Seeking Approval Finds Me Lost
How social media, approval from others, and the desire to"find your tribe" threaten small beginnings of ideas.
As I sit at my keyboard, planning to write from my piled up list of topics for leadwithgrace.net, I sigh and type and delete and sigh and type again. I approach this writing today wrapped in a whole lot of grace. Perhaps in the upcoming days or weeks, I will decide to delete or edit or add or update. But for now, I hope to voice my honest experience that I think others feel too but do not always express. I want to put language to it because I worry that it threatens ideas in their spring of their youth when they are fragile and beginning to sprout from under the cover of spots of cold, icy snow. It is March. And while March 4th has passed, and I have tried to heed that advice of the only day of the year that provides a clear directive, I have found myself feeling lost.
I pause to check Instagram. No new likes from the post I made last night. I noticed that one of my new followers has removed her following of me shortly after I followed her back. She sent me a pleasant message: "thanks for the follow!" This is a new world for me in the public social media sphere for business, and I can't help but feel a bit used and played simply to add a number to someone else's follower total. Now as a new blogger, I am learning about strategies for engagement and how to utilize social media to grow your audience and "find your tribe." The reality of this sphere though for me is like walking a fine line. One side lies like-minded people who can inspire and support each other, but the other side lies validation from an audience to provide a rubber stamp of approval. Where in my other spheres of life I thought I was past the need for approval, is this venture different? Does the
public nature of writing, communication, and supporting others necessitate a certain level of "approval?" Is the lack of more likes, followers, or views of articles a sign that the message is off or the audience not there or the entire process not worth doing? Should I stop and sit down and tighten my circle back to include only those I can see and connect with in live space and time? As these questions float through my mind and my fingers fly across the keys, I can't help but think how different I would feel with outside validation.
We seek the approval of others because as long as we think someone else feels good about us, it allows us to feel that way about ourselves as well." Guy Finley
Writer Guy Finley, writes that "we seek the approval of others because as long as we think someone else feels good about us, it allows us to feel that way about ourselves as well." Am I looking for outside approval because I am not allowing my own approval of myself in this venture of leadwithgrace? I have written more this past month than in the past couple years combined. I learned programs and researched and read and took bold action of buying a domain and building a website. For someone who has had frustrations using the remote control to switch between the xbox, netflix, and directv, I consider the tech piece an accomplishment in and of itself. Well-done.
I read what I have just wrote, and I want to delete it. Will it sound like bragging? Or will it show my limitations to the world? Is the tone of my reflection off and not in the spirit of leadwithgrace as celebrating and encouraging others? Too self-centered? The vulnerability of the written word scares me. But in order to try to reveal more pieces in the whole story of leadership, I want to share these uncomfortable feelings too. I think it is this feeling that stops people before they even get started. I feel it stopping me. I have not reached out to people who inspire me to be interviewed for the blog or for the podcast because I don't want to waste their time until I have a "following." We seek approval because it is scary to be putting yourself out there when maybe no one specifically asked you to. You are out in the cold, breaking through the ice with a tiny beginning of an idea, green and young and fragile, an idea that you want to nurture and grow, one that you think comes from a good place of honesty and truth and love and care.
"You are out in the cold, breaking through the ice with a tiny beginning of an idea, green and young and fragile, an idea that you want to nurture and grow, one that you think comes from a good place of honesty and truth and love and care."
I began this venture with uncertainty, yes, but also with excitement and joy. The goal is not to have followers or likes or views. In fact, while I recognize that by definition a leader needs to have a follower in order to be a leader, I don't even think I am the leader here in this entire process. I never was. Grace is. The still, small voice of grace leads me to write and share my own story through the messy process of trying to learn and grow and listen and act and reflect.
“Our desire for approval can only truly be met by receiving God's acceptance and approval of us." Joyce Meyer
In order for me to regain the spirit and fun of adventure, I am letting go of the approval of others, even if that means I am not serving an audience or "finding my tribe." It has been said that "a life spent seeking approval of others is a life spent without joy." I do not want to lose the joy around the things that bring me the most passion. There is freedom and power and beauty (and maybe even leadership) in living out your joy. No one needs to witness the dance. Perhaps, I am a parade of one right now. But a parade of one can still be a celebration.