It was the harshest thing anyone had ever said to me:
You are worried about what people are thinking about you? Newsflash. People are not thinking about you. They are out there living their lives. If you do something to register on the mental radar of others, you might register as “Freak of the Week,” but you don’t even warrant that much for 99.99 percent of the population. More like “Freak of the Day” or “Freak of the Hour.” You are not the center of everyone’s universe.
Growing up in the southeast of the United States, I was reared to believe that social death was worse than actual death. Hardwired fear of social failure was inhibitive for this aspirational writer.
This message that people were not thinking about me near as much as I believed broke the spell of fear that held me back from sharing my writing and served as a gateway to my freedom.
I was overwhelmed with relief and had a deliriously liberating belly laugh.
Later, it became a litmus test for taking risks regarding putting my thoughts into the universe. When I felt resistance, I reminded myself that the worst thing that could happen is that I might be considered the Freak of the Week—putting a time limit on the potential impact made the risk seem manageable.
Just a week? That’s not very long to be considered a freak—something to be tolerated.
If things don’t turn out well, I could place it in the bucket of life experiences that are later drawn on as material for future stories.
Question: What’s the worst that could happen if I submit this article for live editing at Friday’s class?
Answer: I could be considered Freak of the Week.
Question: What’s the best thing that could happen if I submit this article for live editing at Friday’s class?
Answer: It could resonate with another person who is able to step over their fear and submit their words for publication.
Over time, Freak of the Week developed into a tier system:
>> Level Three: Freak of the Week.
At risk for major stumbles—potential consequences high.
>> Level Two: Freak of the Day.
At risk for moderate missteps—potential consequences moderate.
>> Level One: Freak of the Hour.
At risk for random misadventures—potential consequences low.
Now, the tier system serves as shorthand among writer friends in response to the question, “What are you working on?”
My response this week was, “I’m working on a couple of Twos and one Level Three.”
The follow-up questions from writer friends were all about the Level Three. We don’t even mention the Level One’s anymore. We just take the leap.
Your words are treasures. If fear is preventing you from submitting an article, ask yourself the question, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”