I’m Not a Follower

The problem with being a follower? You don’t always know who’s doing the leading and where you’re really going.

I mentioned in my earliest posts, I’m relatively new to social media, though this is my third blog. Otherwise, I’ve mostly avoided it as something not particularly essential to my life. I especially don’t like big corporations using it to pick my pockets when they already make enough money off me. Staying mischievously out of focus has been a point of pride for much of my adult life. (See the post “The Year of Being “Extra”)

Then I went and finally finished a book I started thirty years ago. Of course, I would like other people to read it and pay me for the privilege of doing so. Afterall, I’ve spent seven months working on it. Recognition is nice. However, I’m not particularly concerned over making any high falutin’ lists or winning awards. It is a matter of personal pride to set very high standards for any project I decide to complete, and I like being different. I’m getting old and cranky enough, it doesn’t bother me in the least to say, “I’m doing it my way.” If someone else appreciates my hard work, they do have my gratitude. Otherwise, I learned a long time ago, I don’t need the approval of others to feel as if my life has validation. While I do enjoy spending time with real people, I’m actually comfortable in my introverted skin.

Here’s my main issue with social media, especially the word “follow”. Blindly following someone simply isn’t my M.O. Whenever I get recommendations on social media, the first words out my mouth are, “I don’t know that person.” I’ve also seen other things which make me scratch my head, like a new app being advertised by a certain food channel, using the word win for preparing holiday meals and cookie swaps. When did those occasions become contact sports, instead of spending quality time with those who matter to us? They also push the opportunity to learn during real time with their celebrities.

Granted, those people arrived where they’re at due to hard work. I respect that and even like watching some of their shows. But I don’t need to spend personal time with any of them to feel like my life has meaning, maybe because I’ve been learning in the kitchen on my own for a few years now. I also associate my love of cooking and baking with some of my favorite people, like my grandmothers. The people who have loved me, and took the time to teach me because of it, are my influencers. My mom was my most important influencer of all, because she taught me to treat others with love and respect no matter what. Her influencer was Christ.

There are all kinds of suggestions and rules concerning the utilization of social media if you want to sell something. The notion I need to “build my brand” still cracks me up. Reality and I have a long relationship with each other. Frankly, I find ignoring it counterproductive, along with trying to convince the rest of the world my life is perfect. Life is short, and my brain is packed with ideas I want to create before I die. Sadly, there is no such thing as a perfect life for anyone. If you want true freedom, or secretly consider yourself a rebel, be at peace with your imperfect life. Just don’t allow it to hold you back.

When I was putting out a rather large fire in my backyard a few weeks ago, it certainly wasn’t my first impulse to write a blog post about it. (“Building my Brand”) By the end of the day, I was asking myself, “Why the heck not?” I didn’t do so because I wanted anyone to feel sorry for me. (I needed a blog topic. Really!) People do make “ass”umptions though, that I have a lot of time on my hands because I no longer work outside the home. Again, no I don’t. Perhaps because I’m a mother of grown children, whom I still see holding themselves back because they’re making excuses, I decided to put my foot down and give the two of them a proverbial kick in the backside. Only, it has to start with me, doesn’t it?

Since I dug my book out of my memory bank (sort of), I’ve frequently asked myself, “Do I really need others to read it that badly?” In the grand scheme of things, the answer is “no”. Resurrecting, and actually finishing, after setting it aside 20 yrs. ago, is a major accomplishment. One which I will always have, whether others read it or not. Granted, the idea of self-publishing and being an independent business owner is scary, not to mention an awful lot of work. I have not hidden the fact there is already plenty on my plate and privately questioned my sanity more than once. So, why do it at all?

The answer is joy, my friends. The true difference between the book I began, and the book I ultimately wrote was that it brought me joy this time. Even though I tapped into some difficult emotions to put the conflict thumb screws on my characters, I gave them moments of joy too. Those moments were a pleasure to write. There were also some significant changes to some of the characters, especially the hero and his mother. I knew, deep in my heart, I couldn’t create a “hero” whose values were the opposite of mine. His mother was my biggest surprise, and she became my favorite character. She’s wise and funny. (Not like me, at least the wise part.) I firmly believe writers can only take a true position of authority when they’ve experienced something themselves. Just like my children, I discovered I’ve grown a lot since I first started writing.

Writing, in particular, seems to require a whole host of motivational tools. Why? Probably because most people who claim to be writers think it’s a chore. Nothing is a chore if you truly enjoy doing it, and doing it for yourself before worrying about others. That’s the only motivation I’ve needed. Since I’ve begun seriously writing again, I have no idea how many words I’ve actually written, though my slightly arthritic hands might know. I haven’t been keeping count, except for the length of my book. Even so, it’s been through several revisions. I write every day, at least a little bit, because it brings me joy.

Not compromising my standards to fit a mold, or meandering in the opposite direction of everyone else, brings me joy as well. I prefer the word visit when I check out another person’s blog, or engage on other platforms. If I’m listed on someone’s site or social media account, do me the courtesy of considering me a regular visitor, not a follower. You will get the same treatment if you visit me. I’m not interested in out-hustling anyone or competition of any kind. If someone discovers and chooses to read the book I’m releasing soon, I want them to do so, because they expect it to give them the same joy it did me while writing it. Not because I ran an effective social media campaign. (Since I read for pleasure, the joy factor is how I’ve always evaluated what I want to read.)

Quote of the Week

True happiness comes from freeing yourself of the expectations and judgements of others. It’s the hardest form of freedom to obtain, but the only one which really matters.

Kristal DeJong

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