Make Like an Octopus

Rejection-sensitive dysphoria, better known as “having a thin skin”, means that over time, it becomes much harder to put ANYTHING out, because in a misguided attempt to try and prevent additional rejection, your inner critic eventually becomes so large and unwieldy that it prevents you from producing much of… well, anything.

Your inner critic is like cholesterol — some amount of it is necessary for you to function. If allowed to grow out of control, however, it will block your “creative arteries” and prevent any of that blood to flow where it needs to go, and… well, you get the rest.

Hey, people in my family have high cholesterol, and they go to great lengths to take care of it. I don’t have that problem; I have plenty of other things to worry about instead. This happens to be one of them.

It sounds like a very “First World Problem” to have — and it is. Welcome to the age of the internet, where everything lives forever regardless of whether you want it to or not. (Also, whether the Internet Archive saves it or not. For the record, if it’s going to be saved regardless, I vote for the method of saving it that preserves the context!)

In a world where everything can potentially be analyzed ad infinitum, weaponized, and used to justify anything and everything from whether or not you retweet that post or whether someone hires you twenty years from now… well, that makes an absurdly daunting task for your present-day self.

Safe to say, it took a while for me to relearn the beliefs I had a decade ago. The best defense for any such concerns was to make like an octopus and “spread as much ink” as possible; the better to cover your tracks and any errors made along the way.

As a nice side effect, the more work you produce, the easier it is to go back and cherry-pick which parts you want to hold onto moving forward. It’s always easier to edit material down to size than it is to make something small look bigger than it is.