People are like creative work.
You have to go through a lot of mediocre ones, bad ones even, to end up with something good. Even then, it doesn’t mean it will always be good.
Nothing is linear.
You learn which ones you want to spend time with and how you want to spend that time. You know not to waste any on fruitless pursuits, and you know not to settle for what’s good enough.
You search for it. You work for it. You suffer for it.
You open yourself up to ridicule, criticism and ignorance because of it.
And it’s worth it. Because good stuff begets more good stuff. Where you find awesome people you’ll likely find more awesome people. Maybe not right away, but at some point.
It’s what fuels my writing and my relationships.
When I started dating a new boy, it was a bigger deal than I thought it would be. Correction: a bigger deal to everyone else than I thought it would be. It was certainly a big deal to me.
At first, I spent a lot of time trying not to piss anyone off. And anytime you do that, with people, with work, with anything, you’re done.
You’ve let fear get the best of you. Sometimes it’s a valid fear, like when doing something might result in your and your loved ones’ exile from the modern world.
But compared to that, everything else doesn’t seem so life and death.
Because it isn’t.
I looked at who had been with me at my best and my roughest, and who would be with me beyond that.
I looked at myself. How my personal self affected my writing self. How I could push for good work and surround myself with good work but not push for the same thing in my physical world.
What happened next was painful and terrible, but also kind of great. On one hand, I had people I hadn’t talked to in ages telling me all about my horrible life decisions. On the other, I found someone I could talk to about anything and everything, with much self-deprecation and humor.
It wasn’t as simple as that — nothing is — but it was simple in truth. You can’t achieve anything great without risking anything great.
It’s a truth we’re all familiar with, but one that needs repeating when we most need it. Like when we’re about to take the last shred of toilet paper without replacing it. Or quit a job to pursue something completely different. Or do something that makes our lives great fodder for a telenovela.
I had to let go of parts of myself and people I’d loved so I could be more like who I was becoming.
How people responded to that, I decided, didn’t matter. At least the ones who didn’t matter to me. There were plenty of moments when I thought: How dare they? They don’t know me and what I’ve been through!
And that’s just it. They don’t. They probably never will.
In life, whether we do something great or terrible or just okay, everyone will have an opinion. We’d all like them to be informed and educated and smart opinions, but that doesn’t always happen.
What has happened is the big players are still big players. The minor ones have faded into the background, like I thought they would.
And it didn’t hurt. Too much.
If I had to do it all over again, with the power of hindsight, I would.
Because if good begets good and bad begets bad, then strength must also beget strength.
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