A couple days after “Sit Down and Shut Up” was published by the Billings Gazette, my Gazette guy called me and asked me if I would consider submitting “The Day I Learned That Men Cannot Control Themselves” for publication, a piece I wrote nine months ago about an experience I had at church camp with very similar themes to my yoga pants article. As soon as he suggested it, my chest froze up a little. I stammered and stuttered my way through the rest of the conversation without saying yes or no. I just wanted to get off the phone. RIGHT NOW.
As soon as I hung up, I felt this yuckiness floating around me. Because I didn’t want to publish it. I knew that immediately. Because: too much. And I couldn’t quite tell what that “too much” was. Too much attention the last couple weeks? Too much reading comments about how I was “too much”? Too many comments about how the Gazette was “beating a dead horse” by letting me keep talking? Too many feelings brought up in me?
I was afraid of a lot of things. Afraid I was being perceives as “too” much. “Too” outspoken. “Too” angry. That I was pointing out “too” many negative things. That people were going to see my name at the top of the page and say “nope, not reading her stupid, angry opinion again.”
Then I was confronted with an even worse problem. What was I going to write now? What about those people who read my words and loved them? What were they expecting now? Something similar to my last pieces? Were they all going to leave if I started talking about baby stuff and marriage stuff and things that make me happy and hopeful?
Essentially I was stuck in a place of being afraid of being “too much” and also “not enough”. Stuck in a place where I was letting what everyone else thought creep up my shoulder and into my ear and into my brain and heart. And if that isn’t one of the most universal struggles for women, I don’t know what is.
I was getting tired and getting worn down by all of the unexpected attention. You guys, I was used to a post getting something like ten total comments. Now every day I am getting emails and comments and requests for interviews and requests to reprint my words. Part of me wants it to last forever, to get to keep talking and people keep listening. Part of me secretly hopes I go back to the little circle of readers who were there no matter what I was talking about. Shout out to you guys. I really love you guys.
Did you guys know my Facebook page likes almost tripled over the past couple weeks? And that even though it wasn’t “supposed to” it made me feel good? And did you know instead of looking at all the new readers I was getting, I saw that over the past two weeks, eight people have “unliked” my page? EIGHT PEOPLE. Instead of focusing on all the support, praise, and encouragement I was getting, I turned my energy to wondering what I did wrong to make those people leave. GAH! See anything wrong with that picture?
So here I am writing again. Tap, tap, tapping on my keyboard hoping something coherent comes out. I write not because I am looking for sympathy. I write because I realized what I had to do was just keep writing. Sometimes you just have to keep moving, even if you aren’t entirely sure where you are going. I have to write for the reason I wanted to write in the first place – because it is therapeutic to me.
The truest true thing I can do is trust my gut. Sometimes that is hard for me to do, because my gut leans towards always staying warm and cozy within my comfort zone and treats any deviation from that like a huge red flag of imminent danger. So maybe I should have let the Gazette publish that old piece of mine. One part of me is bothered that I shied away from having it published because of fears of being “too much.” Because sometimes it feels like the only thing a woman has to offer the world is to look perfect and smile and nod politely. Sometimes this idea, that the entirety of my existence should be to make others feel comfortable, makes me a little crazy.
It would be a lie to tell you I don’t care about what others think. Yeah, I might be too much. I might be not enough. I might be both. Or I might be neither.
“People will love you. People will hate you. And none of it will have anything to do with you.” –Abraham Hicks