I must admit, I’ve been living in a constant state of excitement since the release of ‘Awkwardly Awesome’. Of all the stats, reports and details that come along with publishing a book, it’s the reviews that bring me the most joy. To know that my baby has entered the world and is having experiences beyond me is fascinating and to get to hear back from people who have crossed paths with it, well, the feeling has been just incredible. The other day I eagerly logged into Amazon to see if ‘Awkwardly Awesome’ had gotten any new reviews. It had. It was a different review than what I had grown accustomed to finding, though, it was a two out of five stars review. After I read it, I wasn’t feeling so incredible.
“Honest review. I know Jason and his work, he is an inspiring guy. But the book left me wanting a lot more. There are a few pages that are good, but was hoping for far more honesty and transparency. The book is short, but 20% of the book are just forms to fill out, making the book even with less content then you originally thought. Too many times it feels like the author is trying way to hard to teach the reader, when all I wanted was an autobiography. My suggestion, tell your story honestly, in order, with more content and less filler pages, and please don’t try to “teach” the reader. Let your life speak for itself.” ~ Honest review
The moment I finished reading it, I was flooded with thoughts and emotions. I felt deeply that this was not a fair representation of the book or it’s intentions. I felt insecurities anew. The fear that for so long prevented me from even writing this book, was triggered. I questioned everything. Flood isn’t the right word, it was more like an internal hurricane. And I knew I needed to wait out the storm before I would be able to truly process the review as the gift it actually was.
Now, after several days, as I reread the review, I can hear the reviewer’s disappointment that he or she didn’t get what they expected. It sounds like they were frustrated with the questions at the end of each chapter designed for the reader. It sounds like they expected me to talk about my life in a very different way than I wrote about it. It sounds like they wanted something that was strictly an autobiography. I can relate to this. When I buy something, I want to get what I expect. It’s frustrating when instead of satisfaction, I feel disappointment.
Also from this space, I can see that I did my imperfect best and met my intentions for the book. As it says in the Amazon description and on the back of book, “The book is designed to be “part memoir, part self-help guide…asking you the reader, direct questions relevant to your own life…” Admittedly, I didn’t want to write a heavy, dirty tell-all memoir, revealing every single skeleton I once housed in my closet. There are early drafts like that and they didn’t feel true to who I am now and had no relevance to what I aimed to do in the book. I wanted to instead talk about some key tragic events- losing oxygen at birth, the death of my best friend in grade school, my suicide attempt in 7th grade, to emphasize how these difficult events have made me stronger, more resilient, and given me more capacity to empathize with others. All of what came before has added together to make my early forties the best years of my life so far.
There is an even bigger lesson to be had here, a lesson in growth. Growth requires us to take risks, the results aren’t always perfect, they don’t often happen in the ways we’ve pictured them, and they won’t always resonate with everyone. If I hadn’t risked publishing a book and selling it on Amazon, I wouldn’t have opened myself up to getting a negative review. I think back and realize that in all my years of not publishing a book, I never had anyone write a critical Amazon review about the books I didn’t publish. And boy, does that make me have so much gratitude for the review above. Had I not risked publishing a book, I also wouldn’t have seen reviews like this one:
“From the time I started reading this book, it’s been on my mind. I hated putting it down. And now that I’ve finished, I’m inspired to get out my own notebook and go back through and answer every one of Jason’s questions for myself. I feel something life-changing happening here!”
Even though I wrote a book with “Imperfect” in the subtitle, a big part of me still wants to please everyone and know at the end of the day that I did everything “right”. This part of me felt that I had failed by getting a critical review. But is “right” only determined by positive reviews? Or is every review, good or bad, not a sign of success? Do they not grant the opportunity to learn and grow?
To the reviewer, thank you. I’m grateful for you. I’m grateful for another chance to learn to keep moving forward, rather than getting stuck when things I perceive as obstacles come up. I’m grateful for the chance to appreciate somebody who expresses views different than mine. I’m grateful for the chance to recognize and re-establish my truth.
I would love to open this discussion to all who read it. Growth happens by sharing your truth and allowing it to shine a light on others truth. There is no wrong response to this post. And please treat each other respectfully, this is about sharing your truth, not forcing others to accept it.
. . . AND . . . Taking a page from ‘Awkwardly Awesome’ I’d also like to pose a few questions for you, the reader, to consider in your own life:
What obstacles have you let hold you back from something you truly wanted in life?
Have those obstacles been reinforced or new ones created as you went for what you wanted?
If so, what did you do?
Could those obstacles actually be hiding gifts you didn’t initially see?
What might they be?
‘Awkwardly Awesome’ is available on Amazon!
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