As I move the mouse pointer across the screen, I feel apprehension seep from my core and out into my extremities. I take a deep breath, press my finger down, hear the dull “click,” and see the words “post published” appear at the bottom left of the screen. I close the computer’s lid, hiding from the results, or more likely, the lack of results, and think to myself, “one percent…one percent.” I exhale as a bit of cortisol exits my bloodstream.
Many people don’t know this, but I’ve always been wildly self-conscious, very easily embarrassed, and tend to shrink under the spotlight. I’m proud of how far I’ve progressed on this issue, but I still have a lot of work to do.
Even now, I can easily open up to individuals or small groups, but every now and then, when I get in front of larger groups, something changes. I feel their judgment—real or imagined—like a black veil that slowly envelopes me and constricts me from being my whole, genuine self. Then, the “benign” tremor that I was diagnosed with as a teenager suddenly isn’t so benign, as it quadruples in intensity until I’m visibly shaking. It’s humbling.
It’s irrational, but for me, the feeling I get when I hit the publish button on these blog posts is no different than when I’m standing on stage.
In many ways, my life is a contradiction. I feel the need to create and share ideas, but I’m terrified to do it. I know my words will be imperfect, and even if they were perfect, many people would still dislike or disapprove of them.
Of course, I would prefer to have a message that is wholly acceptable to humanity, but I know it isn’t possible. The idiosyncrasies of human taste, preferences and beliefs are too broad and varying for one message to reach all people. And even if one message could reach all of humanity, it would be diluted, having to kowtow to the extremes of ignorance while also providing something of value to those at the pinnacle of wisdom. Impossible.
Knowing this, I have to accept that everything I write is guaranteed to have a sizable group of people who dislike, disapprove, or possibly even hate it. Obviously, this is troubling for someone like me, with a propensity to be embarrassed and shrink under the judgments of others.
So, is there any hope for those like me? Or are we doomed to keep our creations hidden away like a hoarder, our minds overflowing with ideas that will never be useful to others?
Luckily, I believe there’s a way forward. One helpful trick is to reframe the whole situation. I like to ask myself the question, “What would happen if 99% of people hated what I wrote and 1% loved it?”. Well, if somehow I reached the entire globe, that would mean that 79 million people loved my work. That’s a hell of a lot of people, and I think 1 out of 100 people liking my work is an achievable target.
With this framing, the shy artist can change the rules of the game. Instead of focusing on the 99%, we emphasize reaching more and more of the 1% that will be positively affected by our creations. And if we could wave a magic wand and actually connect with 1% of the entire globe, can you imagine what that like-minded group could achieve together? I think it’s fair to say that they could change the world.
When you think about things this way, 99% disapproval sounds pretty good.
So, are you one of the 99%? I appreciate your time; I know it’s scarce. Or maybe you are part of the 1%? If so, and you think you may know another person in the 1% who would benefit from this post, please pass it along to them.
As always, thank you so much.
P.S. — I can’t begin to explain how grateful I am for every person who reads this. I would really love to hear if this triggered any thoughts for you, whether good or bad. Did I swing and miss on this post? Let me know. Did this post make you think about some aspect of life differently? I’d love to hear it. I am on a journey of self-improvement, so your feedback is priceless. Also, if you know anyone who may enjoy this, please feel free to send it along to them. Lastly, you can subscribe to get notified whenever I publish something new by clicking here. Many thanks for your time and attention, and best wishes on your life’s journey.
10 Replies to “Seeking 99 Percent Disapproval”
Do not worry about likes or dislikes, offer a way forward which has been thought of / told by someone else or complete what has been done by others / never had the chance to finish or time they were living in did not allow them .
Thank you for the thoughts Mo! My focus right now is to try and bring value to a small group of people. Just sharing ideas that excite or interest me. Thanks again!
Delighted to see this, Andrew! Will read tomorrow and respond. Marcus
And I’m delighted to see your words here, Marcus! I would love to hear your feedback.
Auntie Peg here.
I have the same issue and have known I had it since high school.
Sometimes I still freeze when I need to call someone – will I be able to speak coherently? Will they be able to answer my question or understand my point. I have learned to take a deep breath and just do it.
I still feel awkward walking into a room with people – particularly if I don’t know very many already. I keep doing it but it is hard.
Public speaking is frightening. I usually feel like I embarrass myself if I have to do it – I shake and tremble inside.
Maybe it’s a Ryan thing?
But you are not alone and I hope you get more than 1 percent who enjoy your words
Love and hugs
I’ve read in a handful of locations that public speaking is the number one fear of humans, which is pretty irrational but interesting. I’m thankful that I’ve had to do it enough to learn some systems that work for me, but it’s still always challenging. #1 for me is that I really have to know my content. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you are faking it on stage.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read/comment! You are the best.
Keying this from the perspective of a feverish one percent-er, I appreciate your initiative to create dialogue about these thought-provoking topics. I look forward to combining forces and to keeping our ego in check as we proceed to question, to instill some decency among our fellows. Ah.
That sounds like a very worthy plan my friend! Many great adventures and tales ahead.
Sarah and I read your essay today while we had lunch at Cafe Degas. We both recognized you in your diffidence. My view is that this piece is a necessary and useful “throat clearing” and I look forward to hearing your voice again engaging some issues that are important to your head and heart. Bravo, Andrew!
I can’t thank you and Sarah enough for taking the time to read it. And I hope your prediction that this was a proper “throat clearing” proves true. I have countless half
-completed writings and I’m trying to trust the process, knowing I will improve as I write more, publish more, and receive more feedback. I always appreciate your thoughts!