One of the most difficult things to do as a creative person is moving from creation to sharing. I don’t mean sharing with your friends, family, or writing group (if you are a writer)… I’m talking about actually putting yourself out there. To strangers. Whether this means sending items out for publication, hanging your art in a gallery, self-publication, keeping a blog, or just going to a small, local poetry reading.

Tonight I will be reading at a local event. I’ve read there before a few times, but I’ve been out for a while. The difficulty for me lies in my social anxiety and certain double standards ingrained into me. On the one hand, I like my work. I think it’s good enough to share. On the other, I have a combination of social anxiety (will people like me after I share this or that controversial piece), fear of rejection (what if people boo me or don’t like my work), and an ingrained “modesty” bit (I’m never allowed to think of myself or anything I do as good, that determination can only be made by others, anything else is pride or hubris).

Needless to say, all of these mental issues swirling around make it very difficult for me to put myself out there. Perhaps the most damaging of the mental standards is thinking only other people can determine my worth. It’s a damaging way to live, and ultimately unfulfilling. I live on compliments. When someone compliments me I’m allowed, just for a moment, to think of myself in a positive light.

I’ve been published. Two of my poems were publish during my last year of college in Northwest Boulevard, an annual publication of poetry and short stories. The only reason I was published is because my creative writing teacher strongly encouraged me to put myself out there and try for it. I was simultaneously surprised and thrilled when two of my poems were chosen for publication.

You would think this success would encourage me to try more, send more stuff out for publication… nope. Almost the opposite effect. Since my first real attempt at publication was a success, I am now even more terrified of my work being rejected. The mental reasoning behind this is “my work has been published… if I get rejected now, it nullifies that.” I know it’s silly, even idiotic, but I can’t get around feeling like that.

I have submitted for publication before and since that success, but have received rejection slips each time. On the one hand, every author I know say to expect at least 10 rejections for every success (so I should expect a good 20 rejection slips before anything else is even close to accepted), but for some reason I feel I need to be the exception to the rule. Even J.K. Rowling was rejected over a dozen times before the Harry Potter series was accepted for publication.

So for those who tell me to put myself out there more: I’m trying, really!

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