I came home and cried that night. Cried to my husband for a world that’s cold, a world that’s harsh, a world that isn’t welcoming all the time. Cried because I didn’t want to do this anymore, this 31 Days. Cried because I wanted to quit.
Earlier that day, I’d spent a few hours in the hustle and bustle of the street. It was my third journey out and about gathering interviews for my series, 31 Dreams from the Street. The interviews were exhilarating and adventuresome at first, but draining and exhausting by week three.
I spent three and a half hours wandering the street and a whole assortment of locations that day. My goal was to gather seven interviews, enough to last the whole week to come. But I only gathered five that day. I tried and tried for six and seven, but continued to come up dry.
Now that I look back, there was good reason I never gathered interviews six and seven that day.
You see, two hours into that day’s adventures in interviewing, I came up against a wall. An invisible wall constructed by a fellow human being who happened to be in my vicinity, who happened to find herself in my path when I was out and about interviewing.
I won’t share details of this encounter, because honestly? The memory is fairly traumatic, like the kind of memory that will stick around for a lifetime whether I like it or not. But I am choosing to share the experience vaguely, because I think there’s something to learn from it.
So this encounter. I didn’t expect it. It came out of nowhere. Had I known it was going to happen, I would have evacuated the vicinity immediately, long before it even happened. But I believe all things happen for a reason, that God works all things together for those who love Him. And He will work this, even this, together for my good.
She was there, in my presence, while I was interviewing another.
She asked what a blog was. And then she proceeded to laugh when I told her what I write about. She laughed in a casual and dismissive way, as if my blog and writing were the stupidest things she’d ever heard of.
I continued with my interview.
At that point, I’d only had my new camera for a couple weeks, so I was still trying to learn all the settings on it. The lighting in the space I was in was notably different than the space I’d just been in. So when I went to take a photograph of the person I was interviewing, I had to take THREE or FOUR shots in order to get ONE that worked. The lighting was really tough to manage with the all manual settings I was attempting to use on my camera. (Let it be known, this had never happened before. I was totally caught off guard and felt like an idiot the way it was. Because I would’ve gotten that shot on the first try had I been a professional and/or fully acclimated to my new camera.) Anyway, before the last shot, she made a snarky, sarcastic comment that really got under my skin. I will never forget her words. They couldn’t have been more rude and belittling. It wasn’t until later that I realized I should’ve responded to her comment differently than I did. But these are the battles you face as a nice, people pleasing person, even when you’re belittled straight to your face.
I continued with my interview.
When I was about to leave the space, I handed a blog business card to the person I was interviewing so they could check out the post later if they chose to do so. This was standard operating procedure for the month. A business card was quick and convenient, with all my information in one place. But when I handed that card to the person I interviewed, the woman laughed. Right there, right in my face. As if me having a blog business card was the lamest, stupidest, most ridiculous thing she’d ever seen.
Having been knocked down not once, but three times during this interview, I was ready to bolt from the scene as quickly as possible.
So I did.
As soon as I handed off that blog business card, I thanked the person I interviewed as kindly as I could, and I bolted. Far off. Straight away. As far as I could go.
Because I’d been made to feel like a fool, like an idiot, like a tiny, tiny girl who didn’t matter one speck.
At that point, I’d gotten five interviews for my series. I had two more to go to meet my goal for the day, but for the next hour and a half, I wandered aimless.
I never did get two more interviews that day. Because I was scared. I felt hollow. Defeated. Low to the ground, like a nothing, a nobody. This series I’d conceived? It suddenly felt like the most lame and ridiculous thing in the world. This writing, it seemed like worthless dream chasing.
I wanted to quit.
This 31 Days had officially eaten my insides alive. It wasn’t worth this. At all.
As far as I was concerned, my encounter with this woman was a 31 Days worst nightmare. Not only that, it impacted my ability to be fully authentic with the person I was interviewing. When someone is subtly and not-so-subtly criticizing you in front of another, you have to wonder about the negative impact it has on everyone.
So I came home. And later that night, I cried. I talked it out as best as I could with my husband. And we agreed, I’d write my thoughts and feelings about 31 Dreams from the Street during the last five days of the series. But I never did tell him about that woman. Because it was simply too embarrassing and belittling. I never will tell anyone the details. They will remain in me, lifted to God, as He’s the only other who saw, really saw, what happened that day.
Over the course of the next four days, I lifted it up. I handed it over. I decided I had to be brave, to keep going, to finish this series just as I’d planned. I needed to get through these interviews, brutal or not.
Four days later, I ventured out. My husband freed me with his words. He said, “Commit to a certain amount of time. Decide that whether you get one interview or ten during that period of time, you’ll be done interviewing after that.”
I got four interviews that night. They all went well.
A couple days later, I got another interview.
And a day after that, I stepped out of the interview box and offered a guest post to my daughter.
On the airplane to the writing conference, Darlene offered to be interviewed when I told her I was wrapping the series and needed another interview.
And on day 26, I decided I just couldn’t do another interview. I gave myself grace. It was okay. I’d already learned the lesson. I’d moved on from the trauma that was.
I don’t know why this happened.
I do know I wanted to quit that day.
I do know my interactions with that woman were traumatizing, forever and unfortunately etched in my memory.
But God calls me to go, anyway. God calls me to continue, anyway. God calls me to write, anyway. Because NOT everyone is going to like me. NOT everyone is going to like what I do. NOT everyone is going to like what I have to say, or how I present myself in this world. If you are that person who doesn’t like me, that person who doesn’t like anything about me? Okay. So be it. The people pleaser in me surrenders. To you. You don’t have to like me.
So I will be brave. I will continue. I will follow this call. I will write, anyway. I will be me, anyway. I will, anyway.
Because I must.
So as I wrap this series, I accept the fact that I don’t write for everyone.
I write for GOD. Because He made me and He called me. Because He knows the most traumatizing things that happen to us, and loves and heals us just the same.
I write for ME.
And I write for YOU, you who have taken time to read one, two or twenty-seven days. For all of you who care, for all of you who understand, for all of you who get it, even a little bit? Thank you.
Cheers. To not quitting because of someone else’s belittling.
Cheers. To the 31 Dayers who have been bold and beautifully brave despite how hard any day’s been.
Cheers. To you.
*This post is a part of a month-long 31 Days series titled Dreams from the Street. If you’d like to read more from my series, click here and you’ll be brought to the series landing page where all 31 posts are listed and linked! You can follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/AmyBPederson where I’ll tweet links to all 31 posts using hashtag #write31days, and I’d LOVE to connect on Facebook at facebook.com/AmyBPederson! I’m so glad you stopped by. Make yourself comfortable and take a peek around the place. You’re welcome back anytime.