When No One Responds (and all we hear are crickets)
THE ACT OF BEING VULNERABLE SOUNDS BETTER TO ME THAN IT FEELS.
That being said, I truly believe Brené Brown when she says in her book Daring Greatly that,
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
So if vulnerability is the path, then sharing truths must be the footsteps, and I’m going to take a step right now.
Let me preface my story with something I believe to be universally true: humans want to be seen, to be noticed, to be acknowledged. It’s when we feel invisible that hope’s beautiful flame slowly burns out.
Before the creation of social media, the way we humans met this need for being seen was through physical social interaction. We met over a meal, a cup of coffee, or in our sweats by a cozy fire. Nowadays, in many cases, we humans seek to meet the need of being seen and acknowledged via social media. Whether or not this is healthy is beside the point because it’s happening whether we like it or not.
Now, I consider myself to be a fairly “woke” person. I think I’m capable of healthy boundaries with my social accounts and I try not to attach my internal value with the external amount of likes or comments I receive. That being said, I’m not immune to the lonely feeling that occurs when you post something and it feels like no one is paying attention.
And last weekend, no one paid attention. I was in the music studio and we were finishing the final guitar track on the final song on the final day of recording for my EP coming out in November. As we were working, I took a couple photos and videos and prepared to load them into Instagram Stories. After publishing the first one, I was like “maybe I should use this new Questions feature and ask people to ask me a question about my music or creative process…” As I was writing out the question, my second thought was “who am I to think that people would be interested in learning about my music or my creative process?… this feels a little pretentious.” But I did it anyway and I published it because I’m committed to trying new things – especially if they make me a little uncomfortable.
Immediately after publishing, I felt a cringe. My first thought was “what if no one responds?” It’s not like anyone can see if people respond on Instagram Stories because it goes into a direct message, but the fear was deeper than people not responding. Upon reflection, I realized the fear was multidimensional and it was rooted in this: What if after all these years and time and energy and effort and blood and sweat and tears and heartbreak and joy, no one cares when this EP comes out?
Fear is a tricky thing and it can make you spiral quickly. My mind raced to 4 and 1/2 years ago when my first EP was released and not a whole lot happened. There were a few days of hype and then it quickly plateaued. It was no one’s fault. Everyone involved poured their heart into that recording, but the truth was, we knew NOTHING about marketing, nothing about promotion, nothing about social media, etc. We didn’t have the tools in the toolbox back in 2014.
Well, we have the tools now, but there is still no guarantee people will pay attention. And last weekend no one did. No one responded. Not a one.
So why am I telling you this?
- Because I want you to know that you’re not alone. That we all have to start somewhere. That we all face rejection. That we all experience failure. That we’re all just humans doing the best with the tools in the toolbox we have at this moment in time.
- Because I want to take away the fear of you being ignored by sharing that I am ignored at times, too. We’re going to be ignored… until we’re not. And no one knows when that day of recognition will come, but…
I would rather live my life boldly, risking the fear of rejection and failure and being seen as a fool, than live my life in the safety of never having tried in the first place.
So what no one responded? So what my first EP didn’t reach the heights I had hoped it would? So what if this one doesn’t either? The point is: my hat is in the ring. Yours can be, too.
Teddy Roosevelt said,
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
I want to dare greatly. I think so many of us do, right?
But what makes this age old narrative difficult to comprehend sometimes is when our heroes dare greatly and become super successful but forget to tell us all the times they fell on their faces in order to achieve that success.
I don’t want to do that. And I’m not implying I’m your hero, but still, I want to tell you when I’m scared, when I’ve failed, when I’ve over shot or under delivered because I want you to know that all those things are part of the path… and that if I can do it, you can too.
If you have a dream, get in the arena. Consider this your kind but forthright kick in the butt.
And I want to tell you one more thing, and I want you to remember it… right now… in this moment:
It doesn’t matter if they don’t respond. It doesn’t matter if no one pays attention. It doesn’t matter if the critics voice is at first louder than your own. What matters is you. Your mind. Your heart. Your dreams.
While that may sound cliché – I know it to be true. I refuse to let any temporary feelings of rejection stand in the way of me moving forward. I refuse to shrink. I refuse to silence myself. I refuse to give up because it feels sometimes like no one is paying attention. I hope we can stand together in this.