Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Legitimate Question and a Little Gratitude

Several people have asked me why I went on TV and the radio if I wanted to be invisible, as I said before. This is a fair question. I appreciate those who have asked it nicely, in a spirit of curiosity. To those who have asked it as part of an attack on my intelligence or sincerity, I am glaring in your general (virtual) direction and wagging my finger at you. (Yes, I am actually sitting in my bedroom glaring and wagging my finger.) 

I wrote this response to the first person who asked the question, and I post it here in the hope that I will not have to address everyone individually.

I did not write this blog to get attention. Yes, I knew there was a possibility that people other than my friends and family would read it, but I thought it was a small possibility. I knew that anyone who found the post would know exactly who the senator was. I left out his name naively hoping that fewer people would stumble across the blog during searches (or whatever methods people use--I still have no idea how random people found this).

When I wrote a couple days ago that I wanted to be left alone, I meant it, but I have had a change of heart.

In his essay "Self Reliance," Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.--'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.'--Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood."

When I first read "Self Reliance" during my junior year of high school, I thought Emerson was an idiot who was trying to justify his fickleness, but now that I have a few more years of life experience, I see that he was right. Someone who does not change her mind as she acquires new information and experience is foolish, indeed. In the past few days, I have acquired information and experience at an alarming rate and am, therefore, justified in changing my thoughts about the attention I am receiving, as well as about many other matters.

Furthermore, my desire to be invisible is a maladaptive coping skill I have developed in response to a severe anxiety disorder that I have struggled with since the age of 5 (or thereabouts). It is called avoidance, the hallmark of anxiety. My current psychotherapy focuses on overcoming avoidance. This week has given me many opportunities to face my fears (like speaking in public) rather than run from them.

Additionally, every criticism I receive gives me a chance to practice my assertiveness, another skill I am working on.

As so many people have been supportive, encouraging, and complimentary, I cannot respond to you individually, though I would like to. You've helped me find courage somewhere in my trembling soul and given me more hope for what the world can be and what I can be. Thank you.

Current song: "Leaving New York," R.E.M.


Ehud said...

You show principles, manners, and the willingness to stand up for them.

If you want a job in customer service, our door is open.

Tucson AZ

The Dancing Newt said...

I like that. "Someone who does not change her mind as she acquires new information and experience is foolish, indeed." It is so true.

You're amazing my friend. Keep it up. :D

Xoynx said...

Yours is one of the best blogs I've ever seen. You write thoughtfully, profoundly, and honestly--what more can any writer offer? You have a new fan.

Honey said...


You write beautifully and seem like a very thoughtful, compassionate and rational being. I wonder if your close brush with the politician, and the diplomatic and reasonable way you handled yourself with this angry and tortured member of the status quo, may indicate a call to make change in the world. We need thoughtful, intelligent and compassionate people to run things and fix problems. Listening to "Leaving New York" in solidarity and thanks for the stories.

thirdrobot said...

Hi... you asked to be left in peace so I apologize! I just wanted to add a word of support from VA.

First, you did nothing wrong. Absolutely nothing. Second, you were very fair and likely charitable to the politician.

I am sure all the attention is difficult though cause there are some nasty (and creepy) buggers out there on the internets.

And now your story has blown up on DailyKos.

Well, I can only speak for myself but I bet I represent how just about everyone over in our community feels, and that is we are proud of you and you have our full support!

I mean it. We will raise hell if anyone bothers you, don't be afraid to reach out.

Thank you!

xynz said...

I think you're handling this very well. Don't worry too much about becoming a "public figure". Just as your radio and TV appearances were therapeutic, your blog becoming (temporarily?) famous can also be beneficial. It gives you a sheltered venue for "public speaking".

Keep up the good work.

lawnorder said...

You go girl, you did nothing wrong :)

Tarik said...

Very intelligently put.

raj said...

You're doing the right thing. The best defense is a good offense.

You acted professionally, and the small-minded hobgoblins are going to want to persecute you anyway. This way you get to tell your story so that rational people can make up their own minds.

Kudos, your humility and drive will serve you well in life.

sunspark said...

Forgive one more comment, please, but as an English teacher I cannot help smiling whenever I hear someone using Emerson's thoughts as foundation for their own. :-)


marmet said...

Hi, just a total stranger here from the other side of the country, but I found your blog through a message board that I frequent. I just wanted to say that I really admire your courage (not to mention your excellent writing skills!) and poise in dealing with this whole situation. You've certainly shown more maturity than a lot of people twice your age (public figures and elected officials included ahem).

And FWIW, my entire message board thinks you are awesome :)

jenny l p said...

I'm another random person who heard about your post and had to check it out for myself. But I had to comment on how well you write and how much I enjoyed reading your recent posts.

I understand the avoidance thing, I've been practicing it for most of my life. So I congratulate you for being outspoken and taking a stand. Keep it up!

Mindmoo said...

As a fellow writer, I applaud you for taking a stand against a bully and for writing so eloquently about your experiences. It is rare nowadays to see young writers of your caliber.

I actually got wind of your story through a homeschool blog that I subscribe to, so as you can see, many different types of blogs and media have picked up on your story. You can say it was a "lemons into lemonade" moment for you. Best wishes in your future endeavors, and God bless.

Candle Ends said...

He was wrong, you were right. Blogging about a jerk, especially if he is a public figure, is a good thing. There should be more of this kind of thing. Expose them for the two-faced chumps that they are.