Intimacy brings with it the promise of wonderful pleasure as well as the potential for pain.
Whenever we open up to someone, we hope that the other person will do the same. If you meet someone you like, you can try and talk to them and they may respond or they may blow you off. If you ask someone out, they can accept or they may reject you. The first time you tell someone that you love them, they may reciprocate and they may not. But we make these moves anyway, knowing that we are taking a risk of emotional injury.
Among all of these stages, as well as many others, we make ourselves vulnerable. We display a part of ourselves, whether it be our bodies, our minds, our dreams, or our creations and there is the possibility that these things will not be appreciated. There is a possibility that something that is important to us will not be appreciated by others.
But for the sake of the possibility of real intimacy and appreciation, we try. Better to love and lost than not to have loved at all, and all that crap.
The last couple of days I have been reflecting on why I waited so long to publish my book. I knew that I really enjoyed writing it and I know that I like it, but what I don’t know is whether anyone else will. I find myself trying to accept the possibility that nobody else will like it. The question then is whether that will be OK.
If I like myself, is it OK if I’m rejected? Is it enough to be comfortable with myself? What if I’m wrong? What if my tastes are bad? Is it possible about being wrong about what you like? To what extent is it meaningful to state that something is objectively good?
Similar to my reluctance to publish, I am generally reticent, and shy, in social settings most of the time. If I have a few drinks, this changes (of course), but I don’t want to be as shy as I am normally. I fear that the real me, the one that you cannot see behind my reticence, will look uninteresting to you. I’m afraid of not being liked or loved.
And yet, there are people who like me. There are people who love me. Knowing that, I must believe that there are things about me that are good, right? I must be lovable in some way. The people who love me are are intelligent, interesting, and pretty amazing people, so if they like me that must mean I have some worth, right?
Well, sure. But that does not mean that everything about me is good. That does not mean that all the thoughts I have, all the posts I write, and all the things I do are worth anyone’s time or attention. So what if something I do or say is crap? What if I spent hours writing and editing a novel that is not any good?
Does it matter?
In one sense, all that matters was the journey. I set out with a goal, worked towards it, and reached it. My goal was not to create something that everyone would love–or even that anyone else would love–right? Well, no, not exactly. I want people to like it. I want someone to appreciate the effort and the product. In the same way that when I talk to a person at a party, ask a woman out, or take off all of my clothes, I want the person I’m doing it for to like it.
So, in that case, if nobody likes it have I failed? Is the fact that I like it insufficient, if I’m being honest with myself?
Well, failure is too strong a word. I have not failed totally; I wrote, edited, and published a book. That is a success in itself. But to say that if I like it then that’s enough, I’m not being completely honest. And so I hope that people will like it. Even if they are only few. Even if those closest to me don’t especially like it. I think that success, here, is measured in making any connection with others.
In the same way that I don’t need to be attractive, funny, and desirable to everyone, I don’t need everyone to enjoy my writing. I know some people do. And I suspect that someone else will enjoy my book. My success will be in finding who they are, knowing that I made myself vulnerable before them and they still like me, love me, and respect me.
Still, it’s scary.