I know it’s spectacularly unpopular to quote those crazy Middle Easterners in this day and age, but y’all have me thinking of Gibran.
You remember his wise words about children?
And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, “Speak to us of Children.”
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
My friends, it’s best if you think of ideas this way as well.
Your ideas are not you.
I know it’s hard to accept this, especially when you can so deftly wrap yourself in words carefully chosen, and let that package go into the world bearing a bit of your soul.
But that’s not you. Those are just some ideas you have and that you’ve shared. They are special and precious but they are not you.
Which brings me to my next point.
Why do we share ideas?
I mean, specifically, why do we share ideas here at Tiny Cat Pants?
To stimulate interesting discussions.
Look, I write shit all the time and I can bet you that half the time NM or Bridgett or Exador or Sarcastro is going to step in and say, “I think you’re off the mark. Did you consider this?” and I have to admit that I didn’t or I didn’t even know about it.
Does that mean that folks who disagree with my ideas don’t like me as a person? No it does not.
What, then, is a successful interaction? When you have furthered the conversation. If the conversation halts, you have failed to have a successful interaction.
But, if you say something and the conversation keeps going? If someone jumps in and wants to argue with what you’ve said? If they want to pick it apart and look at the nuance?
Hello, readers, listen: that is a tremendous compliment. People’s time and their thoughts are valuable. If they turn their time and attention to you, it is because they see something valuable there, something worth discussing, something of worth.
Is it hard to be that open to scrutiny? Yes, it is and, if you’ve not put enough distance between yourself and your ideas, it can feel like a deeply personal attack. But, I implore you to see it as the compliment it is.
So, to recap:
No one is attacking you as a person; they are discussing your ideas, which are not you, and once they’re out there in the world, only tenuously belong to you. The fact that people are engaged with your ideas, no matter how weird it feels to have your ideas under that kind of scrutiny, is not anything other than a great compliment.
You will be happier here and happier in the world if you come to accept that.