Last September I made a pretty important decision. I wrote about it here, and unlike other "important" decisions I make, this one stuck with me. I wanted to risk more rejection. I wanted to put myself out there, to try the good ideas I'm am afraid to send out in the world, for fear of what people will think. I don't like failing, so I usually don't bother trying at all.
When I made the decision to put myself out there for more rejection I was thinking pretty specifically about submitting writing pieces to online publications. That was the kind of rejection I had in mind.
But, like many important decisions, this one took on a mind of its own and began to infiltrate all sorts of other areas of my life. Suddenly I found I was being pushed to put myself out there in all sorts of other scenarios that had nothing to do with writing. Suddenly rejection was no longer just a letter from editors at a website.
This little idea of going for the thing even if it ultimately gets rejected extended into personal relationships, creative collaborations, and dream projects I'd never had the courage to start.
And, before I knew it, an idea that had been sparked almost a year before began to take shape. I wanted to try having those conversations, the polarizing ones that people are having a terrible time with on social media and I wanted to try to do them with civility, nuance, compassion and a whole lot of listening. I wanted to talk to people who believe differently than me and really listen to them. I wanted to be forced to research the other side of issues that I didn't understand. I wanted to find the middle ground. And I wanted to remind people that these kinds of conversations can be done well. We can talk about the hard things and still be kind. We can raise opposing points and still go home friends.
In the last few months I've reached out, asked other people to put themselves out there on behalf of this project, figured out how to record and edit audio, not to mention the ins and outs of Skype and Skype recording programs. I made a podcast and today it goes out into the world.
I'm feeling a little bit vulnerable.
Because if I really don't like failing, I really, really don't like the thought that my friends and family, people who love and know me might think that something I put out there is not that great and they're a little embarrassed for me and also don't know what to say. (This is why my first blog was an air tight secret for years, years, to any friends and family.)
But I'm facing the possibility of rejection because I believe in this little project. Because I believe in the idea of the project. Because I like the work. I really like the work. I love having these conversations and I'm learning and growing so much. If nobody listens, it will still be worth it for what it's doing in me.
I'm also making a lot of mistakes in these first few episodes and still figuring things out as I go. But I'm not waiting until things are perfect to present it to the world. And today, I humbly invite you to check it out. I hope you'll give me lots of grace as I work to get better and do right by these conversations. And I hope you'll stick around. And maybe even sit down and record a conversation with me some day.
Thanks in advance to those of you who listen to the first episode.
You can find it wherever you listen to podcasts. It's called A Year of Listening. Info about the podcast is here and show notes are here. My first episode is a conversation about police reform and the Black Lives Matter movement.