After I write an article and share it on social media, I find myself all too eagerly awaiting the likes, comments and shares. I know I shouldn’t need validation that I’m putting out meaningful work, but it usually takes my ego 15 or so (okay, more like 30) minutes to remember that.
During that ‘window of ego’, sometimes I’ll spin out in a mental frenzy. Are people reading? Do they like it? Will I make an impact?
When I finally stop obsessively checking my social media stats and come to, I breathe in and remind myself of a few important things: what matters is sharing my truth and connecting with others; that the numbers will never matter more than the lives I impact. Some days, pulling myself out of a social media spiral seems impossible, my worry about trying to make a difference sends me reeling. And some days, the ones who pull me out of that spiral are exactly those lives I’ve impacted (and nine times out of ten, I had no clue I’ve made a difference in these people’s lives).
Last week, when I least expected it (i.e., when I wasn’t mid-frenzy and desperately refreshing my social media apps), a long-time friend posted a raw, vulnerable, unconventional post on Facebook. This person, who usually doesn’t go deep on Facebook, spoke about his grief and mental health struggles over the last few years and how 2020 was the year to give him love, healing and happiness. My friend wrote about how he went inward and got to know himself in a new way. He also bought a house in a community he loves and spent precious time with his wife and his dog. All of these helped him to move forward from his trauma and darkness. But although my friend had a beautiful year and a desire to share his experiences, he hadn’t because he felt guilty because many others had a difficult year.
Reading about his brave ‘coming out’ of sorts – the courage to share his story with others – gave me hope for deep healing in the world and reminded me of how much I love him. With happy tears in my eyes, I responded to his post, telling him how proud I was of him. I let him know that his words were beautiful – and I mentioned that I’d known him for close to 20 years and never knew him to be a writer.
He responded, saying he thought of me as he wrote his post thanks to the amount of vulnerable sharing and writing I’ve been doing lately. I was shocked to learn he’d been reading my work. I don’t recall getting a like or a comment from him in the past, but perhaps I have. I was honored to know that the work I’ve been creating spurred someone else to create meaningful work. With every new piece I write and choose to share with the world, more people will be thinking about the world differently, healing, bravely telling their stories and perhaps creating their own work too.
Take this as a reminder that while “Atta girls” (or boys), awards and social media love are important and feel great, they are not the whole picture and they don’t define your worth or impact. You’re creating value. There are many lives you’ve impacted that you don’t even know about and there will be more too.
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PS – Here’s an affirmation to remind you of your worth when putting your ideas/work out there: “I trust my work can and will make a difference. I believe that it will be received by those who need it most; I can feel my impact taking place.”
PPS – Do you want to kick your insecurities to the curb? Spend a few minutes journaling. Here’s a prompt: Think about a piece of work you’re putting out into the world: your food, your coaching, your writing, your music, your artwork – whatever that work may be. Imagine a few different people taking in your work: an older man with cancer, a young girl whose parents are moving through divorce, a mother of four suffering from depression, your ideal audience. How does your work help them? If you were with them 1×1, what would they say about how your work has impacted them?