why you can free yourself from pointless people-pleasing
Not everybody has to like you.
Only your Right People need to like you.
When we think in terms of audience, going for a few of the people instead of all of the people seems counter-intuitive. Our instinct is to make ourselves as broad-ranging as possible, so that there’s a bit of our fabulousness for everyone.
This doesn’t work.
Think about how networks work.
We like to cluster. What’s more, we tend to cluster with people similar to us, with similar interests. If someone in a cluster falls in love with your blog, for example, chances are good she’ll pass it on to person B. Who might pass it on to persons C and D.
And so on — until you’re widely known throughout that cluster and spreading out to another, connected cluster, where word of mouth continues to do its magic.
But if your blog is all over the place, it won’t have a chance to sink through any one cluster because it’s too busy appealing to different clusters. So by the time person B or person C checks it out, your blog doesn’t seem relevant to them — which means they lose interest. The buzz stops and keels over dead.
Not to mention that if your message — your voice — is that inconsistent or compromised or watered-down to begin with, you’re unlikely to get anybody talking about you at all.
One of the best pieces of writing advice I ever got was this: picture your Ideal Reader in your head and write directly and intimately to that reader. Instead of reaching for the masses you’re reaching for the heart and soul of that one reader. You make her feel recognized
(and recognition is a gift)
by saying what she can’t, or didn’t know she wanted to say. When you resonate like that, you make a powerful connection — and a fan, maybe even a True Fan, who gets excited enough to share you with others.
Because she is one of your Right People.
You know those people: they’re the ones you groove with, and spark with, and feel both electric and comfortable with. You’ve known each other for all of ten minutes when it feels like you’ve known each other forever.
So much of the quality of our lives (not to mention our creative careers) depends upon Right People.
They might or might not be the groups of people we were born into, and who populated the schools and neighborhoods of our childhoods.
When they’re not, we’re forced to navigate difficult territory.
The groups we’re in exert a powerful influence on us. We shape ourselves to fit in, to belong. Our groups reflect back to us a sense of who we are. If they are Wrong People — especially if they’re so wrong that they’re emotionally and verbally abusive — they throw back distorted images that take our flaws and magnify them until we think that is all we are.
When we’re with Wrong People, we lop off parts of ourselves and contort ourselves to fit some kind of definition of what we think we need to be in order to win love
(what we assume to be love)
Eventually we might realize that instead of suffering this way, we can go exploring for our Right People: the people who light us up and draw out our strengths and make us better, happier versions of ourselves.
As a creator, you call your Right People to you by working as close to your soul as you can.
There’s a point, I think, where your own needs merge with the needs of your Right People, so that by writing for yourself you are writing for them, and vice-versa.
When you write for yourself, you stay passionate and engaged with your material, you push boundaries and take risks and break new ground; when you write for others, you stay connected and relevant to the world outside your own head. You don’t get lost in your journey. You make it meaningful for others.
By keeping your voice pure and true, you can send it out across the Internet and be somebody’s Right Person. You might even deliver a message that she needs to hear — because maybe you’re the only Right Person at that particular point in time, who can in some way tell her:
You are not lost, no matter what they say. You are wandering and exploring, which is as it should be. You will find your tribe. You will find your way home.
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