Note 71: What’s next on “Being Human”
Plus, what does it mean to be “confident”, really?
It really does feel good to be back. And my hearty thanks to everyone who sent very kind words in reply to last week’s note. I know it sounds cliché, but you really are why I write. I mean, sure, there’s a sense in which I write for myself, but I won’t pretend for a second that I also don’t do it for you to hopefully enjoy. It’s a bit like making a delicious meal: you get to enjoy it, but there’s something extra special about sharing and watching someone else enjoy it too.
I don’t take your enjoyment for granted, and I thank you for letting me know you did.
Wrestling in public
Before I went on my hiatus, I’d been trying to be more personal in my writing. Before 2020 I’d always maintained some distance in what I write, but I felt like I was holding back, and I wanted to explore being more vulnerable and honest. And although it was challenging, I found it rewarding, and from your response, you seem to have too.
The challenge with being personal, of course, is that as I mentioned earlier, I’m not writing for myself—that’s what my journal is for. I’m writing for you, which means I’m always thinking about what you’re getting out of this—and quite frankly, I still get amazed that you get anything out of it! So by personal, I really mean, things personal to me that I think you and others like you would find useful as well.
As you know if you’ve been reading me for any length of time, my Christian faith is core to how I think about and look at things. Practising faith can be rather like parenting: it looks cute to onlookers, is incredibly challenging in reality, and can be surprisingly rewarding. I’ve already written about both the challenging and rewarding aspects of faith, and been grateful for your thoughtful feedback, including from you who share a different faith, or none.
But something else I think about a lot is Apple—anyone who knows me knows how I go on about the company and really see them as unique. To some, that makes me what is popularly known as an “Apple fanboy”, or “sheep”—labels I don’t care for but also don’t care to disabuse anyone of. (I can just see some of my friends rolling their eyes at this—don’t hate!) What I do care about is, again, how my writing about it would serve you, irrespective of your view of Apple.
And that’s where stories come in. We human beings are storytellers, and to that end, Being Human is about the stories we tell. And while Apple and Christianity are my personal interests, they also represent two of the most wildly successful stories ever. That makes them worthy of exploring, which is what I want to do in coming essays.
Speaking of essays…
More confident than you think (essay)
You know how you’re all fluttery inside and somehow people tell you they see you as confident, and wished they had even half the nerve you show? It always feels weird when that happens, doesn’t it? Worse, they don’t even believe you when you’re honestly telling them how you feel. Well, my essay this week is about that experience, and whether we need to rethink how we understand what it means to be confident. (A friend pointed out that it was a fitting topic, given I’ve not written anything for a year!)
Here’s the opening:
Many people who know me think of me as confident.
I can see why: it’s in how I talk, the way I socialise, maybe even what I wear. Underneath all that, though, those who get a bit closer quickly learn that I’m actually wracked with self-doubt and uncertainty and can tend to a very negative self-talk. But most people don’t see that, or even want to believe it if I point it out.
I get it. Like many people, I used to think of celebrities and other visibly successful people as undoubtedly confident. I mean, they have to be, right? Or how else do they engage their audience and the wider public as often and as assuredly as they do? Sure, they talk in interviews about their struggles with confidence, but I used to interpret that as them just trying to be relatable to the rest of us normies.
Over the last few years, I’ve been seeing it all differently, and that all began with making a shift.
Continue reading at the link below:
What I’m reading…
I’m currently reading (and greatly enjoying) Fairy Tale by Stephen King and came across a great quote from a character who attributes it to Henry Louis Mencken:
“There is a solution to every problem: simple, quick, and wrong.”
(By the way I looked up the actual quote on the brilliant Quote Investigator:“Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.” As is often the case with these things, I rather prefer King’s misquote.)
That just about sums up something that’s been more evident the older I get: in the face of the complexity of reality, we’re always tempted by simple solutions, and easy answers. It’s why conspiracy theorists and conmen will always be in business: it’s easier to sell a simple lie than offer a complex truth. But I think there’s an opportunity in there too, which is to think about how we can offer right answers that are simple, if not quick.
Simplifying reality without losing its essence, is however incredibly hard to do, which is why it’s so very rarely done. But that’s precisely what I want to try to do. Christianity and Apple sound like a great place to begin, don’t you think?
(No, really, what do you think? Let me know in the comments!)
Yours in story,
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