This morning a woman called me a, “Flickering candle,” with, “A hidden elegance.” It was a struggle not to laugh. There’s not an elegant bone in my body. In fact, I’ve learned to embrace my clumsiness and have developed a whip-quick, “I meant to do that,” reflex. She did elaborate a bit more on the candle reference. It basically boiled down to the idea that I have a drive for something, but I shy away from feeding it. I don’t give it enough oxygen to grow. Thus, the flickering.
She’s totally right. I think it’s a fear that’s faced by anyone who wants to create anything. Words, music, poetry, art. Most of us are well aware that not everyone is going to like what we create. But there’s a dangerous place to hover where the fear is that no one will like what you create. And maybe they’ll even hate it.
I come from a generation of nacissists. Thank you, Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter for teaching us that every thought that passes through our hazy little brains is worth repeating. And thank you, Internet jerks, for jumping at every opportunity to bash and belittle anything you deem remedial. Social media is like the ultimate high school experience. It’s a popularity contest, and if you raise your hand, you just might get spit-balled. Some of us really, truly would like to share something with the rest of the class, but we’re just freaked out by the idea. I know I’m personally looking for the right to feel entitled to make noise.
As I mulled on this fear, the idea of ownership came up again and again. Who owns this space and whose permission do I need to get to be here? Can I get kicked out of this space? Oh God, can the Internet reject me?? Okay, now let’s think rationally. If the Internet was going to reject me, it would have happened the moment I thought Tom was a real friend on Myspace.
Who has to like this? I mean, really, why would I create something with the idea in mind that it’s only valid if others enjoy it? That seems like an excellent failure plan. The most beautiful things are created only for self-fullment. (See? There we are being narcissists again.) Like the weird, random, but lovely mission of two friends to mail letters to every resident of an Irish village.
I highly doubt this project was undertaken with the thought, “Gee, I hope everyone really likes this!” Who knows why they did this. Maybe they were drunk. But what does it matter? They made something for themselves, and I personally think it’s stunning.
Boiling it down; self-doubt is a bitch. Words make me happy. I get butterflies when I create them. It’s better than a three-cups-of-coffee buzz. In seventh grade, I ran into my English teacher’s classroom unannounced and burst into a full reenactment of the story I had decided to write. The idea of it was so exciting that it was exploding out of my ears. I shriveled in horror when I realized she was speaking with another teacher that I had never met. My English teacher stared at me in blank confusion. Her companion burst into laughter, through which he asked, “Who is this little sprite?”
I love that. I still want to be that. A narcissistic, noisy, little sprite. With no flickering.