I can’t believe it, but I almost let a comment on Facebook shut me down. Me and my business.
I am a writer. No, I’m not Stephen King (yet), but I am a writer. I’ve always been a storyteller. When I started writing the stories down, things changed. My view of the world changed. My view of myself changed, for the better. When I read other people’s stories, real or fantasy, I am transported. And there is no better feeling. I live for the day that my writing has that effect on someone. I always hope that my writing will bring about some positivity in the world. Apart from needing to get the images out of my head and on to paper, that is why I write – in the hope of bringing about positive change.
In an instant, I almost lost that will. The drive, the gravity that keeps me in my seat until late hours of the night. That light flickered for a moment. Thanks to a Facebook comment.
But just for a moment. And then it was back.
I’ve tried to avoid social media ever since my run in with Myspace years ago. I was so hooked, that the only place I ever wrote anything was on that online social platform. That was great for a while, in a really closed off way.
Unfortunately, there are real trolls that have somehow escaped from under their bridges and now reside happily on the internet. They are in chat rooms and closed groups and they have a lot to say. Always negative. They built a kingdom online when no one was looking. And they are breaking things – people’s ideas, people’s will, people’s livelihood – with just a few comments. Anonymous venomous comments.
I always shake my head when I see it happening to someone else. I commend the people for standing up for themselves while remaining professional and even polite, wondering the whole time why can’t negative people leave positive people and their ideas alone. But anyone can say anything they want hiding behind their keyboard. With no regard for someone’s hard work or feelings or genuine concern about a subject. With no concern at all for the way they string together their words and shoot them at the screen.
Then it happened to me.
Professionalism and politeness grew wings and flew out the door. I’m no angel, not even close, but I sprouted horns in that moment. To say I was inflamed doesn’t really cover the spectrum of feelings that I experienced. And if I could have reached through the ether to grab a hold of this person, I probably would have. Probably, because I’ve never battled a troll before. Proceed with caution.
I have worked as an administrative assistant my entire life. I was always looking for a way to make a living out of writing. Memos, letters, and emails were not a part of my plan. I stopped working and went to an out of state university because of the writing program they offered. I graduated, with honors. I was in the best program on earth as far as I was concerned. Nothing could stop me with this kind of education backing me up.
Then the fear that rose up whenever I looked at the amount of the loans I had to pay back had me running right back to the office, working as admin again. After years of torture and suffering at the hands of evil bosses and wicked co-workers, I decided it was time. I spent a year learning about copywriting. I took every course, read every blog, followed every thought leader in the field. I narrowed down the kind of writing I would do, for what kind of company, and in which kind of field. Something positive of course. At least, I hoped.
Then I quit the 9 – 5. I left the job, the office politics, the pettiness, and time wasting behind. I was free to start my real career. I was going to put that writing degree and courses and blogs to work. But I froze. I hadn’t worked as a writer “officially” anywhere. Do I come up with tons of stories all the time? Did I spend a lot of time at writing groups sharing my work? Do I have a filing system with stories I’ve written and ideas for future stories? Yes, to all of the above. Did I take so many copywriting courses that I knew what to do before I even started? Yes. Or so I thought.
No amount of teaching and learning can prepare you for everything. There are some things you just have to learn as you go. And fantasy is not exactly the same as copywriting. So, there I was with my shiny new website, Facebook business page, and optimized Linked In page for all the world to see. And I froze. I thought people will see this and know that I haven’t written a million published pieces. They’ll know that I was an imposter.
I turned to one of several closed Facebooks groups that I was a member of thanks to all of the courses I’ve taken over the last year. I posed a simple question to the group. “Is it a good idea to advertise (for a lack of a better word) on LinkedIn with so few samples?” I received a lot of feedback. More than I expected, all of it positive. I got suggestions and ideas – no you shouldn’t, yes you should, that’s what I did. I read every view someone could have. That was exactly what I wanted. I needed a little understanding from people who had been through it or were going through it. And then the group troll threw her poison apple into the barrel of comments.
Apart from not understanding what “imposter syndrome” meant, it was mentioned in the comments by me and several people who responded, she went so far as to call me an imposter. “I think it’s misleading when you are in this career for the wrong reasons, knowing you are not really a writer. So many imposter writers out there.”
I wanted to run and hide. I felt like I needed to shut down my site, take down my Facebook business page, and re-work my LinkedIn profile – again. But I didn’t. I got angry.
Never mind figuring out how she got to this conclusion. But who is she to tell someone that they are trying to get into a career for the wrong reasons? I’d spent years being a writer and hiding it. The moment, the exact moment that I put myself out there and started owning it I got smacked by a person whose writing you can’t find online anywhere. She took the same course I did, after all. So why was the pedestal she put herself on so high?
It was a hard lesson at the beginning of my “dream job.” And it helped me to do one thing. I refocused on my goals. I am a writer. Facebook trolls, past co-workers, and awful bosses can not stop that. They can’t change that. I am no longer hiding. Not from social media, old jobs, or anyone. I will not allow Facebook comments to shut me down. I am a writer and I will continue to write.
*Photo by Max Bender on Unsplash