Remember that one post I wrote? The one that was featured first on MillennialMormons.com, on LDSDaily.com, and most recently, DeseretNews.com? The one that, when I checked Wednesday morning, was at the top of the list of most popular posts across the Deseret News site?
Yeah, THAT post.
How, you may ask, did I react to all this exposure?
Well, on Tuesday, when my post first went up on Deseret News, I was pumped. (This is so cool!!”)
Then the feedback started rolling in. Comments on Facebook and the Deseret News site, other people tagging me in Facebook posts, friends and family texting to tell me about other people sharing and talking about my article, Facebook friend requests and messages from people I didn’t know…you get the idea.
At that point, I kind of panicked. (“What have I DONE??”) I couldn’t focus at work, and I may or may not have come home and hidden under the covers for a good 45 minutes. True story.
I couldn’t seem to quiet the voices in my head. What was I THINKING?? Did I really just broadcast to the ENTIRE MORMON WORLD that I’m single? How stupidly desperate do people think I am? How do I handle all of this attention? I’ve never experienced anything like this before! What do I do now?
I’ve listened to a couple of talks by Brené Brown on repeat since my post started blowing up my corner of the Internet. This one, called “Why Your Critics Aren’t The Ones Who Count” particularly spoke to me at this point in time. Have a listen, and you’ll understand better what I’m talking about.
Brené talks about the quote by Theodore Roosevelt that she discovered after her first TED talk went viral. This is what it says:
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….[who] if he fails, he at least fails while daring greatly.
That quote changed Brené’s life, and it has begun to change mine.
Picture this: You’re standing in the middle of a massive arena. The stands are full, and the people are making lots of noise—some encouraging, others laughing and tearing you down.
You turn inward and close your eyes. The roar of the crowd fades away, and you can hear yourself breathing and feel your heart beating. You’re scared, because you’re so open and exposed. But at the core, you feel strong and real and brave, because you’re DOING what you are meant to do.
You open your eyes and feel the sun on your face. You smile, because this is what it feels like to be alive.
I had moments like that this week. And honestly, as scary as it is to let your voice be heard, it’s scarier (as Brené says) to live your whole life wondering what would have happened had you had the courage to show up. I have found that when I have the courage to do something I have felt inspired to do, good things always come of it, and my life and those of others are more rich and authentic and fulfilling.
By and large, the comments, at least the ones directed to me personally through Facebook and my blog, have been so positive and kind. Yes, there were people who were negative and critical (“Go and ask a guy out for a change,” “Get out of Utah and stop living your life under a rock”), but they are dealing with their own issues, and I wish them the best. But for all the people who said it touched them and renewed their hope that there are good things in store for them—that post was for you, and if it touched even one person, it was worth it. All the extra is just a bonus, and I’m so grateful for everyone who has reached out to show their appreciation over the past few weeks. Thank you.
So what now? Well, I’m going to keep writing, and the influence of that post continues to be felt. It has been translated into Portuguese (if you would like to translate it into another language, please comment below), I’m going to be interviewed by Mormon Channel on Wednesday, and I’ve been asked to speak in my stake conference in a couple of weeks. I still get scared sometimes, but I’m going to carry on.
And if I fail, at least I’ll fail daring greatly.