I love watching Project Runway (see Georgina Chapman Talks about Creative Breakdowns, 5 Self-Help Lessons I Learned from Reality TV) not just for the awesome clothes but also for the lessons about human behavior and human relationships. Recently, I caught up with season 14, and at first I thought the life lesson was along the lines of hell is other people, but then I realized something a little more inspirational. People who hate you will hate you, and people who like you will like you. That’s inspirational? Let me explain.
I’ve always been insecure about my social skills. I’m not charismatic, and in long periods of my life, I was painfully shy. This is why when I read this quote in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, I got really inspired. The quote goes:
What you are shouts so loudly in my ear, I cannot hear what you say -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Nowadays I get confused about Wild Mind and Writing Down the Bones, so I’m lumping them together in this post. Both written by Natalie Goldberg, they taught me about first thoughts. According to Writing Down the Bones, whenever we write, “the aim is to burn through to first thoughts, to the place where energy is unobstructed by social politeness or the internal censor, to the place where you are writing what your mind actually sees and feels not what it thinks it should see or feel.” After I read that, I was able to write more freely.
People think that How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is a guidebook for manipulation, but they are gravely mistaken. If you read the book carefully, there’s a line there that says “I am not suggesting flattery. I’m talking about a new way of life.” That new way of life means understanding that “criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself”. He also says, “instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism and it breeds sympathy, tolerance, and kindness.”
There was a time when I made this mistake. I asked someone about what he thought about a certain thing, and I didn’t like the answer. Then, I realized that I never asked the question to know what he thought; I asked the question because I wanted someone to approve of what I had already thought. Not a good thing, no.
So I totally have all these ideas for businesses, but I am so not committed to making them actually happen. I don’t know what to do with these ideas, so I decided to just write about them in my blog. Kind of like fiction, but instead of fantasy worlds, I’m making fantasy businesses. Or maybe they’re like raw material for a novel and my main character will be the owner or worker in these businesses. Well, okay, here goes.
When I was young, I couldn’t understand why people wrote allegories. I thought, if you wanted to talk about the Stalin era, why do you have to talk about pigs that are more equal than others? Then you grow up and realize, it’s because oppressive authorities who are on a witch hunt for dissenters are ready to take what you’ve said and use it as a tool to justify why you don’t have the right to speak.
Despite such suppression, people still find ways to tell their stories, and they discover it in creative crevices where they are free to be honest—in poems, in songs, and in fiction. If anyone complains, they can always defend themselves with Oh come on, I just invented that. That was just a figment of my imagination.