Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Fan Mail

On a junior high retreat, the nuns made us play a game that was supposed to build our self-confidence.

We each had to write our name on a piece of paper. Then our paper was randomly passed amongst our classmates. Each classmate had to write one word about the person whose name was on the paper. It had to be good and it had to be unique.

I was a pretty confident kid, and I figured I'd be called smart, intelligent, and maybe nice. But I couldn't begin to imagine what else people thought of me.

It was amazing how a group of preteen kids could end up so thoughtfully finishing this exercise. Even the weirdest kids in class, the ones who were teased or ignored, ended up with pages of words that really captured what was best about their personalities.

And I was floored to see what people thought of me. Yes, they called me smart, responsible, athletic and caring. But they also called me pretty, beautiful, witty, and funny. It had never occurred to me that anyone would even think twice about my appearance. I never did. And I had never thought of myself as funny. I thought of myself as a dork. I was okay with being a dork, but still.

Sometimes, I wish I could do that again. I wish I could pass around a sheet of paper with my name in red ink and see what people thought of me. Because egos are fragile things and they all need a boost sometimes.

But I think there is a danger in listening too hard to our biggest fans. They can inflate our egos until they float away. And we're left with a convoluted sense of our own importance.

Bloggers, myself included, are a perfect example of that.

I rarely, if ever, put people up on pedestals myself. Maybe it is because I am too competitive. Or maybe it is because I am too brutally honest to ever believe that someone can be so flawless, so completely wonderful that they need to stand above all others.

And I'm not so comfortable being put up on one myself. It's a long, hard fall down. And you know you're going to fall eventually.

Maybe it is good to check in with your biggest fans from time to time. You can take a mental measure of all the ways in which you totally rock, and then take it all with a grain of rock salt.

Yes, I think there is a danger in listening too hard to our biggest fans. But I love to do it anyway.

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