Essays,  Photo stories,  Seth Godin,  Where I'm published

Throwback Thursday essay: Letting go of “everyone”

“You do not need everyone. 
What you do or create isn’t 
for or about ‘everyone.’ 
Finding those who are believers 
in what we believe is what matters.” 
~Seth Godin

Cindy La Ferle

At a dinner party recently, some friends and I discussed a few topics that are creating a cavernous divide in our country. As it happens, those friends are kindred spirits who share my political and cultural views. That night, it was a comfort to be able to discuss volatile issues “in a safe place,” as one put it.

We also agreed, later, that it’s a shame we don’t feel safe enough to have open, civil discussions with family and friends who don’t see things the way we do. Instead, we tip-toe around the hot-button topics and try to avoid offending others. Not easy.

In the midst of it, I’ve had to reconsider the fact that, while we humans are created equal, we’re not exactly alike. And most of us are proud of what makes us unique. We have different ethnic backgrounds, educations, vocations, values, religious beliefs, culinary tastes, habits, personalities, and experiences — all of which contribute to our individual character. 

No wonder we can’t agree on every socio-political issue that’s up for debate. 

There’s a lot of talk about how Americans have become so tribal, and there’s real danger in giving up the hope that we’ll ever get along again. Yet we can’t deny the fact that human beings are encoded to seek validation from like-minded folks — just like I did last week at my friends’ dinner party. Just as you do when you join a particular church, cheer for your favorite baseball team, or volunteer for a special cause you support.

We can’t possibly be all things to “everyone” and it would be disingenuous to pretend otherwise. Which brings me around to the Seth Godin quote in today’s post.

At one time or another, most of us have aimed to please everyone, or twisted ourselves into different shapes to fit in with people we admired or needed in some way. 

I used to spend hours writing columns and essays that would appeal to the majority of my readers — or, at least, wouldn’t hurt or offend them. To that end, I usually chose non-controversial topics, convincing myself that I was covering universal themes. I wanted people to like me and I wanted them to like my work. Of course, even then, I’d still get mail from dissenters who were put off by something I’d written. 

As Seth Godin suggests, it’s not about “everyone.” It’s foolish to expect everyone to love what we do, what we create, or what we believe. The ultimate goal is to do what we do best, find the audience with whom it will resonate, and try to coexist peacefully with others.  ~Cindy La Ferle

Throughout my career, I've worked as a book production editor, travel magazine editor, features writer, and weekly newspaper columnist. My award-winning lifestyles features and essays have appeared in many national magazines and anthologies, including Newsweek, Reader's Digest, The Christian Science Monitor, Writer's Digest, Victoria, Better Homes & Gardens, Bella Grace, and more. My weekly Sunday "Life Lines" column ran for 14 years in The Daily Tribune (Royal Oak, MI) and won a First Place (Local Columns) award from the Michigan Press Association. My essay collection, Writing Home, includes 93 previously published columns and essays focusing on parenthood and family life.

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