47 posts tagged work
This photo is basically my life.
I’ve got a story in UK Cosmopolitan this month, a reprint of an article I wrote last year for the Australian edition.
Not the first time one of my stories has been syndicated, but the first time one has been syndicated to a country where I can actually purchase the magazine. So yay.
Page 95, ‘The Rise of the iNarcissist.’ Here’s a taster:
The problem goes to the root of the way our brains are wired, says Dr Larry Rosen, author of iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession With Technology and Overcoming Its Hold On Us. Those Facebook “likes”, blog comments, and Twitter follows? All give us a shot of a little chemical named dopamine, which is associated with happiness.
“I love the rush when someone ‘likes’ a status or a photo,” says Ruby, 22. Amelia, 30, describes a “feeling of success” whenever someone responds to her on social media.
But the net can also make us anxious. What if no one comments on your blog post, or your Twitter crew all go out for drinks without you, or the girl you worked with after school in year 10 deletes you on Facebook? “Narcissism is an interesting combination of pleasure and anxiety,” says Rosen. “You get pleasure, obviously, out of people responding to you or telling you how great you are, but there’s also a lot of anxiety that they won’t respond, or that they’ll respond differently from how you might like.”
The internet allows us to control the way the rest of the world sees us like never before: you can be a model, an up-and-coming author, or a celebrity fashionista with a few strategically angled photographs and a well-written Twitter bio. But the ability to control our image comes with a price of increased self-consciousness. We don’t just play at being “celebrities” on the internet; our lifestyles increasingly resemble theirs, whether we like it or not, as anyone who has ever been tagged in an unflattering Facebook photo can vouch.
iNarcissism is not the same thing as Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the term psychologists use to describe people who have a pathological self-preoccupation. Where a person with NPD will manipulate others for affection, lie about their achievements, and lash out at those who don’t support their inflated self-image, a garden variety iNarcissist will upload a few too many photos of themselves, keep you abreast of their every thought and movement, and overuse the “like” button on Facebook and Twitter in order to attract your attention, says Rosen. Annoying, sure, but not exactly the kind of person you’d cross the street to avoid…
"You should have a slide saying 'The Sex Myth is bullshit.'"
"Well, I'm already using the word 'bullshit' in my talk, so that could work."
Must-read advice from Danielle LaPorte.
Difficult as it can be intellectually, I think I find book writing even more challenging emotionally. It seems to bring to the fore all my fears and insecurities: about failure, about what other people think of me (or don’t think of me), about who the hell I even am (it happens when you spend day after day locked in a room, thinking about one thing), and yeah – mostly about failure.
The hardest thing for me, as I hinted on Twitter last week, has been batting down my ego. Fighting the urge to poke my head above the pulpit, to say, “hey, I exist,” to release my work before it is ready in the name of external validation.
None of that comes easily to me. I’m a freelance journalist by profession, and part of the reason I’ve been pretty successful at it is because I love the “ping” of dopamine I get whenever I sell a story, whenever I get good feedback from an editor, whenever I see my work in print. It’s not a pretty trait, but there you go. It’s a trait.
Book writing, by comparison, feels invisible. It is countless hours spent alone, perfecting ideas that are too complex to explain to strangers you meet at cocktail parties. It is enforced humbleness (or at least enforced daily stomping on that ego and desire for affirmation); being willing to continue toiling when you’re pretty sure anyone else would have shipped by now, because you and the gatekeepers you’ve installed around you want to make sure you get the damn thing right.
(It is only because of the gatekeepers that I’m not convinced I’m in the grip of some sort of excessive perfectionism. They tell me to trust my instincts, to not submit until I think I’ve ironed out every last visible flaw. Then they will go looking for the ones I didn’t find.)
Writing isn’t the only thing that is like this. I believe that most really good things – whether they be books, causes, companies, or relationships – require this kind of constant chipping away. Most moments of seemingly sudden success have months (usually years) of invisible work behind them. It was the same with my book contract last year. Years of research, months of revisions, and then BAM – seemingly overnight success.
But I won’t lie to you. It kind of sucks. Not just because of the ego (although yes, because of the ego), but because there’s not many people I can really talk to about it. I’d like to be able to talk about the ideas themselves, when I meet strangers at cocktail parties, or friends’ friends at dinners.
I’d also like to be able to talk about the sense of stagnation I feel. The sense that while all my high achieving friends around me are scaling peaks, winning accolades, I’m like a duck in the water: peddling furiously beneath the surface, but seemingly standing still.
Like I said: ego. Squash it like a fly.