There have been days in my career when I’m so self-conscious, I can’t even get to my desk to check my emails. I’m too terrified that there’s a message ripping me or my work apart (it’s never happened) and I can’t check my social media pages or messages for the same reasons.
I’ve pushed off starting projects that I really believe in (such as Cockroach) out of fear of what other people are going to think.
Outwardly, I tell others that if you’re not hated by someone, you’re probably living life wrong.
Inside, I just want everyone to like me. I really want everyone to like me.
But that’s not realistic. Especially when you’re doing public creative work. The best anyone can do is go in with good intentions and respect. Do research, be curious, open yourself to criticism. And there probably will be criticism. Most of it will be kind and well-intentioned. Some will be awful and mean-spirited, but not much.
What’s the worst case scenario reaction of people if you put out something you really believe in? Everyone might hate it and then hate you. The chances of that happening? Slim to none. A bad case scenario is that people don’t really like it. Well, that’s great! You can walk away from that experience learning something. You have the opportunity to act with grace, earning respect from the folks who maybe didn’t quite get your vision. And then you can take the skills and insights gained to the next project. And the next. And the next.
Everyone has flops and failures. I’ve had plenty with Cockroach. You won’t see evidence of this, but I’ve hosted events that no one came to. I’ve hosted events that had two witnesses in attendance to see the complete fail. And I’ve run events that hundreds of people attended. As embarrassing as the crap events were, I learned a lot about promotion and event planning from them, so that’s a win for me. If I’d given up, Winnipeg’s Vegan Handmade Market wouldn’t exist.
Think about your biggest failure. What did you learn from it? Are you really willing to risk losing potential future learning experiences out of fear of judgement? I hope not.