Most of my life was about fitting in. I had thick glasses, I was short and skinny, and most of my life, we were financially poor. So I always felt like I was at a deficit and trying to make up for that.
I wanted to be accepted by others– I wanted to fit in.
After a decade in the business world, I decided to enter the ministry. We pastored several churches over 20 years and I was considered good at planting and revitalizing churches because I was good at fitting in to communities. I became like them, and they liked that.
Social media discovered this flaw in humans and now most of us need a “like” attached to almost everything we do. Then when we get a few, we want more!
About 7 years ago, I started a journey away from my previous faith and religion. I have begun to heal and I have grown and learned and progressed significantly. But one thing that still troubles me is my need to be a part of a group. I’ll become very loyal to that group, then it doesn’t respond the way I think it should, and I feel excluded.
The people, out here in the desert, who write books, are trying to accomplish something by writing the book. I know as an author, writing the book is very fulfilling and helps me know what I think and communicate that to others.
But then comes the marketing which none of us are good at.
There is a tendency to form launch teams and get endorsements from the coveted celebrities that agree with us. We try to wrangle all of our friends into reviewing and rating the book, while we try our best to communicate to the world clearly.
When I take a step back from all of this activity, I know some things that work, I know some things that don’t work, but the whole process is beginning to feel sleazy to me.
When we try to group people together that think alike, we may accomplish a little more, but there are so many pitfalls in it that leave me hoping for a better way. Grouping together because we are “like-minded,” is very similar to what we use to do in religion.
We know that these practices help us be more powerful as a group and get what we wan’t. But is that really what we want? What if, like we have discovered over the years, we were wrong? The group can help me get what I want, but is that always the best thing?
I decided I couldn’t sacrifice my integrity and authenticity anymore. I stood up to some people and told the truth–they didn’t like it. So I’m left with peace about being authentic, but a sadness that I have to lose friends for speaking my truth.
The book that we release in the fall will have no endorsements, and I’m trying to reconsider what a launch team should look like.
Building mutual admiration societies is much like in church when we create creeds and belief systems that we have to start defending as we stop growing. The group, aka the organization, starts taking precedence over the individual. Then, when there are enough people that agree, most of us can be quickly replaced.
As we grow and evolve, it is inevitable that we grow apart from each other as we move forward and some people want to stay where they are. My best friends are the ones that survive the transition. The ones that don’t probably never were.
Be who you are. Believe what you know you should.
As Peri Zahnd once told me, you’ll find some new friends.