He wasn’t trying to be a dick or condescending; he was trying to be supportive in his way. But now, when I sit down to write, I hear my Hubs’ voice in my head, “You’re a “storyteller,” so tell a story.” He said this to me after reading a motivational essay I’d written. His words stabbed me in the heart. It’s hard to recover after sharing with him what I've written only to get heartless criticism. I’m sensitive and that shit hurts coming from him. I have to believe he means well and wants the best for me.
In his defense, he’s German; he’s perfected the art of real talk to the tenth degree. My Hubs doesn’t beat around any bushes or walk on eggshells when telling me what he thinks, and most often, this is my preferred method of conversing. I'm not too fond of small talk and conversations lacking substance. Cheap talk favoring polite tones vs. anything of real value makes me gag. When I ask someone, “How are you?” I genuinely want to know. I’m not asking about the weather or what’s happening in sports, entertainment, and politics. Let me know what’s on your mind and how you feel.
My Hubs gets this about me, and yet when he gives me unabashed realness about my writing, I feel defeated, judged, and lacking. I give myself a fair amount of negative self-talk (‘sup Lizzy), so I’d much prefer some encouragement or validation over what feels like harsh judgment.
Is he intentionally being harsh, though? I ask myself this because, like my Hubs, I’m the first to offer my version of real talk to others as well-meaning advice. Sometimes what I intend as goodwill comes off snarky (ok, bitchy). In my mind (and heart), I’m offering pearls to help folks perform at their best. I look for ways things can be better, not to be cruel or judgy. I’m learning, though, real talk can be tempered with kindness and still be real.
I’m also learning what others judge as best for you doesn’t have to become what you believe about yourself.
For my Hubs, my best writing are stories detailing how fallible I am and how I don’t have my shit figured out. Ultimately, he feels my raw and personal stuff is my best work and what I should most share. I don't entirely agree. Those stories aren’t the sum of who I am, AND I don’t write in a box. I have layers, like a parfait.
Sometimes I write about not having my shit together, sometimes I write about how I figured out my shit, and sometimes I share bits that inspire and motivate me AS I’m figuring out my shit. Other times I share bits I’ve learned about business or being creative. There are times when I feel led to share something someone needs to read.
Granted, my Hubs is not my target audience, and I don’t write to appeal or please him, but I share my writing with him before publishing to the world because we share life together. I want him to be a part of what excites me and things that make me feel proud and accomplished. It’s like when your cat kills a mouse and brings you the carcass as a trophy gift. Sure, it’s all gooey and gross, but you’re supposed to accept it with excitement, gratitude, and grace. Wait, that’s an odd analogy. I digress.
I appreciate my Hubs’ vantage. He reads my work through a different lens filtering out less appealing bits. When I offer him my first draft to read, I’m still very close to it, the emotional wounds are fresh, so any criticism from him stings. I’m learning that his criticism, although sometimes dead and lifeless, is a gift; it’s helped me to be kinder in giving advice to others.
In the end, as much as I may want for him to like and appreciate everything that I write, that’s not gonna happen. Heck, no one is going to like and enjoy everything that I write, and I’m coming to terms with that. I have to focus on giving my brand of excellence, my gifts, my real, my way.
My brand of excellence means doing my best to be better than I was yesterday; my best and not someone else’s version. I strive to be better by staying true to my writing voice, working on my grammar, getting and staying on a regular writing and publishing schedule, and making genuine connections with others on a similar path.
So, that’s the plan for this coming new year; I’m going to do my best to share engaging stories with you. I hope you find nuggets in my writing - accept, interpret, and use them as you see fit.
As always, thanks for reading. I appreciate your support and look forward to sharing more with you in 2020 and beyond.