Why I don’t need you to inspire me. But I WANT you to.

When this blog was in its infancy, the tag line was “empowering mothers, inspiring minxes”. We were shiny-eyed with enthusiasm and the idea that we could touch other women’s lives in a positive way. The promise of doing something purposeful and visible. Something to fill an empty space while our careers where on maternity leave.

Then I started to notice something. How often a new writer would introduce themselves and their blog with the words “I can’t wait to inspire/empower/teach you how to make your life better”. Words that reflected the ones we had used.

inspiration. don't force it.

Words I found grating. They rankled and bristled and left a bitter taste. They did not compel me to explore that writers work. They left me asking questions – Why does this person presume my life is not complete without them? Why have they assumed they will inspire me? What’s wrong with how I am right now? 

Please don’t misunderstand. I want to be inspired. I want to feel. To laugh, to cry, to explore, to be challenged, to learn. I want to see my own experience mirrored in another person’s words. I want to read an eloquent summary of random things that have been swimming around in my own head. I want to read about lives that are completely distant to my own. I want to be amused by a collection of anecdotes. I want to read things that make me stop and think and examine my own life and beliefs. I want doors and windows flung open through the power of words.

It’s why I read. I imagine it’s why most people read.

But I don’t want inspiration foisted upon me. I don’t want to be told “you will be inspired”. That’s for me to decide. There is a world of difference between a heartfelt piece of writing that opens my eyes to someone else’s experience and lists of lofty advice I should take to make my life better.

I took what I experienced as a reader and applied it to myself as a writer. I changed the tag line. Tried to make it reflect what I was about, rather than what I presumed I could offer others.

In her wonderful, wonderful book, Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert says a very wise thing about those whose sole purpose is to write for others. We will feel the weight of your heavy intention, and it will put a strain upon our souls. I love this. It captures exactly what I want to say in a much gentler way. I will be inspired when someone is not striving to inspire me. I will be inspired when I am invited to walk along beside a person for a small part of their journey. When their words open pry open a small crack into their interior lives and let others peer inside. Into a place where there is intimacy and vulnerability. It is in that place that I see bravery. In that place that I am inspired. And, I think it’s the place of most generosity. To write honestly for oneself and then be brave enough to share it.

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Do you get a bit bristly when people presume to inspire?


19 thoughts on “Why I don’t need you to inspire me. But I WANT you to.

  1. cate says:

    Oh. My. Goodness! I’ve been feeling something similar about the blogging/business blogs I read, but couldn’t put my finger on it, but this is spot on, thank you!

    • Robyna says:

      Thanks Cate – I wasn’t quite sure how to write it without sounding like a hypocrite and/or whinge – because I have definitely tried the “inspirational” route myself – but I don’t think it really resonates with people.

  2. The Hipsterette says:

    Messages are on display for us everyday, if we care to look for them. If we don’t immediately identify them, or continue to miss them for some reason, they will still be there waiting for us when we are ready to receive them.

    • Robyna says:

      I think inspiration and messages are always there for us to uncover. But that’s the thing – we have to do that individually – not have it thrust upon us.

  3. Lisa says:

    I think this is why I struggled with blogging over the past year. I live in a place called reality, which is quite boring day to day. Inspiration was everywhere on the internet, and I felt a little inadequate. Yet I saw other bloggers “phone it in” or write a really basic post and everyone would go crazy over it. A no-win situation. The word “inspiration” is over-rated. I am going with curiosity instead. Courtesy of Elizabeth Gilbert.

    • Robyna says:

      Curiosity is where it is at. I know, it’s frustrating. Sometimes I’d put heart and soul into something and hear crickets. But everyone has different communities and are addressing different things and that’s okay.

    • Robyna says:

      I think it’s really common thing when people first start and then there is that gradually dawning that people prefer authenticity. Thank you for hosting IBOT- it’s a very cool thing.

    • Robyna says:

      Well, I do think that’s kind of inspiring and helpful – but you certainly don’t TELL me it’s inspiring and helpful – which is a good start 😉

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