Isn’t that always what people say? I write for myself. I sing for myself. I [insert passionate hobby here] for myself.
And that’s a perfectly good, valid reason for doing something; because you just plain enjoy it.
But most often the implication is that if you don’t write/ sing/ underwater basket weave for yourself, then you must be doing it for the trophies, blue ribbons and tummy rubs.
And that, as we like to say on APDA (American Parliamentary Debate Association), is a false dichotomy.
There are many, many reasons to do a thing and not all of them instantly make you a praisemonger.
Let’s talk about those other reasons. I might try to run a 10k because I enjoy the challenge and for the camaraderie of sharing the experience with friends. I might vote or support a grassroots program not for myself, but because I believe in a particular cause and hope to actually effect positive change in my community. I might try underwater basket weaving not for my own pleasure, but because it is the lifes work of my spouse whom I love dearly and want to support.
(In our house you could replace “underwater basket weaving” with “playing Magic the Gathering online” and it would be more true than you could possibly know.)
Point being, we are so afraid of having the “wrong” motivation that we don’t study our choices very carefully. There is a lot of interesting stuff we can learn about ourselves if we take a closer look. And occasion, we may actually be doing something for the praise.
Life goes on.
Last week I sang a duet at church... Because I like performing. Whatever. So shoot me. Otherwise why would anyone ever bother to publish a book, display a work of art, or put on a show? We’d all keeping our talents hidden in dark cabinets. Yes, I sing for myself because I enjoy singing, but if it was really only for myself, it would stay confined to my morning showers. Plus it also afforded me the opportunity to sing a duet– something I really enjoy and don’t often get to do.
And so, writing. I’m sure many people write for themselves and are very happy and fulfilled with that. Great. Awesome. Good for them. I, personally, find writing for myself about as interesting as trying to hold a conversation with a piece of drywall; if I really set my mind to it I’m sure I could do but then, why?
I really don’t write for myself. Yes, I enjoy the process of writing. Deeply and unreasonably. But ever since I was a wee lass filling little pink diaries with pages and pages of scrawled thoughts in sparkly purple gel pen, I’ve been finding ways to share that writing with other people– primarily handing people my little pink diaries without a word of explanation while they leafed through it in confusion. A blog is simply a less awkward and intrusive way of doing that. Publishing a book would be an even more effective way to do that. Because it’s me. My writing is me. And while being me is great, being me in a vaccuum gets old fast. I want to be me while I’m interacting with you, learning from you, talking to you, and sharing myself with you.
Way, way more fun. To me, the entire purpose of life lies in forging and maintaining meaningful relationships.
And even then, sometimes I do make decisions specifically designed to win that superficial attention. Shocking, I know. But I’m human. I try my best to do slightly better the next time. Rarely is motivation completely pure.
Maybe we could get a little more comfortable with being imperfect. Let’s start with the truth and try and improve from there.