and play, or continue to ride the bench.

So I cautiously edged out of my comfort zone, took a few online classes, actually stopped using that fake name as my email address, and edged my way into the community of writers.

What do you know…no one sent me packing and told me to go back home where I belong!

I learned that the doubt, insecurity, fear and fragile optimism that I felt, nearly every single other writer I met experienced also, even the ones who had attained that Holy Grail of writing:  Successful Publication.

I also discovered that writers are some of the most compassionate, helpful, encouraging, wonderful people to be around, and will go out of their way to encourage a newbie, offer advice, a sympathetic ear, or anything a fledgling might need to feel good about what they are doing.

So why can we be so mean to ourselves?

I was having a conversation with a good friend a while back, in which I was apparently bashing myself up one side and down the other for some writing failure I had committed.  I thought I was just being honest, but my friend didn’t see it that way.

She told me if I didn’t quit knocking myself, she was going to hit me.

I didn’t.

She did.

Right on top of my ball cap, right on that little metal button. I saw stars for about a second, but she had my attention.  I heard myself for the first time.  I heard how much venom I spewed out about myself that I considered, in my own mind, just being honest.

Nasty stuff.

Stuff I would never expect to hear anyone say to me without getting my size 7 ropers in their keister, and stuff I would never ever ever say to anyone else.  Not even my worst enemy.

So why in the hell was I saying it to myself? 

Those little voices in our minds can be so insidious, and because we get so accustomed to hearing that negative loop we don’t even realize it until someone smacks us on top of the head.  They become part of the surroundings we take for granted, the wallpaper, the music in the background, the very air we breathe.

The critics would never get a chance to say anything negative to me.

I was poisoning myself, and defeating my own dream of being a writer before I even gave myself a chance.

Until someone smacked me on top of the head and made me listen to myself for a change.

And I imagine there is one or two of you out there that may be listening to a similar loop in your mind.

I can’t be there to smack you on top of the head, but I can challenge you to stop.  Listen.  And then say something kind to yourself about your writing, your progress, your goals, your dreams.  Talk to yourself like you would someone who needed a friend.

You deserve it.

And yes, that friend that smacked me on top of the head and I are still close.  I just watch what I say around her.  And myself.  I don’t wear my ball cap as much either.

 ~*~

Callene Rapp

 

16 comments

  1. Excellent post! I’m glad you have the kind of friend who’ll haul off and smack you when you need it. Hold onto that friend, they’re invaluable! And I’m glad you learned from it. 🙂 It’s a tough task we wannabee’s have taken on. It sounds like you’re developing the right attitude, though, so hang in there!!

  2. This is great – and it defines exactly why I began participating with RoW80 in the first place. One of my goals for the first round was to turn my own silly pseudonym into my real name in all of the places I had first put myself out there. I was pretty venomous to myself as well, and I still struggle with that a bit now and then, though the RoW80 community is helping me tame that. Great post!

    1. Good for you! It’s a shame we can’t learn self love in kindergarden, like letters and colors. It would make our adult lives much easier, wouldn’t it?

      Congrats on stepping out from behind the psuedonym as well. It feels a bit wierd at first, but you get used to it!

  3. Love the post. Unfortunately, my relationship with my friend came to a standstill and we’re no longer friends. Losing that friend helped me to realize what I was doing and I’ve now stopped. Thanks for your honesty.

    1. I’m sorry for your loss. It’s a shame your friendship ended, but it sounds like you have found an inner strength, which is priceless. Perhaps down the road you can re-kindle your friendship, but if not, you will value yourself and your new friends even more.

      Thank YOU for your honesty.

  4. Absolutely! Amen. Believing in yourself and your writing is a precursor to success. We can undermine ourselves or encourage ourselves with the messages we let play through our minds and our mouths. Great stuff, Callene.

    1. Thank you, Julie! It’s a shame it’s so tough to do, and I’m only learning to do it myself, but you are right, if we don’t believe in ourselves, no one else will!

  5. Thank you Callene for your post! I needed that! It was almost like hitting me in the head! lol

    But good point. We can be our worse enemy. And if we don’t start believing in ourselves first, then who will?🙂

    1. I’m glad, Karen! And I’m glad you didn’t get a smack in the head, at least not a real one!

      There are enough obstacles to our success, we don’t need to be one as well.

  6. Excellent post. I was everywhere in it–kept my initials but stopped the negative chatter–I am making some progress within the writing community and social media as well. It is as hard as you say but you say it so well.

    Thanks!
    Karen

  7. Loved your post. Thanks for the smack on the head, I needed it. Yes, we do need to pump ourselves, but it’s pretty nice to have ROW80 supporters who are willing to both give you a good shake and tell you you are doing great!

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