I've been thinking a lot about a recent podcast by Seth Godin about Picking Yourself called "You're It". In this he talks about the struggles of being picked and what that used to mean. In today's world it's easier than ever to pick yourself because you have access to getting your stuff out into the world via the Internet and other means. This resonated with me. As a child it felt like I was the least-likely to ever get picked for anything. Plenty of times I was the last one to get picked, and that was because they needed an equal number of players on the team. Recently I spent a year looking for work and felt the sting of not getting picked. I spent the year applying to jobs and watched myself getting not picked over and over. Usually it was after the second interview. One such position even flew me out to meet the team and have lunch with them. When I got to the airport I bought myself a cup because I figured it wasn't going to work out. So I have a memento of not getting picked in my cupboard. One company said they'd get back to me after several interviews, and (as of this writing) has never gotten back with me. The year went on without being picked, and the echoes of instances where I wasn't picked haunted me.
We have this culture where picking yourself is somehow less genuine than being picked by others. Doing things by yourself (self-publishing in particular) is considered less than having a "real publisher" pick you. I've been guilty of it myself, where someone says they're the president of a company that you know is a company of one. It seems less authentic than if they had worked their way up the chain-of-command at a "traditional company".
What we need to realize (and what Seth points out) is that we are perfectly able to pick ourselves to do the work that matters. We are the final arbiters of publishing our own work. We don't need to rely on others to say "you are now good enough to do this work". We can pick ourselves and do the work regardless if there's an audience for it, and regardless if we'll make a living doing it.
That year of not getting picked was rough. I'm not going to sugar-coat the frustrations and feelings of inadequacy I felt. I really felt like my career was over and that I was going to forever be a shell of my former self.
But that's one way of thinking. If my own self-worth is what I can generate for other folks then is that really something that I want to invest in?
Let me be concise and direct: "Fuck that".
I pick myself, and I will continue to pick myself. Each day I have an opportunity to do things that matter and it's up to me to pick myself to do that work.
If not me then who will?