Thursday, March 22, 2018

Letting go of "everyone"

"You do not need everyone. 
What you do or create isn't 
for or about 'everyone.' 
Finding those who are believers 
in what we believe is what matters.
~Seth Godin

Cindy La Ferle

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At a dinner party recently, some friends and I discussed a few topics that are creating a cavernous divide in our country. As it happens, those friends are kindred spirits who share my political and cultural views. That night, it was a comfort to be able to discuss volatile issues "in a safe place," as one put it.

We also agreed, later, that it's a shame we don't feel safe enough to have open, civil discussions with family and friends who don't see things the way we do. These days, we tip-toe around the hot-button topics and try to avoid offending others. Not easy.

In the midst of all this, I've grown to accept the reality that while we humans are created equal, we're not exactly alike. And most of us are proud of what makes us unique. We have different ethnic backgrounds, educations, vocations, values, religious beliefs, culinary tastes, lifestyles, personalities, and experiences -- all of which contribute to our individual character. 

No wonder we can't agree on every socio-political issue that's up for debate. 

Lately there's been a lot of talk about how Americans have become so tribal. I believe there's real danger in giving up the hope that we'll ever get along again -- but I also think it's unrealistic to ignore the fact that human beings are encoded to seek validation from like-minded folks. Just as I did last week at my friends' dinner party. Just as you do when you attend a particular church, cheer for your favorite baseball team, or volunteer for a cause you support.

We can't possibly be all things to "everyone" and it would be disingenuous to pretend otherwise. Which brings me around to the Seth Godin quote in today's post.

At one time or another, most of us have aimed to please everyone, or twisted ourselves into different shapes to fit in with people we admired or needed in some way. 

For instance, I used to spend hours writing columns and essays that would impress the majority of my readers -- or, at least, wouldn't hurt or offend them. To that end, I chose non-controversial topics, convincing myself that I was covering universal themes. I wanted people to like me and I wanted them to like my work. Of course, even then, I'd still get mail from readers who were put off by something I'd written. 

As Seth Godin suggests, it's not about "everyone." It's foolish to expect everyone to love what we do, what we create, or what we believe. The ultimate goal is to do what we do best, find the peeps with whom it will resonate, and try to coexist peacefully with others.  ~Cindy La Ferle

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