Sometimes, when I am writing a something of particular importance, I will send it to some friends to be edited. What is the worst thing that those friends can say?
“That looks good.”
I know it looks good. If I didn’t think my writing had any merit, I wouldn’t publish it for the world to see. But I seek feedback, because I want to make it look better.
I teach English (once again!), and editing is always something very difficult for my students. By criticising someone’s writing, they feel that they are criticising that person. My challenge is teaching them that their writing is not who they are. Writing is something we produce. And it can always be improved, no matter how good it is.
I’ve found that it is the same way with life. When we see a friend making decisions that are harming them–or even just making their life more difficult–we’re hesitant to say anything. We don’t want to hurt them.
But, we are not our writing. And we are not our decisions.
A decision is something that we make. It is not us. It could be something that is making us miserable. And when that happens, the kindest thing a friend can do is to gently suggest that to be the case. This isn’t nagging. Just like with writing, in life we create the final product. We get to pick and choose what advice we take, what we think about and decide upon later, and what we ignore.
Throughout this winter, especially, I was able to grow and make changes, during very difficult times, because a few of my friends had the courage to speak up, kindly, when they saw that I might now be acting in my own best interest. Having some perspective from a third party, helped me to see the situation with better clarity.
We’re here to help each other out and support each other. So let’s make sure that we’re doing that, even when we have to say things that are less than comfortable for us to say.
Give-away Update: Thank you to all who participated. We had more books than people, because many of you donated anonymously and did not post comments. The participation, on Gracyn’s website, is heartening! Please continue to spread the word and encourage your friends to donate.
If you wrote a comment, your name was drawn at random, and you have been notified by e-mail. Please get back to me by Wednesday, or you will lose your spot. Thank you, everyone!