Last year I took heat for publishing an article outlining various ways people could fight inflation. The feedback boiled down to this:
The financial advice is disconnected from reality, but is anyone surprised considering Joe has never known what it is like to live on a fixed income?
To be clear, I’m not bothered with people disagreeing with me. They’re entitled to be wrong. 🙂 Besides, how does the song go? I’d rather be one person’s shot of whiskey than everyone’s cup of tea?
I’ll take the points in reverse order.
First, it is too easy for readers to make assumptions of people with whom they barely have a passing acquaintance. We could blame it on the explosion of social media, but this unfortunate flaw in human nature has been around ever since people learned how to gossip, which is to say, ever since people could wag their tongues.
I could write about growing up poor. I could highlight specific examples illustrating my personal financial struggles even as an adult, and when a point warrants the additional discussion, I weave these examples into the fabric of the blog post.
And yet, despite my best efforts to relate to the average Joe, chances are good that somebody somewhere would find fault with my writing. Because this is what people do.
Perhaps you’ve considered starting your own blog. Many people don’t, partly because it requires a lot of effort but mostly because people are afraid of criticism. If criticisms were limited to the blogosphere, I would say you were right to stay away and find a medium that better suits your tolerance, but anything you share outside yourself is prone to feedback, negative and otherwise, even if the material is only shared with a close circle of friends. Trust me, your friends can be just as critical. Some of them will even have the courage to criticize you to your face.
If you have something to contribute to the general stewpot, stop getting in your own way. Sure, some people will grimace at the taste. That is their prerogative. You will never please everyone. The people who are curious about your formula will stop, give your material a try, and maybe even come back for more. If you’re lucky, they might even tell their friends. One friend turns into two friends, and all of a sudden you have yourself a little following. Hello, meet Joe Orozco, Exhibit A.
For example, there are people in the blindness community who are vocal critics of Molly Burke, a blind young lady who has cultivated a sizable following on YouTube, almost 2 million. Apparently she does not always represent the ideal image of how a blind person should present themselves. I’ve watched a couple of her videos, found her articulate and engaging, but ultimately, I moved on. I’m not her target audience. I’m pretty sure her ongoing success will not hinge on whether or not I follow her channel, no more than my confidence hinges on how accurately Molly depicts blindness to her fans.
Too many people spend too much time criticizing others and not enough time showing how it could be done better. We’re all free to add whatever ingredient we want into this public stewpot, but envy is one of those poisons we could do without, which leads to my other point.
Second, whose reality is my advice disconnected from again? If you read the article, the advice boils down to making smarter daily purchases, continuing to make investments, diversifying those investments, and building up emergency funds. There was nothing earth-shattering about what I wrote. I would argue the advice would be just as relevant for someone with ten dollars in the bank as someone with ten million.
Ah, but you say you have bills to pay and mouths to feed and not enough hours in the day to add another job to the multiple jobs you’re already juggling. You’re frustrated with advice like mine, because I don’t understand what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck.
Actually, this reminds me of a good country song:
But, you’re right. I don’t understand your specific circumstances.
Here’s what I do understand:
You are not the first to suffer, and you will not be the last. If your desire is to change your circumstances for the better, remember the difference between you and the people who succeeded is that the people who succeeded made success a priority. What success looks like in your life is up to you to define.
Perhaps you know I have been trying for years to publish a book.
Actually, back it up. You can’t publish a book if you haven’t finished the damn thing. I’ve heard of people like John Grisham who would work a 9 to 5 and then work well past midnight until he caught a break. Well, I’m sometimes up till midnight too, except instead of working on my own masterpiece, I’m working at a second job. The fact the book has therefore not been completed is no one else’s fault but my own.
Don’t get me wrong, I feel for the millions of people who feel stuck in the rat race. After a long day at work the last thing you likely want to do is go to class or work another job. If you have children depending on you, the pressure is even tighter, and if you are looking after aging parents … I get it. It’s a struggle.
When I say you’re not the first and won’t be the last, I am not trying to be cold or dismissive of your struggles. Rather, I am saying there is nothing that separates me and you from all those people out there creating a better life for themselves. You are just as intelligent, just as resourceful, just as capable of defining and achieving success, even as you push through your own version of life’s challenges.
But, it’s going to require you to make it a priority. Thankfully, making it a priority does not mean upturning the way you do things from one day to the next. Depending on your circumstances, maybe it means using your commute to read books or watch videos to learn a new skill. Maybe it means starting by saving a few cents, then a few dollars, and then a few hundred, because changing your psychology is often more difficult than changing your habits. Yet I promise you, improving in one area will set you up for success in improving in the other. Before long, one baby step turns into a bigger step. The bigger step turns into a giant leap, and one day it will be you writing the blog posts other people love to criticize.
While we’re on the point, don’t you think it’s interesting how the energy people use to read my material and criticize it is energy they could have used to follow the advice?
We will never be good enough for everyone. There will always be a subset of people who will flap their gums no matter how well you do. Actually, the better you do for yourself, the more gum flapping there’s apt to be. Never mind them. Start that blog, launch that business, explore that career change, or enroll in that program you’ve been pondering. The fact you made it all the way to the end of this article means you’re already moving in the right direction.
It’s good to be back. Let’s give them something to criticize! Hit me up in the comments and tell me what you’ve been up to during this hiatus.