Why hero worship doesn’t work for me

CREATIVITY.-2

I am a sensitive soul.  Anyone who knows me will tell you that, and I think it is obvious from what I write here.

Sensitivity has many positives.  It makes us kind people – we are sensitive to others’ needs, sometimes more than most.  Sometimes.

But it comes with its pitfalls.  Fear of rejection for one.  We often don’t put ourselves out there, because comments or rejection from other people can hurt us – often more than others.  Whilst a lot of people can shrug off a lot of the crap that gets doled out, us sensitive types tend to take it all to heart.

And that is me.  All sensitive heart.

Blogging is a big deal for me.  I have a son with autism.  Any conventional 9 to 5 career was rapidly dashed as it became clear that Master J needed me at home.  I was gutted and left feeling adrift.  Blogging exploded and I saw an opportunity to put myself out there, in relative safety, from the comfort of my own home.

It didn’t come without its stresses.  Most people blog in the hope that they can make a full time living from it one day.  The pressure to monetise is huge and indeed blogging is now considered, and rightfully so, a bona fide career choice, though it takes an inordinate amount of hard work to ‘make it’ to any level that can be described as a full time career.

I lack a niche, something that is considered vital.  You need to appeal to brands to create a working relationship.  This totally makes sense.  I don’t have a niche.  That is okay.  I blog from the heart (hence the name).  But, rightly or wrongly, I do feel like that in order to consider myself a success I should be blogging about something that brands will be interested in.  I have to constantly remind myself that I am working to the beat of my own drum, that I don’t need the money (thankfully), that life has provided me with enough, and that I do this for the love of it.

But in truth, I want to be recognised, valued and considered worthy in this realm of blog.  Value and recognition is what we all crave, what drives us, and it would be incredibly arrogant of me to think otherwise.  It is about a sense of self worth, and trying to create online that which has been lost in the real-life world.

Recently, I decided to put myself out there.  I decided to email three quite big personalities about how they had inspired me.  I had lived too small for too long, I decided, and felt that it was selfish of me to expect recognition if I didn’t take the time to recognise others.  So I wrote to them.  One was an incredibly successful author, massive, like appeared on the Oprah show massive.  The other two were bloggers, one of whom actively asks for feedback in their newsletter.   I felt it was important to let these people know that I had been touched by their work.

Two of them didn’t reply at all.  The other one, the one that asks for feedback, sent through an automated response saying that whilst all feedback is valued, they were very busy and wouldn’t be able to reply.

I know that in this world of fast paced madness, that it is considered selfish and indulgent to expect personalities to respond, especially with all the crazies out there.  And perhaps there is an unwritten rule that I should be altruistic and expect nothing in return.  But this is where I have a problem.  When did it become acceptable not to respond to people taking the time to express how they value and appreciate your work?  I don’t believe anyone is too big to respond.  If the likes of Kurt Vonnegut, a world renowned author can respond, then so can anyone else.  Even if it is through ‘your people’, a choice to respond is always possible.

There’s only one rule I know of babies, God dammit, you’ve got to be kind” – Kurt Vonnegut

I was one of those girls who was always a little anti popular culture.  My friends would always have posters of pop stars from the Radio and TV times plastered over their walls.  I would go and visit them and they would drool over those posters, imagining themselves in the arms of whatever hunk was the flavour of the day.  I couldn’t understand it.  Those celebrities were just human.  They weren’t super gods.  They crapped in the toilet the same way I did.

Now, I am the first to admit that this thinking may have been borne out of the fact that I suffered terribly from low self esteem and that the idea that a pop hunk might be interested in me didn’t even warrant the dream since it was never going to happen.  Or it could just be the fact that even if you make a lot of money, have become famous and are talented in your sphere, that doesn’t make you better than me.  Maybe it is because I believe that you wouldn’t have reached that level of fame and fortune without people appreciating your work and paying money to get it.  The key here is appreciation.

So, yes, I do believe that when someone puts themselves on the line to let you know how your work has inspired them, or that they have really taken your message to heart and used it in their lives, or how your blog speaks to them every day, it damn well warrants a thank you at the very least.  Whilst you  have given them a gift of inspiration, they have given you the gift of their time and appreciation.  And that takes courage, sometimes a lot of courage.

I am sensitive, easily hurt. Even by random celebrity types whom I haven’t met personally.  I mistakenly gave those three people hero status.  It wasn’t fair to do this.  By my own mantra, they are human, they make mistakes, they believe their own press.  I have had to let them go.  I still value their words (you know words are my thing), but I also realise that when you get to some kind of status (afforded you by other people by the way), it’s easy to forget who you were writing for in the first place.

I never want to forget.  Please don’t let me forget.  If I ever reach some form of status in the blogging world, and you write to me to let me know how much you value my work, and I don’t respond, feel free to email me a kick up the bum.

Have you had a similar experience at all?  How did you deal with it?

Much love,

SHW Signature

 

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27 thoughts on “Why hero worship doesn’t work for me

  1. Many quote Roosevelt in saying that comparison is the thief of joy. It can be true. But, to me, the ultimate thief of joy is expectations. Comparison can breed inspiration, goals and a sense of momentum. For me, expectations are almost always met with disappointment. Rarely are my expectations exceeded. I now make a conscious effort to rid myself of expectations. I still try to foster excited anticipation for things – but I try to be very measured in what my actual expectations are. Like you, I’m not into hero worshiping either – because it seems to make concrete expectations of others. Instead, I leave people I admire in a box where I can compare myself to them to the point of inspiration. Nothing more.
    Your posts always cause deep reflection. Thank you for that.
    PS: I think you do have a niche – it is honesty and kindness. A beautiful and unique niche. If you wanted to blog with brands – find brands that suit that niche. If anyone could do that, it would be you. x

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    • I agree with you to some extent – expectations can be the thief of joy and I thought about not writing the post based on that. It was my expectations that had let me down. But then I thought about it and despite them being my expectations, it was still rude to at least not acknowledge the compliment. It is the same as ignoring someone in person and I don’t think that is right. Usually I don’t put people on pedestals but this time I did and I think I have learned to heed my own advice, which has been with me since childhood – an inherent knowing that at the end of the day, when all is stripped bare, we are just the same.

      I hadn’t thought about my niche as honesty and kindness but I like it!

      Thanks for your comments and for your faith in me xx

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  2. I haven’t had a similar experience…because I’ve never been game enough to write that email, thanking someone I admire for inspiring me, or for creating something I loved. Because my fear of being rejected or not hearing from them got the better of me. I so admire you Sarah for sending those emails, and to the non-repliers…well they missed out on an opportunity. And thanks for reminding me that we all crap in the toilet the same way! You are right! xx

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    • I had the same fear Sally, and I still do. I felt compelled to write about it because all three did not respond. It made me feel there was a trend, or I was just incredibly unlucky. Probably the latter! I still have hope, though my expectations are somewhat lower.

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  3. That sucks.
    I’ve never thought to write to anyone I admire until recently. I wrote a review of Cea Person’s incredibly good first book “North of Normal” (you’d love it Sarah!). Then I wrote to Cea and told her I loved her book and had reviewed it. She went to my blog and commented on the review. I was completely blown away.
    Maybe it is when people are far down the path of celebrity that they forget? Cea was so real and lovely and grateful for my little review. Made me love her even more. I know if I ever got famous I would struggle not to respond to everything because I’d hear my Mum in my head telling me not to be rude… reply!
    And when you get famous, I am going to email you and tell you what I tell you now. You rock. Your words rock. I am a fan! Thanks for writing and for being so real that you still crap in the toilet. 🙂

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  4. Hi Sarah just stumbled across your blog and was intrigued by the headline. I have to say that you are brave for emailing people that have inspired you. I have been thinking of doing so but that rejection this is there for me too. I too am a sensitive soul. It’s a curse and a blessing all in one. I dont like when I comment on posts and I get no reply. I understand some people get quite high profile but when I might comment on several posts and get no reply I just dont bother and do tend to find myself reading their posts less. If I ever acquire a large audience I know that the engagement with me readers either via email or blog would be a big deal for me as I know at the end of every email and blog post is a sensitive soul wanting to be heard.

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    • Hi there and thank you for your comment and for stopping by. Us sensitive souls do take things to heart don’t we? I must admit when I comment and I don’t get a reply, I get hurt too. It’s like having a conversation where someone is being ignored. It is the reason I do my best to reply to every comment. I know that if I was getting hundreds a day that would make it hard, but I would do my very very best. All we want is to be heard and recognised, as you say xx

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  5. Hi Sarah. I loved this piece as it really resonated with me. I too write from the heart and don’t have a specific niche so monetises seems near impossible. Also, I really just want to spend my time writing and not all the hours required for self-promotion. So, I wanted to let you know I appreciated what you wrote and keep doing what you’re doing. Kat 🙂

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  6. I can understand how you feel Sarah. I have some mental health issues that means sometimes, I am incredibly sensitive and it really hurts. When I am let down or hurt, I try to be the bigger person and remember that maybe they don’t understand what it means to feel things so keenly, and also that they are human too…perhaps your message will reach them at a poignant time for them in the future and they will be glad that you took the time and gathered the courage to reach out to people you admire.

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  7. Oh my gosh. I feel this, but from the other side! I get about 15 emails/facebook messages every day from awesome people. I try to reply, but it’s really hard to keep up. And thats even before I respond to blog comments and social media comments. I don’t do a very good job, but I really try…

    I understand how awful it must be to feel ignored, because I have felt that way too! I’ve written to people I love without hearing back as well. It’s a tough one, right?

    I wonder how we balance this stuff – writing to our heroes, responding to people who take the time to write, and still finding time to do the work that people love us for. It’s a tricky balance. I think I am really crap at it!!! Great post!!!

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    • Firstly, thank you for replying here Pip, to give the other side of the coin – balance is always always important. I have to disagree with you on one thing though, I think you are really good at showing your appreciation Pip, I really do.

      As I wrote this post, I knew that my own expectations were a little unrealistic (okay, a lot), but I still feel that I had to say it, if that makes sense. Perhaps it was just a marker to remind myself to always be grateful and appreciative when people email me or comment how much they love my blog.

      That, and I am way too sensitive perhaps 🙂

      xx

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  8. I am surprised that you feel that you have not found your “niche” Sarah when it seems so obvious to me that you have one – honest, heartfelt posts about life – all of which I have read and been touched by (or relate to). I join you as being a sensitive soul (which can be a thorn in one’s side I find !) and am similarly hurt by criticism / rejection etc. Although not everyone is “kind”, some are just disorganised and time poor and I am wondering if any of the people you wrote to fit into this category ? This morning, I found some lovely comments in one of our BWP classmate’s post about my blog – probably the nicest thing that anyone has written so far. Only problem was….her blog post sat unopened in my email’s inbox since June…I only read it today as I have let things (emails included) get on top of me….I cannot comment on her kind comments as the comments are “closed” and I now feel completely mortified that I have not acknowledged her and her lovely words.

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    • Oh Ing, I am sure if you sent her an email explaining the situation she would understand. I do acknowledge that the problem lies not with them really, it is me and my expectations and sensitivities. Thank you for the lovely comment about my blog. I am learning to be comfortable with it’s non-nicheness and how it is really a reflection of me that I hope is useful or relateable in some way to others. xx

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  9. Beautiful post Sarah. I love that you’re being honest about how that feels, I have to say I don’t reach out a lot but luckily the people I have reached out to have been very generous with responding. I really would feel sad if someone didn’t, even though my cynical self doesn’t expect them to.
    ps don’t forget the possibility that with the volume of email they get it might have funnelled off to the junk mail box and they never saw it.

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  10. What a lovely honest post. It’s ok to feel sad & let down, I know I would have if I was in your position. Recently I reached out to someone who was having a hard time. I just wanted them to know I was there if they needed someone so I sent a message & got no reply. At first I was hurt & I still but I’ve tried to tell myself maybe they were too busy to reply or just forgot to because I just don’t understand how someone couldn’t even reply with a ” thanks for the offer”. Is it so hard ?
    I hope you don’t let this experience stop you from reaching out to others. Not everyone is like that x

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    • I have realised that there are many reasons for the non-reply – and I reckon too busy is probably the most common reason. I get it, but I hope I am never too busy to reply because I think it is important to reply. And yes, sadly, I have had friends do the same thing. Such fragile things, us humans. xx

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  11. I remember the first time I reached out to a big name blogger after he wrote about a subject I was very enthusiastic about – no reply or acknowledgement. I was so embarrassed! It is strange now how blogging has gone from something people did just because they enjoyed it so something that everyone is trying to make money from, it makes it a bit of a different environment sometimes.

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  12. Good job on finding the courage to get out there, Sarah. I too was hesitant before but I realized many people need to hear what I have to say not because I’m brilliant or anything. It’s because people need to know other people are going through what they’re going through and that they’re normal, they’re still okay. I hope you make it big. 🙂

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  13. I feel the same way you do about a niche. I don’t have one. I’m me. I like lots of things. I blog about lots of things. And you know what, that’s fine with me.

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