Want to know how to win friends and influence people? Write on the internet.
Want to know how to isolate yourself and acquire a collection of nationwide haters convinced you're an undercover rep for a multi-million dollar pharmaceutical company disguised as a mom with postpartum anxiety? Write on the internet.
If you would have told me a year ago I'd be writing for the likes of Huffington Post and Scary Mommy, I'd laugh in your face and then go home and Google how to get in with Huffington Post and Scary Mommy. Then I'd email them until they offered me login credentials.
True to my impatience, that's basically what I did--and it worked. Sort of. A few months ago, a glass of wine or two deep and likely deflated by a few Instagram unfollows (no, I don't have an app, but yes, I sometimes notice), I emailed Arianna Huffington an excerpt from an article I had written on epidurals (big crowd pleaser). And by the hilarious grace of God, Arianna Huffington emailed me back and said we'd like to feature your voice on our parenting page.
To say I lost my mind would do that moment no justice. The publication at the very top of my list--the one I was sure would make me a viral sensation, the sleeper hit of 2016--said yes to me. My voice, my words, my ideas. My bad jokes. My story.
And then, I lost my mind again. This time when I read the comments on that article. The one I thought would change the world. You just want attention, they said. Why do you need our approval so bad? they asked. If you really don't care what people think why do you need to write about this online? I mean, they had good points. I did want attention, a little bit. And HuffPost didn't even pick me-- I pushed.
As it turns out, the only big break I'd have online that go-round came in the form of a breaking point. It was like dancing on stage in my underwear in front of a million strangers. I shared something vulnerable, something I hoped would leak a little freedom into someone's life. Then, the internet cracked me open, and I got a pretty good look at what was inside. A girl who pushes to be picked, and sometimes aims her life at the people and things most likely to celebrate her. But wedged somewhere beneath that self-serving motive is a real desire to use what I've been given to help others.
So, what's next? Do I quit because there's some bad mixed in with my good? Do I resist the gritty work of platform building because there's a chance I might make much of myself? Sure, that'd be easy. But not without a price. When I resist the mess, I save myself some trouble, but I also miss out on the breakthrough that makes the story.
Here's what you'll learn when the internet stares back--if there's any story worth telling, it's hidden in that sliver of space where darkness becomes light. And it goes a little something like this:
Encounter hope. Lay it all out there for someone to find. Question your motives. Hit publish anyway. Acquire haters. Learn to trust yourself. Keep writing. Get big, maybe. Get small, no question. Grow your platform.
Grow your heart.