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.
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