There is a tendency, a tornado-force pull, that I have to continuously resist in my life. It is the one that draws me, somewhat trance-like, to adapt who I am and what I do in order to garner the most praise, the highest marks, the most promotions, the best position, and let's face it, to ultimately feel more approved, appreciated, and loved. It never delivers, just so you know.
The more comments and traffic I get on my blog or on my facebook page, the more I find myself tempted to think along the lines of: what will get a reaction, what are people wanting to hear, what can I present that will make a splash? A few kind comments offered to me are appetisers that make me want more. I am only human, I admit it.
When a professor exclaims, "Excellent!" over a remark I offer in class, I subconsciously approach every subsequent assignment on the lookout for the obscure, fresh, and slightly edgy, angle. I want to stand out, to rise above the ordinary, to come up with something that no one has ever said before. What arrogance this exhibits, and what bad study methods it encourages.
It is the curse of any artist or creative person who fears that there may never be another creative burst; it makes them rely on reproducing what they have seen peopel react to instead of doing the hard work of developing what is alive and unique inside them. The infamous disappointing sophomore CD is testament to this tendency. It is also the plight of those of us who, like suckling adolescents, remain attached to the teat of outside approval instead of maturing into confident and peaceful people who are content with simply presenting ourselves as who God has made us to be.
I have been encouraged to market my creative writings and projects and frankly, the thought scares me a bit. I don't know that I am strong enough to remain authentically "Matte" while I navigate the maze of market-driven ideas, niche-marketing, marketing strategies, name branding, and product placement.
I am a lover of simplicity, a fan of an uncomplicated life and faith. I love the drama of life's journey and discovering all the amazing angles that experiences can be viewed from. Most of all, I do really like who God has made me to be and want to fully express that. If people enjoy it, that is a bonus! If they don't understand it, let me continue to develop my ability to be more clear and accessible. If they disagree with me or discount what I say, then so be it. Perhaps I have something to learn from them in the process.
By admitting my appetite for admiration, I hope to be able to accept it for what it is (inconsistent) and spend my energy on pursuing truth and love instead. By having the bait of a marketing plan dangled in front of me, I choose to be propelled into a more solid devotional and contemplative life that grounds me in God. By hearing encouraging comments from my peers and respected teachers, I know that I have something worthwhile to offer, and I determine never, ever to let anything compromise the clear, distinct, and generous voice that has been planted within me. Let the original Voice in the universe be the only tornado that I ever succumb to. This is my vocation.
These are some strawberries just being strawberries, better than strawberry-flavoured anything any day.