Ever since I published my book I occasionally check Amazon or Goodreads to see what people are saying about it. It’s been such an incredible boost for me (especially as I fight my way through writing the sequel) to see the lovely things readers are saying. I’ve been driven to tears more than once by some sweet fan explaining exactly why they loved my characters, and all the while I’m thinking YES, that is exactly what I hoped you’d see in her! I’ve lived in this dream world for months but then suddenly, it ended. I got my first bad review.
It’s hard to explain exactly how it felt to see someone give my work 2 stars… but I liken it to being punched in the stomach, then the face… then the stomach again. I read the comments and then read them again. My people-pleasing obsessive brain considered commenting and trying to get her to understand my intentions with the work or becoming her friend, because surely then she wouldn’t have disliked it quite so much. I felt sick to my stomach. I wondered if maybe she was right… maybe everyone else was too easy on the work, maybe this one person was a better judge and I was, in fact, a terrible writer. I was spiraling… then I heard that little voice in my head. No, not God or Jiminy Cricket or even my inner self. The voice in my head is a therapist from long ago who told the anxiety ridden me “Someone else’s opinion of you is none of your business”.
Let me say that again for those of you who have obsessive people-pleasing tendencies like I do “SOMEONE ELSE’S OPINION OF ME IS NONE OF MY BUSINESS” Those words are never more profound then when we’re creating something. Maybe it’s a book, a blog, a company, a piece of art, or your fashion sense. When you’re creating something from your heart, you do it because you can’t NOT do it. You produce it because you believe your creation deserves to be out in the world. You work and work and then you close your eyes and cross your fingers and hope it finds recognition. But here’s the thing about following your dreams, I believe you create because you have a God-given ability to do so. You create as a gift to yourself, and the higher power who blessed you with those abilities. But you can’t make people like or understand it. You have to be willing to put it out there even if they don’t like it. Even if they hate it. Even if they give it 2 stars or none at all.
When I first started this website I took cruddy photos on my cruddy camera and three people read my posts. Now over a million people visit The Chic Site each month and our friends on Facebook continue to grow by leaps and bounds. But you know what comes with all that growth?
Two years ago people either clicked the “like” button, or commented with how much they loved it or they didn’t. Now we find readers are so much more inclined to tell us why they dislike what we posted, or how they’d NEVER use those ingredients, or more and more lately that they don’t like the clothes I’m wearing or how my hair is styled in a photo. It’s hard to not let that kind of thing hurt your feelings, especially when we work so hard on each and every post. But I believe in what we do here. I believe in my dreams for this site and what it can be, and I care more about pushing those dreams out into the world and hoping they find a place than I do about whether or not some people might not understand them.
I hope you’ll remember this in your own life and I hope you’ll create for yourself and in celebration of your ability to do so, regardless of what anyone else thinks. You get to choose your reality and when it comes to following your dreams, always, always choose to believe in yourself. ~Rachel