Here is my truth. Yesterday, I had a major crisis of confidence and a mini-meltdown. I held it quietly, invited no guests, and offered no refreshments. I thought about how I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to create the career of my dreams, and in all honesty, it may have been a waste of my time and efforts.
It’s a feeling that’s close to hitting bottom as they say, only without a barrel of alcohol and lots of drugs; the accompanying feelings are pretty brutal.
A writer spends the majority of her time alone in her own chaotic head. This is the deal you sign when you decide to forgo social relationships and office banter (and money) for sitting at home in your jammies with a laptop, gallons of coffee, and a loyal dog, if you’re lucky. Then as a writer, there’s an expectation that you develop social relationships with millions of people, most of whom you do not know, literally boatloads of people who will love and champion your work. It’s all about being relevant.
There are books to consult and consultants to read, all of whom can help an isolated writer develop and grow a “massive platform.” Right. Makes all the sense in the world.
The other day I spoke to a friend who is seeking a mid-life career change and has immersed herself in some kind of coding camp. When I asked how it was going she told me she was struggling, and that she had so much to “Catch up on to stay relevant in this market.” It reminded me how we all fight so hard to stay, or even find our way to being relevant in a society that is so faced paced, distracted, and fragmented.
Our friends at Merriam Webster define it thus:
1 a : having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand
b : affording evidence tending to prove or disprove the matter at issue or under discussion <relevant testimony>
c : having social relevance
It must be the social relevance I’m missing. I know there are people out there who are really good at finding people who think they are the Golden Ticket. I know because I follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I read what they write and analyze it like it’s a treasure map that contains a piece I’m missing. Then it occurs to me, maybe it’s not me.
It’s not the work. I have enough confidence to know that the recent writing I’ve done is good, my best so far. I don’t have the answer for how to hook a million strangers into reading my stuff. I’m lucky to coerce the ones I do know into reading it. But this idea of relevancy is freaking me out, big time. Human beings should not have to prove that we are relevant. We are so because we breathe, and think, and do the best we can at whatever we do.
Even when we’re having a mini-meltdown in our jammies.