There was a time when I would get really uncomfortable when I felt that “someone didn’t like me.” I’d agonise for ages about it. Sometimes I’d broach it with them feet first. “Have I done something to upset you?” Almost always, the question would be met with bafflement. They were working through their own shit. My pathetic desire for approval wasn’t even registering. But I’m thinking about it today because I’ve noticed an internal shift. It’s partly as a result of my daily public writing that this shift has come about. So I thought it right to share it with you.
I’ve pissed off some people, over the years. I’ve rubbed them up the wrong way. I awkwardly attacked someone personally on a blog, later redacted. I’ve behaved unkindly towards people I felt were self serving narcissists. But every story has two sides. Every individual is on their own journey. Tristan is a good example. I disliked him for years and he won’t mind me saying that – (i checked). Now he’s one of my closest friends. My journey has taken me to a shrug point. I noticed it the other day. “Oh. X person is a little strange around me. There must be some poison from Y person. Shrug.” Some years ago I’d have mined a conversation, tried to get to the poison, tried to dig it out or understand it better. Recently I’ve shifted. Let them not like me if they don’t want to like me. The world is full of people. It’s not my job to be liked by the lot, even if it would open some remarkable financial opportunities if I was. Look at Tom Hanks.
What’s my job? It’s not to dress up in stupid clothes and have fun. That’s a byproduct. The mechanics involve being fearless, sometimes in front of crowds of strangers, sometimes in a quiet place full of expensive equipment and technical people. The job of the front, which I suppose is my job, is to try to lead by example and make change. You can stand fearlessly in front of any crowd if you categorically know that you have a purpose in being there. I know my purpose so I’m never concerned anymore. I’m an artist, and my material is people. I have to hold – to quote that little known dead guy from Stratford – a mirror up to nature. Even if I’m doing ridiculous corporate stuff in a crinoline it’s worth trying to hit some truthnotes. Honour the writer, find the humanity, don’t complicate it with your personal shit, collaborate with your company, make it the best it can be, share it with all and sundry, go to the pub.
Nowadays even the word “like” has been co-opted by social media. Likes have become currency. Because engagement is value, according to the vacuous twatbaskets who go to conferences about Facebook and speak in acronyms. And I’ve subscribed to that in the past. I’m aware that the fewer people click “like” on my blog the fewer people the algorithm throws this nonsense at. But does it really matter? I could bombard you with hashtags every post, I could pointedly link in issues that are being googled lots. But that wouldn’t satisfy me.
I’m not here to be liked. I’m here. Constantly seeking approval is for children. We all need to grow up a bit if we’ve got sucked into that trap by the Zuckerburgers. It’s okay to pursue your own agenda and not howl out for love. Be kind. Be present. And remember that people are working through their shit too.
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