A few months ago I got my first angry email from someone on my email list. And it hurt. Not surprising. Things like that hurt. No matter how thick your skin, when someone attacks you, you feel it.
I felt it.
Your last email reads like marketing waffle thinly veiled as pseudo “genuine” expression and “meaningful” existential preponderances. One or the other would be fine, but mixing them together makes for a vile, untrustworthy concoction….
Yep. That’s what showed up in my inbox.
Thankfully I have wonderful, wise women in the online space who I can turn to, and to them I went. With great love and kindness they told me to ignore it, to even celebrate it as proof that I’ve “arrived”.
So I could have just dismissed it. I could have done what they said and ignored it.
But I didn’t.
Because her words meant something to me. She had pushed a button, one that I realize now, was waiting to be pushed.
And I started questioning things… my actions, my objectives, my trajectory…
I realized that her words upset me so much because she was questioning my integrity. She was doubting my honesty in my writing, accusing me of using emotion to manipulate. She was lumping me in with all the other online business owners who DO use story and vulnerability as marketing tactics.
And the truth was, I had lumped myself in with them too. Somewhere along the way in the last couple years I had started to use my stories to sell. And even though connection and honesty were cornerstones of everything I wrote, my writing had shifted to “marketing” rather than writing for the sake of writing.
So there I was, smacked in the face with the reality that I was using my talent for objective driven content marketing rather than soulful expression, and I was stunned. Even though this strategy has built me a business I love (thank you!), I realized that by taking this path I was playing small. I was shrinking from my purpose.
Because that’s not what I was put on this Earth to do.
And now here I am, these handful of months later, my writing has changed. My objectives have changed. My brand has changed. Now I write for the sake of writing. I share for the sake of sharing. And it feels sooooo good. The words flow with so much more ease. Ideas are ever-present. I am no longer trying to manipulate my creativity, rather I am free to sink into it. To let it be everything… to let it be nothing… to let it be.
I think so many of us do this – we take things we love and try to shift them into something more. There’s always another webinar, podcast or blog post out there telling us to turn our hobbies into businesses, passions into profits. And not that I am stepping away from the model entirely, but I feel like I have given my writing a new freedom – to be what it wants to be, needs to be. To be what it was always meant to be. I’ve stopped shaping it and am instead allowing it to shape me.
Perhaps we are trying too hard to turn our passions, talents and hobbies into income generating activities – at least those of us who are living in this weird-ass online space. I think we all might be a little happier if we allow ourselves to indulge in creativity for the pure purpose of creating, rather than trying to increase our bottom line.
I grew up in a community of creators- artists, sculptors, writers, farmers. Makers. People who were living with their creativity leading the way and no one was trying to reach 6-figures (though I’m sure they wouldn’t have complained if they had). They were choosing a simple life, one where they could indulge in their passions and still pay the bills at the end of the month, perhaps not much more. And they are happy. Their art leads the way, rather than the quest to make more, more, more money.
I know I am now happier, writing to write, bottom line put aside for another time.
Re-configuring my business and perspective to be based on the pull of my spirit rather than the claims of the next 6-figure or 7-figure marketing plan has decreased my stress and increased my joy. Yes, I have bills to pay each month and trips I want to take. My cash flow sheet is an important part of my business. But I won’t minimize my talents or sacrifice my passions anymore because I’m aiming for an external goal that has been set by someone with an MBA whose plan all along was to make the big bucks.
My plan was never to make the big bucks.
My plan was to write.
So I am incredibly grateful for the woman who sent me that vicious piece of hate mail. She really did push a button that was waiting to be pushed, that needed to be pushed. I trust I would have gotten to this place anyway, but sometimes a good kick in the ass helps. Thank you.