Subjectivity in the workplace

Recently, I had yet another self-doubt experience. (For another recent post on this issue, check out Amy Trueblood's post over at Operation Awesome, here.) 

Things were going pretty well. I was in contact with PIAO's audiobook narrator and knew it was close to completion; and I had just contacted an editor (yay) about a project I've been working on for quite a while. This editor contact thing is actually a big deal to me, because up to this point, the cost of actually getting to *have* an editor was not an option. So here I was, excited about taking the next step to get what needed to be done, when something came along and knocked me back down into the self-doubt hole.

We writers, well... sometimes it doesn't take much, does it? One comment, correction, finger point, bit of unsolicited opinion or advice (or even solicited, sometimes), and if it comes at just the wrong time (of day or week or month or MS edit or whatever), it can feel like a swift kick to the gut. I've found the times I'm most affected are when I'm doing great, and then something I didn't expect arrives. 

But isn't it always unexpected? Right. Okay, moving on. 

So here's the deal. I'm going to be blunt about it. I've said it before and I will say it again (and I think it all the time): the entire point of art and writing and books and music and movies and TV shows, even, is subjectivity. No one will EVER like all of the same things and there are a whole heck of a lot of us in this world which means there are a whole heck of a lot more opinions, too. 

See, it's easy to allow those thoughts to poke fun at you and make you think you're a failure. Or, tell you you should just quit already. That's what happened to me. 

Morning? Me: Up at the top. 

Noon? Me: Up at the top. 

Eight that evening? Me: Beneath the doormat of the most busy building in the world. 

And the whole "put on yer big girl panties" or "just get over it" stuff doesn't make me feel any better, therefore I never use them. It's not about being tough all the time (to those who think so, sorry, but no). It's not about ignoring them, either (impossible, ask anyone). It's not about not caring, though you do kind of have to get to that point somewhat (a very hard thing). But it's mostly about remembering that every single person's opinion is subjective.

Case in point: there are soooooo many situations where people rant and rave about a book and I just cannot understand what the big deal is. I'm like, WHAT AM I MISSING? I can't be the only one, here. I know this happens to other readers AND writers alike. People are gushing about something and I won't get why they like the character, or the writing, or how they can talk badly about such and such author's writing/world/whatever and then like this person's so much when the former is obviously so much worse than the latter. I will never understand why some books are liked (or hated), and that's okay. Which should make it easier to flip everything around and see it that way from the author's point of view but sadly, a lot of times, that's not what happens. But the truth is, not everyone is going to like everything, including me. Do you know what I was hearing that day? When this thing came at me and I went from being at the top to feeling like dirt? 

"People are just nice to you because you're nice. They don't like your writing. They feel sorry for you. They're nice because there's nothing else they can do because they hate your writing. You suck and this whole thing is a joke and you might as well stop wasting your time."

Yep. That's what I started to hear. And I'm not naive -- this very well could be true and some people may totally feel that way about me in real life. But it doesn't matter because, ready (flip from the reader to the author again)? Everything is subjective.


  [suhb-jek-tiv]  Show IPA
existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought (opposed to objective ).
pertaining to or characteristic of an individual; personal;individual: a subjective evaluation.
placing excessive emphasis on one's own moods, attitudes,opinions, etc.; unduly egocentric.
Philosophy relating to or of the nature of an object as it isknown in the mind as distinct from a thing in itself.
relating to properties or specific conditions of the mind asdistinguished from general or universal experience.

Everything in those definitions points to individual experiences, thoughts, responses, moods, and so on. 

Potato potah-to. Tomato tomah-to. Half empty, half full. 

The self-doubt is going to rear its ugly head here and there simply because it can. The question is, will we wallow in it and allow it to take away everything we've loved and worked for, or will we point it to the door and tell it to get the heck out?


Jessica S said...

I completely feel your pain. I just started my business back up about a month ago, and all those lovely self-doubt feelings are starting to rear their ugly heads again.

It took me years to gain confidence in my writing and editing abilities, and after I finally did, my business took off. I had so many clients, I had to start turning some away.

Now, I'm just getting up and running again, and since clients are just pouring in, I'm like, "What the heck is wrong with me?" I'm doubting my writing, my social media skills, my blog, my website, my editing skills... I just feel like it's starting to all come crashing down on me. I know most of it is in my head, but I'm like you... I can't just tell myself, "Oh, just suck it up. Put on yer big girl panties and deal with it." Ugh.

Well, I officially vented. I guess I feel better. LOL

Jessica L. Brooks (coffeelvnmom) said...

I hope you do feel better, Jessica! Honestly, sometimes that's all we need is to voice those fears and worries instead of letting them run through our brain on a loop--and then we really do feel better! And I hear you, it's almost as if the moment things start going well, our natural instincts are to question WHY that is. :( That's why I said it's better to tell it to get the heck out--to say "I'm not going to accept this, it is not who I am. Goodbye, doubts!" than to say "I am not supposed to feel this way... I'm being dumb..." The latter just adds more guilt and frustration!

Here's to you having a WONDERFUL time with your business! :)

Jessica S. said...

Thanks. :)