The Flip Side
I promise I don’t actually care how you feel about me, regardless of how it seems.
Look, I wrote last week about how I want to be all about community and openness and honesty and all that. Well this post is sort of the flip side of that, which is more openness and honesty than it is community. More about me than it is about you, I guess.
As much as I want to be about community, and I do, there’s an aspect of it that is still focused on me, and it’s hard for me to control that. Or rather, it’s hard for me to figure out if I need to control that. I mean, how much of it is healthy motivation and how much is some sort of selfish ambition, right? How much is genuine and how much is “selling out” (for lack of a better term)?
For example, why do I want so badly to write on this blog more? I’m awful at self-promotion because I feel really dumb trying to plug myself a lot. But at the same time I clearly want people to read what I write, otherwise I wouldn’t post this stuff on the internet. So I have to ask myself whether my writing is for my own benefit or if it’s really about building community or if it’s just so you will like me. But I promise I don’t actually care how you feel about me.
Along with that, I have to wonder if it’s genuine at all, or if I’m trying to market myself. I mean, “artists” like Katy Perry and Lady Gaga tried their hand at actual music before turning into the pop monsters we obsess over now. And hey, you can’t deny that whatever it is Miley Cyrus is trying to do, it’s made her more marketable. The attention is there. So am I just begging for attention to the point in which I will gladly turn into something I’m not just so you’ll like me? But I promise I don’t actually care how you feel about me.
You know what, though? I really don’t care. Sure, it’s fun how I can stop by my neighborhood coffee shop and never know how many friends I’ll run into while I’m there. How I can wander into the local diner and make small talk with the regulars. But all of that is different. I promise it is.
It’s different, because I care more about getting along with you than whether or not you like me. I know it sounds the same, but it’s not.
You see, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that this ambition or desire or whatever it is is NOT selfish. For the most part, at least. Sure, there’s still a major part of me that would kill to write a best-seller or an award winning screen play and suddenly become the type of figure where when I walk into a place, people there at least know who I am. That desire is absolutely there and I would be stupid to deny it.
But that’s the thing: I want people to know who I am, sure, but I want to know who they are as well. I want more opportunity to know more people. To know and to BE KNOWN (not in the strictly Biblical sense, for all you worried scholars). I don’t care whether people like me, but I want to be notable so that I can have that opportunity to know people and them know me in return.
I don’t think that’s unhealthy. While sacrificing for others is honorable, I think it’s just as honorable to in return be known to others. It’s healthy to crave true, genuine connection with somebody, and not in the way that you just want people to like you.
I’m going to fall short on that a lot. I’m going to do stuff just so people like me. I’m going to hide instead of pursuing true community. I’m going to be lazy as opposed to trying to write that best-seller or that hit screenplay or whatever it is. I’m going to want all these things that I ultimately will never have.
But regardless of how anything pans out, I think that’s the key: being genuine about it. The flip side of community is dealing with yourself, but if you’re genuine about both aspects, both will succeed and both will coexist. I can strive to be not just a notable person in my community, but also connect with those who live there. I can strive to accomplish great things, but also use those as tools to help others. Or something like that.
Point is, community and self-interest can co-exist, so long as they don’t turn into approval seeking and selfishness. At least, that’s the way I think it works, and that’s what I’ll at least strive for.
The connection between true community and true healthy self-interest? Genuineness (if that’s a word) and honesty and most importantly: putting others ahead of yourself.
I promise I don’t actually care how you feel about me. I’m more interested in how you feel.