No one will read this.
First off, it should be said that the title of this essay is a lie.
It’s a lie that likely you believe. It’s a lie I’ve believed more than a dozen times. In the gym the other day, while goblet squatting, I thought to myself, “I have to write about the lies.” I have to write about the things that hold us back, the things we tell ourselves late at night when we’re scrolling through social media as if that next picture is going to give us the fill we need to feel adequate enough for this world.
The lies, if you listen to them, will keep you. They’ll take from you. They’ll stop you in your tracks and they will not let you proceed any further.
So this lie, the one I am tackling today: no one will read this.
You’ve thought it when you opened a crisp, clean word document because a small confident shred of you thought you had something to say. You started typing. The words flew out. Your confidence grew. Your hands got hot. Maybe, at one point, you had to stand up and walk around the room because you felt that passionate about what you were saying.
And then you finished. And your hand hovered over the “publish” button but you didn’t do anything with it. You said, “I’ll come back to this later.” And that was just enough space, just enough air, for the lie to come in and infiltrate.
The lie hissed into your ear, “No, you’re crazy. No one is going to read this thing.”
If you’re anything like me then you’re just beginning the practice of fighting against the lies.
I’ve written about the lies for many years, the ones that seep in and steal precious things from us. But writing about something and then dealing with it are two very different things and often the challenge that we, as writers, face. We can talk a great deal about things we think we know but poetic words and action steps are two very different things.
So these days, I’m a fighter. It’s like the Lent season hit and POOF, it was time to become a fighter. I’ve been off in my little prayer closet and no longer able to accept the lies so freely floating in my head, taking up space and leaning on me to be their landlord.
It’s not easy work. It’s tedious and I have some mornings where nothing seems to happen. But I am showing up everyday to no longer accept the lies and fight back against them with something truer.
So back to that lie: No one is going to read this.
No one is going to see me. No one is going to care. See how the lie can take on so many different verbal skins?
What if I told you only one person would read that next blog post you wrote. That one person would sit at their computer and scroll through your words and they would take notes. They would tack some quotes to the wall. They would borrow your strength. They would make a brave decision. What if I told you one person’s life would be changed because of the words you sat down to write? Would one person be enough for you?
You can never begin to know, never mind claim, the impact your creations will have on other people. People rarely comment. Word of mouth still trumps any form of social media. Release yourself from the pressures of numbers and metrics and just set out to create something that changes you. If it can change you then it can change others. But you have to believe in what you create if you ever want people to believe in it too.
It’s never been about the numbers or the masses. I can promise you this. If you start to follow down that path, to chase the things you cannot control, you will find the chasm in your soul growing deeper and wider. You will find the hunger intensifying. Your spirit will lose momentum. You’ll stop enjoying the process and you’ll tense up and wince every time you go to share something with the world. It should never be about the impact you’re going to make— it’s about the heart and soul you inject while it’s still yours, before it sets out in the world.
People will never be able to give you the significance you crave. Don’t make it about them. Create because it would break your heart not to. Create because you’re out to change one life. Make one life the goal and don’t discount the goal if it doesn’t happen overnight. Something you created 5 years ago might go on to impact someone 5 years from now.
Fix yourself on the one and then go out there and do for the one what you wish you could for all of them.