“This is so brave.”
I have started to notice the way people say that when women write memoir-y things. This is a thing people do and it’s annoying but now I can’t stop seeing it. And I like to write these memoiry things, on whatever small scale (does twitter count?). I absolutely have that compulsion, and am fairly aware that I have a knack for it, and I find it really rewarding to do. It’s so funny to me though because, while I can’t speak for others, it seems to me like the least brave thing.
I guess any courage I have is just knowing that everyone is really fucked up, and we’re usually fucked up in similar ways, so who cares. That’s not bravery so much as self-awareness? And it’s really not narcissistic so much as it requires empathy. It’s narcissistic to think you are the only idiot with money problems or love problems or work problems. If you look around and realize everyone else has variations on your same theme, it’s very liberating. And true!
And so from there, writing about something crappy that happened to you - especially if it was your fault, if you did it! — and making it funny and compelling and entertaining? That is just advantageous, on a lot of levels — that’s just opportunity, baby. And it’s such a human compulsion to me, to confess. It so transparently satisfying on the basest level. Not in a bad way — I don’t think it’s boring (when it’s good), or any more self-involved or indulgent than anything else. I love reading this shit, and so does pretty much everyone else. It’s about the human fucking condition and it teaches about ourselves and the world. It helps us cope. It’s all there is.
But brave? Come on. You are taking something crappy and either making literal money from it, or sharing it with the world, who will then tell you they love it. You are benefitting from the bad thing! You have fulfilled the great promise of writing: you have transcended the crappy thing by imposing a narrative on it, you have made art from it, and you are loved more for it.
You took a risk that people would hate you for it, sure, but the promise of their love for you outweighed it. Your desperate need to be loved by everyone in the world outweighed it.
“So brave!” Oh shut up. Unless you are a whistleblower or calling out a tyrannical government or a murderer or something (all legitimately brave!), say it’s good or funny or deft or revelatory or fascinating or compelling or “I just really love knowing that you fucked up and it gives me great satisfaction and makes me relate to you even more, and feel less bad about my own human self.”
That is enough! That is all there is!
Know that while you may feel it’s brave to overcome the fear that others will judge you, once you get over that, it is really fun and really a thrill and really psychologically satisfying to be loved for all the reason you fear you’ll be hated. It’s a great, desperate delusional shtick. “Oh you think you love me? Well, let me show you the worst parts of my brain and my self. Oh, you still love me? Ha! Wow!” <— not brave. Kind of pathological actually.
It’s fun to do, though, and fun to read. It really helps people — readers — sometimes. I believe that. But I don’t know about brave. You’re a fucking writer. You basically are inept enough that you can’t function in your life without mediating through your own brain and then imposing it back on the world and expecting to be loved for it. Ha!
Brave is getting out of bed in the morning and just living your life, and living with your choices. Brave is making choices without asking the public to affirm you for making them.
Or at least right now I am convinced of that, though I am kind of drunk tbh, and really having a hell of a time lately.
I just don’t think it’s fair to hold writing to “brave.” I don’t think that’s necessarily what it sets out to do. If we were brave, we wouldn’t need it.