More specifically, we need the right people in our lives. Nobody can go through life completely on their own. Everybody needs help sometimes. Once in a while we all need a shoulder to cry on, a few encouraging words, even somebody to just listen while we rant and rave about how some days we can’t stand anyone.
Our relationships with non-writers matter just as much as our relationships with writers.
I’ve already talked at length about the benefits of joining a great writing community and if you follow any author blogs, sooner or later you see a great many of them thanking their writing communities for something. There are many great writing communities online and there might also be one or more in your are, where you’ll find an incredible level of support and people willing to give honest feedback on your work.
These relationships are obviously important, but so are your relationships with all the other people in your life. You need to spend quality time with your family and make an effort to maintain friendships. Most people aren’t writers, but that doesn’t make your relationships with them less important. A person doesn’t need to be a writer to make a huge impact on your life.
When you make an effort to keep in contact with old friends and spend time with your family, your relationships become stronger. People are more likely to help you out. They’re more interested in what you do when you’re not around them, because you’ve shown an interest in knowing them and becoming their friend. And everybody has an inspiring story to tell, a great joke or a useful piece of advice. You just have to listen long enough.
The best part is that you don’t usually have to do anything massive. Just calling somebody up once in a while or giving them a small birthday present can make a huge difference in your relationship with that person. Having some fun together is always a great way to bond with other people too.
In modern society a lot of importance is placed on our social life. If you don’t have friends, you’re called a “loner”, and that quickly turns to “loser”. People look down on you if you don’t date. They also make assumptions based on who you do–or don’t–hang out with.
All in all, who your friends and family are and what kind of relationship you have on them can have a huge impact on your self confidence. While you shouldn’t be bending over backwards to help everyone all the time or spending every spare moment with friends or family–you need alone time to read and write, after all–you do need to maintain strong relationships with at least a few people who you know will support you.
Cutting toxic people out of your life is difficult, but always worth it.
I think this is the caveat that really needs to be added to any conversation about developing relationships with people, growing your network or building a community. Some people are flat out toxic. They will always find something negative to say, some way to bring you down. They’re quick to come up with an insult and slow to come up with a solution. You’ve probably already met at least one person like this.
When you’re on the path to becoming any kind of creative professional you need to be particularly wary of this. Lots of people like to tell creative people that they can’t accomplish their dreams, that they’ll never be successful. Some of them are saying it because they’re genuinely concerned and they know being an artist, writer, musician or actor is difficult. Others are saying it because they never pursued their own creative dreams and they’re bitter that you’re doing what they don’t have the courage for. And there are at least half a dozen other reasons why people will say that you’re never going to be a successful writer.
If it’s your mother or your sister, you might not want to cut these people out of your life completely, but there’s no good reason to have friends who don’t think you can actually be successful doing what you love. If somebody repeatedly insults you or tries to discourage you from pursuing your dreams, you need to either minimize the amount of time you spend with them or stop talking to them altogether.
The more time you spend around people who don’t believe you can be successful, the more you’ll internalize their negative talk. When you’re constantly being insulted and told you can’t make it, it’s hard not to start believing it to some extent. Get rid of those people and you’ll probably notice a difference within just a few days.
Maintaining healthy relationships isn’t always the easiest thing in the world, but in the end that’s part of why it feels so awesome. And while the journey to self confidence is difficult for most writers, it’s a lot easier when you have great people by your side who truly believe you can be successful. One of the biggest reasons why I love the Nanowrimo community is because it feels like having my own personal cheer leading squad.
If you don’t have some personal cheerleaders of your own, it’s time to go out and find some. You’ll be amazed how much they boost your self confidence.
How much energy do you usually put into your relationships with people? Do your interactions with people usually have a major impact on your mental health? Please share your thoughts, comments and questions in the comments section below.
Other posts in this series:
Self Confidence For Writers Part 1
Self Confidence For Writers Part 2: The Benefits of Daily Practice