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Friday, July 20, 2012

The Need to Please

Despite my public persona, I am actually a fairly private person. I'm happy to share all the superficial happenings in my life with all my fans, friends, and followers, but I tend not to talk about the deep stuff. I'm more likely to post a picture of a cute cat :-)

But something happened this week that I thought many of you  might be able to identify with, so I thought, for a change, I'd share some of the scary stuff that goes on inside the "real" Deborah Blake. The person, as opposed to the author.

It really was such a small thing. I came to look at the blog and noticed that I had dropped from 217 followers down to 214 overnight. Such numbers are relatively meaningless. After all, the blog has almost 40,000 total page views (something that boggles my mind, frankly!); I've got over 2,000 followers on Facebook and almost 1,400 on Twitter. And really, what do those numbers mean in real life? Do they translate to more sales of my books? Do they actually mean that people find me interesting or amusing? Who knows? In other words, going from 217 to 214 means nothing, in the greater scheme of things.

Except, of course, inside my own head.

My immediate gut response to seeing that drop in numbers (where they had only ever increased before, albeit slowly) was to think: Oh, no--what did I do wrong? Did I say something that offended people? Am I getting boring or repetitive? Doing too much promo? Not posting enough cat pictures? Posting too many cat pictures?

My head spun around those questions for a couple of days. I thought probably I wasn't blogging often enough. Maybe I should be talking about more personal stuff. Or less personal stuff. The big question was: what could I do to make my readers happy...so they'd like me?

Any of this sound familiar to anyone else?

The scary part about all of this was how much those three missing people rocked my interior landscape. They'd tripped one of my own personal triggers: the need to please. The fear of not being liked. Not being good enough. Not being wanted.

It's no secret where all of this stuff comes from. I was an extremely unpopular child. The weird kid in school that nobody liked. Too shy and timid to do anything about it. And I had a very critical and angry parent whose expectations I could never meet. (Not to worry--we have a great relationship now. *waves hi to Dad* And he is, ironically, one of the loudest members of my cheering section. But that's now, and things were very different then.)

At 52, I have mostly put those issues behind me. I am blessed with an abundance of amazing friends, and some of the best fans and online "pals" that anyone could ask for. I may not be everyone's cup of tea, but there are plenty of folks who think I'm reasonably nice, and interesting, and fun to hang out with.

And yet...the loss of three--count them, THREE--followers sent me into a tailspin of self-questioning and doubt.

In the end, my wiser adult self prevailed, thankfully. And I shrugged and said, "Oh, well, you can't please all of the people all of the time." And I guess I'll just keep doing what I was doing, and hope that you will continue to take the journey with me.

But if you ever feel the need to please, and the fear of not being liked, I just wanted to say: I get you. Me too.

And just for the record--I REALLY like everyone who comes here. Thank you so much for reading, for following (if you do), and for sharing this space with me. It makes that shy, unpopular girl pretty damned happy.


  1. I completely get it. I've felt the same way when losing followers. (And had a very similar childhood.) It has taken years to put the people-pleaser part of me aside. I still flinch when I think someone is upset with me, but I don't let it ruin my day anymore.

    I'm glad you posted this. I think many people can relate!


    1. Rue,
      *hugs to you*
      I'm glad it's not just me :-)

      It's the learning not to flinch I still have to work on...

  2. Been there. A lot. Still go there. A lot. It's great that you were able to take yourself away from there. Good for you!

    I'm glad you posted it, too. It's always good to see that "other people are like me, too".

    1. I think so too. And I know sometimes when you don't know people except in a superficial online kinda way, there is a tendency to think they are "not like me."

      I thought it might be nice (albeit perhaps disappointing to some) to find out, in fact, I am.

    2. Funny how we seem to find each other, isn't it?

  3. Not sure if this will help or not, especially as I don't follow anyone -- I manually click on blogs that interest me. But sometimes people go through phases where they decide they're spending too much time on the internet -- regardless of good the blogs or tweets are. So, they might just unfollow because of that. Has nothing to do with you. I do that periodically. I wipe out ALL my bookmarks. So, I'm wondering if that was the case with the 3 who unfollowed you. They just needed to regroup and it wasn't personal.

    Susanne, who sees 50 sides of everything :)

    1. Once I got over the initial "OMG, it's me, what did I do?" reaction, I thought of a bunch of stuff like that. There may be automatic "cleaning up" cycles, for all I know, where Blogger removes the names of anyone who hasn't logged in for a year, or something. And honestly, I often follow blogs that I still rarely get to. The 37,000 pages views are a LOT more significant.

      And still don't mean that anyone likes me...maybe they are all lost :-)

  4. You're pretty darned popular with me, Deb! Big hugs and lots of love!

  5. Honestly, I think we all struggle with this from time to time, some of us probably more than others. Good for you that you recognized hwat was going on with your reaction and got over it.

    1. Karen,

      I suspect you're right. I always look at other people and think they are less insecure or concerned about how others view them...but maybe they're just not blogging about it in public :-)

  6. Deb: I have a blog but I have ZERO followers! So I figured NO ONE read my blog, until last time I added something new, the stats said I'd had 20,000 reads. WELL!! I was happy then....but I still have no followers...."Through the Peacock's Eye"

  7. Ooh it's scary how similar we sound in so many ways, even to being the same age.
    I've found my self-confidence finally, at least in my main profession (dressage horse trainer) since reaching top of the tree in the UK as a judge, but in my writing life? Hmm. I'm fine about my non-fiction titles (profession-related of course) which sell steadily and gets lots of nice reviews and comments, but my fiction is still unsold. As per advice, I'm starting to build my platform, especially on Twitter which I find a really super way of connecting and accessing fantasic sources of info, quite apart from making new friends.
    But those follower numbers: they go down as well as up! Many times I think I have no new followers because the number hasn't changed, then when I look it up I find I've maybe 10 new followers - so what happened to the 10 I lost???
    I try to connect, and to always thank people for following and for mentioning, to interact with as many as I can, but still some vanish.
    Disconcerting to say the least, especially when I hear that Twitter can randomly unfollow people from your account, and I know a number of my followers have re-followed after that happened.
    Technology! Great when it works.
    The Blog is my next step, soon to be up and running, I hope. Then I'm sure I will react like you over every reader who comes, then goes...
    The other Deborah

    1. Interestingly, the FB and Twitter numbers don't bug me at all. Maybe because they seem so whimsical. For whatever reason, the blog followers seem more personal..

      Still, I'm back to my usual "shrug" response, thankfully :-)

      Good luck with all your techno-socializing!

  8. I'm with you there. I'm like "like me like me please!" on the inside and frankly a lot of people just find me annoying...

    1. Shockingly enough, I suspect there are a few people who find me annoying, too.

      Personally, I find you quite charming!

  9. I know the feeling. But it's amazing how often it's not even a personal thing anyway. For example, I try to just follow people in one spot, because otherwise social networking takes up too much time. For example, though your blog is lovely and cats so cute, you're such a regular in bettyfacebookland that I feel like I *see you* there. And now that I've re-twittered myself, I see you there too, and will be alerted to Important Posts (like this one!)

    My dad and mum I follow on facebook. Some Betties I follow more on twitter, some more on blog, some on facebook, etc etc.

    All this to say, someone might have unsub'd to your blog, but they still follow you elsewhere. :-) [And no, it wasn't me.] Which is why we need to *not care* when this happens. Because we don't know the Why!