I just read some advice from a person who gives advice to freelance writers.
It went something along the lines of what to do when your readers look you up online and find something “less than flattering,” and how we can “make damaging online content disappear.”
Really? I thought. Disappear?
What could be so damaging that I would want it to disappear? What’s the problem if someone “finds out” what it is?
I did it.
It’s part of who I am. It’s me.
Wow. What an attitude to take. It screams “Don’t learn from your mistakes, hide them instead.”
There is no doubt that I have made many of those so-called mistakes in my life. I say “so-called” because some of them I didn’t consider mistakes while others did.
But that doesn’t matter, really.
What matters is that I’ve lived a long life. Along the way I’ve made decisions that were based on no information or experience at all and went down some misguided, ugly paths.
I’ve also made unfortunate choices that, were I to be faced with those same choices today, I probably wouldn’t make again. That being said, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today had I not made those exact misguided decisions and those very same, unfortunate choices.
I wouldn’t have learned enough from what I did then to know better now.
There’s garlic in this sauce that has become my life and there’s no taking the garlic out of it.
In fact, I wouldn’t want to. It’s the taste, the spice, the nuance and even the overpowering flavor that makes this sauce what it is. Try to take away the garlic and what would you be left with?
Something you can find on a shelf that looks like every other thing on the shelf and that’s designed to please a lot of people at the same time. Something that would have a long shelf-life but wouldn’t have character, individuality, or a flavor all its own.
And that certainly is not me.
No. I don’t agree with learning how to make the “less than flattering” things a person might find if they Google me look flattering. I don’t want flattery in any of its permutations to even be part of my life.
I’m not a politician.
Jokes aside, I believe in owning up.
I believe owning up to your mistakes and to your “wrongdoings” is the way that, in the end, draws others to you.
Owning up to what I have done gives me the opportunity to say, “I’m sorry. I did that. It was unkind and thoughtless of me. I wasn’t thinking of anybody but myself and I shouldn’t have done it.”
It gives me the chance to make amends.
I have found that in the end, owning up makes great friends of children I have made mistakes with, husbands I have made mistakes with, and any other people, places, things or jobs I have made mistakes with.
It also takes away the shame.
After all, there’s nothing to be ashamed of anymore if you stand right outside that closet door and invite all those skeletons to come on out and show themselves.
So, I don’t support any advice on how to make things you’ve done look more flattering.
To be honest, if I were giving advice to freelance writers I would tell them not to be afraid of anything that any reader found out about them online.
I’d tell them that I think my readers—in fact all the people in my life—want to know the real me, with all my warts and all my flaws and all my humanness. They want me to stand up and own the garlic and then share with them what I have learned.
Even if the way I learned it was from doing something “less than flattering.”
Author: Carmelene Siani
Editor: Catherine Monkman; Caitlin Oriel
Image: Stas Svechnikoc/Unsplash