Sunday, January 16, 2011

Watching Closely from Afar

Did you update your Facebook status? Did you comb your hair this morning? Did you check your teeth after you ate that salad?

Everyday, we put ourselves out there. Whether it’s a tweet, a YouTube link, a walk down the street, a blog post, or a water cooler conversation, we share a piece of ourselves with the world for its consideration: LOL. Seriously? Nice hair. Interesting. Idiot. We smile when someone “likes” the story we posted about the funny thing our cat did today and grin a bit wider when they reply with a “BWAHAHAHA!”

We may never admit (even to ourselves) that we care about what other people think of us, but it doesn’t change the fact that we would cringe if we got home, looked in the mirror and realized that we had been walking around the office with a sliver of Arugula stuck between our teeth. Lettuce trumps pride.

Judging and being judged is a daily reality. It’s also quick and often involuntary. That’s how we’re built. Observation and opinion are the little gifts nature has given us to organize the world and stay alive. Hot or cold. Good or bad. Sweet or hurry-and-spit-it-out-before-it-kills-you.

But accepting the inevitability of perception and judgment doesn’t mean I have to like it. Knowing that everything we share – a new haircut, a presentation, a debut novel – is subject to scrutiny (cursory or otherwise) can be a bit unnerving. I can’t begin to tell you the anxiety I have every time I click “publish” and send another blog post into the world to fend for itself.

My husband tries to make me feel better by saying that I only feel this way because it’s new. But just between you and me, I think that there are some things that simply never get old. Years of watching my children at the playground have proven this. My heart still lodges in my throat when they clamber up jungle gyms or swing from monkey bars. No matter how old they get, my kids always seem shiny, fragile, and new to me. I don’t want them to climb too high, to run too fast, or to slip down the slide backwards. But I have to. I have to bite my tongue and stay glued to the bench.

When my son tripped today, I did just that. I smiled at him, waved, and waited for him to pick himself up. His jeans got dirty, but he was okay. It got me thinking that perhaps, the way I watch my children play is how I should be with my blog and BEFORE EVER AFTER. Maybe that’s the only way I can survive this experience without a nervous breakdown. I should learn to sit on my hands and watch my words closely from afar - to set them free to be liked or unliked for what they are, to let them fall down and scrape their knees, to tell funny stories about cats with lunch between their teeth.






16 comments:

Scrollwork said...

Great analogy! and a workable solution. When you try something at which you don't yet have an impressive batting average, that's how life stays interesting. How do we build up a Teflon layer about responses to our work?

ernesto said...

You are whetting our appetites too much for your upcoming novel.Can't wait for it.

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

Scrollwork - When you find out, let me know! :)
Ernesto - Thanks! :)

Traci said...

Wonderful post! Love the clever analogy of watching a child play - your child - and wanting to protect him/her (much like our manuscripts), and knowing there's a time to let go a little. ;-)

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

Thank you, Traci! :)

tracythewriter said...

Love this!

Denise said...

What a wonderful post, and your timing is perfect. I needed to hear this. I'm suffering some of the same anxiety and to know it's a shared thing seems to make it a little easier to bear.

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

Tracy - Thank you! :)
Denise - Thank you! You are definitely not alone! :)

Kelly Andrews said...

Good post. If you're going to blog, you have to be honest -- dishonest writing is not a great habit for writers to get into!

ernesto said...

Me gusta como escribes!

ocmominmanila.com said...

You're funny and interesting -- and so is your book (well, the 1 paragraph of it that I read on the sidebar)! so you should actually update your status more often and join the land of Twitter. Haha.

I wonder how your husband will cope with the fact that you will have more friends than he on FB though ...

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

Kelly - Exactly! :)
Ernesto - Muchas gracias!
OCMom -Haha! Thanks for the tips! Twitter is the next frontier (more anxiety? Bring it on!). As for overtaking the hubby in terms of FB friends…I think it will be more likely that frogs will fall from the sky. ;)

ernesto said...

Oye Samantha! Debes traducir tu libro en Espanol No debes olvidar que Espanol es el lenjuaje mas popolular despues de Ingles en los Estados Unidos .

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

Ernesto - Paging the Publishing gods… ;)

Claire Dawn said...

Brilliant! I love great analogies.

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

Claire - Thank you so much! :)