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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it.

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Friday
Jan292010

A few words about fear

Now that I’m committing to writing more on my blog, I’ve been thinking a lot about fear. Fear! BOO!

Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. Come back!

I really believed, before this, that I wasn’t able to post as much as I wanted because I didn’t have the time. But that wasn’t it at all. Because really? I didn’t have the guts.

It’s hard to put yourself out there. Some days it’s harder than others, of course, but there’s always a risk that you’re going to get a negative reaction to what you’ve written. You can’t anticipate what will set some stranger off on a tear about how much you suck. It doesn’t get easier, either; once you get some experience under your belt, you start to anticipate the reactions to whatever it is you’re writing. You imagine the people who aren’t that into you reading it and smirking. They’re like your Inner Critic come to life—a whole Greek chorus of voices telling the world how overrated you are. And then you stop yourself from writing, or you tell yourself you need more time, more inspiration, more something. That’s letting fear win, and by winning, it gets stronger, and the feeling snowballs. Pretty soon you’re also imagining all the people who think you suck because you don’t post enough. And then you’ve locked yourself in a closet and you’re wearing tissue boxes for shoes. It’s not healthy, kids.

I’m not bringing all this up just to talk about me, although THE INNER WORKINGS OF MY MIND ARE FASCINATING. This fear comes up all the time, for anyone being creative. I’ve seen people get paralyzed with fear after they’ve encountered public criticism of their work. I’m sure you’ve seen it as well. I’ve received emails from people who want to die of shame because someone wrote to them to tell them they suck, or posted a comment to the same effect.

Sometimes the comments people get are laughable. I’ve seen commenters who criticize a writer’s typo, or a picture of them, or arrive on a site with no prior knowledge of the blog at all so they can leap to all kinds of inaccurate conclusions. Some people are nuts, and unfortunately, some people who are nuts can also work a computer.

And yet writers can be devastated by this stuff, even when they themselves realize how silly the actual comment was. It can make them feel small and stupid. Because on some level they believe they’re not good enough, and now they feel like they’ve just been outed. Like they’re not worthy of love, and worse, they were stupid to want it.

Let me just say it: we all want to be loved. It’s okay to write because you want to be loved. That is completely okay. That is, in fact, an excellent reason to write. And if you feel terrible because of a mean thing someone wrote, that’s also okay.

Here’s a statement that deserves a separate paragraph: if no one dislikes you, you’re not doing it right. If you get mean comments, or read something critical of your work, it means people have an opinion about you. And that’s essential. Good job.

You can’t write something meaningful, you can’t create art—and let’s just call this art, okay? I think we can—unless you are willing to be yourself. Yourself, with all your quirks. And you can't be yourself without some people disliking you. It’s not possible. Pick a celebrity you think is absolutely above reproach, and then Google him, and read all about the people who think he’s the worst. Stephen Colbert, Anne Lamott, David Sedaris. There are people who hate them! How crazy is that? (Maybe not crazy to you, but to me, certainly.)

But those people don’t matter. They’ll move on. When you are intensely yourself, with all your quirks--and look, we all have them, no matter how normal you think you are—and you can create something, whatever it is, that expresses that, you're speaking to someone else's quirks. And the thing is, everyone thinks they're weird and unlovable, at some level. So when you speak to that part of someone, they open up. They feel better. They bloom a little. You've just changed someone else. Think about that. Five other people might not get it, but so what? A hundred people might think you suck, but you’ve just helped one person have a better day, and how incredible is that?

The only thing we can do in the end is be brave. No one can escape being disliked, and no one can escape being loved. Go for it.

Reader Comments (163)

I really liked the part about being yourself- with all the quirks.:-)

Nice article, I've started my own blog and it's nice to read blogs like this. They motivate me and inspire me to keep going.

Thanks!~MuseGirlwww.musingmyself.com
February 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMuseGirl
This is so true. For me I know I write a lot of crap and I am amazed that people read it...like in shock. But they all seem to like it so I guess I am doing it wrong..hee hee. Except for the Tranny spammers who tell me my shemale post while not thoroughly accurate was pretty awesome. (I have never written a shemale post)
February 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterA Vapid Blonde
Amen, sister!I found this blog via your January Redbook article and I am proud to say that I have finally finished reading all of your archives and am now caught up to the present day. I love your writing, and I share a lot of the same anxieties and fears, although have no kids so I can't relate there. You have a new reader over here for sure!
February 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAngela
I'm sorry you get mean criticism. I really enjoy your blogging/writing. So, try to be like Nike (I think?)-- No Fear!
February 7, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterblondie
Wow, you sure are on the money with this one. Glad you are developing a thicker skin, Alice. I have lots of EXCUSES for not writing more, but the real REASON is what you said.
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLinda
This post came at the right time - though I'm a little late reading it, admittedly. I haven't written anything on my blog in who knows how long for very similar reasons.

Being a new blogger, I'm still ecstatic yet very uncomfortable at the fact that people close to me are reading my thoughts. So when I really want to write about how depressed I am, I'll instead write about, oh, I don't know... shopping.

This is a drawn out comment and more like a stream of consciousness for myself. Long story short: thank you for putting yourself out there.
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKelsey
I hope you don't mind but I referenced your post here in one of mine yesterday. Solidarity! Yes! I agree with your assessment of things here, and see myself reflected.

Thanks, Alice.
February 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTherese
Indifference is much worse than criticism.

I'd much rather have people hate it than not care about it.

A hatred filled comment is better than no comment at all. (Which is why I sometimes have trouble deleting my spam...)
February 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLife in the Highlands
Love this post! Like so many other comments already stated, I need to hear it!
February 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEmily
you are loved :)I am a lurker, I don't comment often and I don't have my own blog. I have the fear. I'm trying to sort it out, and you're helping. One comment at a time.
February 16, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjane
Thank you for writing this. It was precisely what I needed to hear. Thank you. You are swell.
February 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaCarnorvista
Nice, very nice! Enjoyed this. = )
March 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJanine

My pc is Windows seven (NOT Windows Vista, there is a difference!). I already have Microsoft Workplace 2007, but I heard that Office 2010 came out. I was just curious to know if it absolutely was really worth upgrading from Office 2010 Sale to Office Enterprise 2007. Is there any new adjustments to Office 2010? Does Workplace 2010 possess the Workplace button (from Windows 7 Key)? What could be much better for me to do?

April 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarltonWO

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