Tuesday, April 13, 2010
For many years, I've heard advice telling me to be proud of myself and my accomplishments, to toot my own horn. Up until a couple of years ago, that was very hard for me to do, because even when I felt proud about something I'd done (and feeling healthy pride took me years), the toot-my-horn advice I've heard as an adult would crash into the don't-brag advice I'd heard as a child. Noisy mess, that.
But three years ago my first book was published with a mainstream publisher, and I had to learn to promote it. And, therefore, to promote myself. That was very hard because I felt so shy about the project and the accomplishment of our goals. I wrote the book with one of my brothers, who'd already published a book, so I don't think he had the same qualms about his second one.
Despite my shyness, though, I had to learn to mention it to people, because it was a helping book, and I wanted it to help people. So I learned, first, to respond when others asked about it. I learned to call libraries and set up talks I would give on the book's topic -- dealing with difficult relationships. My natural friendliness and enjoyment of public speaking helped me move to the next level of mentioning the book when people would ask what I'd been doing lately. I got used to hearing myself talk about the writing and publishing process and about my gratitude for the book's success.
It didn't take long for me to recognize that some big changes were taking place. I now talk comfortably (and gratefully) about this accomplishment and about the book that followed it and the one that's in the works now. I learned to feel comfortable with using gifts I'd been given and with receiving attention because of them. I still do internal doubletakes at what's going on, but I enjoy what I'm doing, and I love being able to write stuff that helps somebody in any way -- by encouragement, with a laugh, a good cry, whatever. It turns my crank.
So for me the moral of the story is to continue to be open to change, whether it takes place in myself or in the world around me. If I choose to, I can continue evolving, and -- good news -- I can enjoy it. Change can make me bitter, resentful and stuck in the past, or it can help me be more interesting, useful and conscious. I definitely prefer the latter. What do you choose?