Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Looking Through the Glass Darkly

I discovered something about myself recently.

I like to be liked.

Now this may seem really simple and you’re probably having a “Duh, so what?” moment, but it’s really not as simple as it sounds. Yes, I like to be liked. But, it’s a little deeper than that. I like to be accepted by people. I’ve looked towards others for my validation and I tend to take what I perceive as rejection very personal. Am I getting too naked, yet?

You might want to close your eyes then, ‘cause I’m really stripping now!

I’ve left jobs, given up on relationships, even stopped going to church for a while because of the reasons above. For someone who isn’t a lover of change, you wouldn’t believe it from looking at my past and seeing all the changes I’ve been through! And why? As painful as it is to admit, it’s because I believed the people weren’t nice or I wasn’t accepted or appreciated. While one or two of those changes were valid, most were because of my hurt feelings.

As a Christian, I believe that my identity is rooted in Christ and I should be a perfect reflection of Him. If so, then why have I based who I am and my value on other’s opinions, moods and views? It’s not easy for me to admit this, but it’s true. But, I’ve—no pun intended—identified the issue. So, once again, I’ve made up my mind to…change. Not a resolution for the new year, but a renewing of my mind regarding who I am and how I see myself.

I decided to blog about this for two reasons. First, accountability. I’ve put myself out there, so it’s harder to backslide when others know. And two, I had to consider writing, or more specifically, becoming a published author. How will I handle rejection, revisions, reviews and even insults if how I view my worth is rooted in other’s opinions? I’d drive myself insane trying to conform! Or better yet, will I see a constructive revision and criticism as a personal rejection? Why do they want to change my work? Do they not like my voice or my writing style? Do they not like me? Or what happens—because it’s inevitable— when I fail or don’t final in a contest or am rejected? I would be utterly crushed before I even shot out of the starting gate. My work could be Terry McMillan-brilliant, but if my foundation, my self-image, my identity is grounded in something as fickle as an opinion, I’ll sabotage myself. When (and I’m so confidently stating when) the goal to publication is achieved, I want sweet success that has no sorrow added to it. But, first, I have to have a renewing of the mind and heart as painful and naked as that may be. As you may have guessed by now, this isn’t a blog where I have all the answers by the end, because I don’t. I’m a work in process. And that’s okay.

The key words there are “in process”.


Karen Beeching said...

Naima, you are so sweet I can't imagine anyone ever having bad feelings about you.

But I'm right there with you, miss, as I'm sure most are. I think that's why this writing group is so important. We all join hoping being a part of such a group will help us get published. But overall, I found the support of this group, whether I'm suffering from a rejection or celebrating a contest win, is priceless. There is an understanding among we romance writers that we're all in this together.

Simply put, no matter what step you're teetering on in the writing biz, you're never alone!

Naima said...

Hi, Karen!
This group has been amazing for me and has contributed so much towards bringing me out of my shell and taking a chance. It's great to have people who know and understand who you are and where you are. It's helped me grow, too. And there's no value on that. Like you said, priceless!

M.V.Freeman said...

It's hard to deal with criticism, especially the nameless ones we will never see.

But, you have a story to tell, don't let anyone tell you different. :)

That and your friends! :) Just like Karen said.

Christy Reece said...

Have to admit I don't know what I would do without my Southern Magic family. Feel so fortunate to have moved to Birmingham and met up with such a supportive and talented group of writers.

Recently a very talented and dear friend told me how to handle getting rejections, poor contest scores, bad reviews, etc. She said to just shrug and think, "Guess they just didn't get me." And then move on.

Yes it's easier said than done, but a great philosophy to adopt and practice.

And for anyone who hasn't liked you Naima...and I agree with Karen that it's hard to imagine...then you can definitely say they just didn't get you. However, we get you and love you for who you are.

Diane Richmond said...


I can't imagine Southern Magic without you. We are all works in progress!

Carla Swafford said...

I'm with everyone...people are crazy if they don't like you. Hey, I'm still waiting to be adopted into your family. Tell sis hi for me! And your sweet hubby.