Saturday, March 18, 2023

When Can I Own What I Know?

 Hello Invisible Audience,


Recently, I started meeting weekly with a friend. We each have projects related to our businesses that we want to make some progress on, and have decided that having someone else to be accountable to and bounce ideas off of will be helpful. So far, we’ve been right. It is really helpful.


My friend wants to pivot from her current career to a new one helping women with small businesses. At our last meeting, she asked me what kinds of things I would want to know about business if I were just starting out…three pages of notes later, she had a whole list of things to help her. Most of the things I mentioned were things that I already know…things I know other women don’t necessarily know, because many have asked me, or mentioned something that makes it clear to me that they don’t know something that I do about how to make a business work. 


I’ve been having some interesting feelings come up around this when my friend and I have met. In fact, this same friend started a women’s entrepreneur group in the area, and I went to a couple meetings. I ended up talking a lot, because I had answers for others’ questions…but then I’d leave and feel a lot of shame because it felt like I hogged the stage and wouldn’t shut up. Or was I being helpful? Or both?


And that’s the issue, Invisible Audience. When can I own what I know?


I’ve owned several small businesses. Some of them failed. Others I let go of. With each one, I learned something that made the next one work better. I’ve been supporting myself with my small businesses for over a decade now, and yet I find myself pulled in several different directions when it comes to giving advice to others about this.


The same is true—even more so, actually—with some of my life experience. I’ve lived a lot of places. I’ve experienced some truly awful, soul-wrenching shit. I’ve tried out a lot of ways to heal. Most did not work, but—sensing a theme here, yet?—with each, I learned something that made the next one work better.


So when can I own what I know?


I have to admit something, Invisible Audience. I absolutely LOVE IT when people come to me for advice. I. LOVE. IT. Nothing makes me feel more useful. And yet I also can feel utterly deflated when someone doesn’t listen to what I have to say. I have to be really careful with this, especially because the feeling I get from giving people advice that they follow is fleeting. And, perhaps more importantly, because when I go overboard with this urge, 1) I push people away who want to be listened to and not told what to do and 2) I go into fixer mode and start to present myself as a person who has the answers instead of letting myself admit I don’t know everything and need to ask questions or get feedback instead.

In my twenties, I did a lot of angrily assuming that peoples’ lives would be better if they just did what I said. I didn’t realize then that I did this because I was uncomfortable with others and my lack of control over a situation; that I wanted others to change so that I wouldn’t have to change. And somewhere in there I found Al Anon, which helped me a lot with this tendency by teaching me about co-dependence.

It’s a lot of the reason I write this blog about my own personal experience, Invisible Audience. Because having an advice column doesn’t feel genuine for me, when I am in the midst of learning so much of this for myself. It’s also the way I remind myself that I do not have all the answers. Blogging is the one place where I admit my fears and faults in a way that I don’t in my regular life.


But it also means I get resentful sometimes, because I feel like I have a lot of wisdom that could potentially help others but no one is asking me for. 


Even writing that sentence makes a voice inside me rear its ugly head.


“Oh, boo-hoo. No one’s asking you for your experience. You poor, self-absorbed, spoiled little girl. What makes you think anyone would want to listen to YOU?”


I’ve been waiting, Invisible Audience. I’ve been waiting for someone else to tell me that it’s ok for me to own what I know. If I’m going to be honest, I’m waiting for that hideous voice to tell me that I’m good enough, even though she’s never done more than tell me how terrible I am. (My therapist and I call her Mildred. She has A LOT of shitty things to say about me in general). 


And you know what? She’s never going to do that. She’s never going to admit that I’ve done anything noteworthy. She’s never going to give me permission to own what I know.


So my choices are continue to stew in my resentment over this, or own it, despite what Mildred says.


So here goes.

·      I know I’m a good teacher.

·      I know a lot of Spanish.

·      I know a lot about business. And spreadsheets. And creating systems that work.

·      I know how to write a book. I know how to get published and that it’s a long, ugly, convoluted process. I know how to publish myself and the drawbacks of self publishing.

·      I know what it’s like to be told that there’s one right way to do something, and what bullshit that is.

·      I know how to get the medical care I need to feel better, and it’s not from listening to anyone else or the goddamn broken system.

·      I know a lot about eating disorders, recovering from them, falling back into them in the name of medical care, and struggling to find value in myself when I don’t look the way I was promised I would if I followed all the rules.

·      I know more than I ever want to know about making hard, life-altering decisions that involve cutting out family members, and how much it hurts when others don’t trust that my reasons were good enough.

·      I know a hell of a lot about therapy and psychology, both from being in therapy and avidly following the field.

·      I know a lot about operating the world as a super sensitive human, and what it means on a daily basis to give my sensitive system what it needs.

·      I know what it feels like to have others decide that they know what’s best for me, and how alienating that can feel when I just want someone to tell me that I’m loveable, just as I am.

·      I know what it’s like to have wanted many things in my life and not gotten them. I know that sometimes not getting those things has been a blessing, and other times it has been a curse.

·      I know how to be incredibly content being single.

·      I know how to travel safely—and happily—by myself.

·      I know how to spend whole days reading.

·      I know how to spend whole days alone, and how utterly blissful that can be.

·      I know that it can be true that someone did their best to love you, and how they loved you was simply not enough.

·      I know that I am worthy of love, even though most of the time I am trying to prove to myself and others that that is true.


Love and Owning It Kisses,



P.S. Thanks for reading, Invisible Audience member. Interested in reading more and supporting me in the process? Check out my profile on Patreon. Pledge as little as $1.50 a month to get access to more of my ponderings and become one of my Semi-Invisible Patrons. When I can't find time to post both here and on Patreon, I prioritize posts on Patreon--there's more to read there.