Why seek the approval of others? | Laxmi Hariharan

Why seek the approval of others?

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Why seek the approval of others?

It’s counter-intuitive.

On one hand I think am a rebel. I’ve learnt there are some ways I want to live life which does not conform with society’s conventional idea of how a person should.  And how is a woman / a middle-aged woman  / a woman who writes YA fiction / a woman who hasn’t had any children yet / a married woman / a career-woman /a woman of colour in the western world to live her life?

I am yet trying to work that out.

As I write The Second Life of Ruby Iyer, I felt the need to deep-dive into Ruby’s character to explore her motivations. It’s something I never paused to do with The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer. I did write Ruby’s diaries, but Ruby’s story itself gushed out so fast I never really paused to unpack a lot of what Ruby was about.

An interesting exercise I am working through – is to understand my own fears and trying to see where they fit in with Ruby’s deepest fears.

And what I found was that my deepest fears is of not being liked; of not being accepted by people. By my family, my friends, those closest to me …. In fact I have a real terror of being abandoned by the world.  Of being judged by the faceless public who then find me wanting – that is my worst nightmare. Its an exhausting way of living, this constantly trying to figure out if people like me and what I can do to make them like me.

Being rebellious by itself is also a means of trying to get approval — from the peer group where I want to be seen as cool. And perhaps all along by calling myself rebellious I have tried to gain the approval of myself. Does that make sense….?

Being an author means having to strip bare and lay my deepest emotions out there for people to judge. Readers know when I am not being genuine. And critics can be really harsh. So just by writing and getting my books out to be critiqued … well by doing this am I diving into the well of my deepest fears?

And if so how am I doing at confronting my fears?

Not that well.  It’s terrifying putting my emotions out there, facing what I fear, what I loathe, what makes me hurt … its tougher still to layer it over the life of my protagonist, to subject her to these torturous situations.

Yet, by doing so I feel calmer. As if I am wrestling demons and putting them to rest. Perhaps that is why I write. To find a slice of stillness.

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