When it’s Good to Be Ignored

“Listen all you people, come gather round

I gotta get me a game plan, gotta shake you to the ground

Just give me what I know is mine

People do you hear me, just give me the sign

It ain't much I'm asking, if you want the truth

Here's to the future for the dreams of youth

I want it all and I want it now”

- I Want It All by Queen

Freddie Mercury had a lot of insight into creative young people. Impatience and insatiability dominates.

Even if we’re no longer young, we’ve all been there - especially if we live broadly, intensely, and with high sensitivity.

Looking back? We may actually hope no one was paying attention.

We may find ourselves thankful we were ignored on a larger scale. And we have something else to be thankful for. Our time being ignored has a lot to teach us going forward. 

Here’s to Being Ignored!

  • Need some time to gather your thoughts?
  • New to a field and inexperienced?
  • Dabbling with something for fun?
  • Don’t know yourself or your voice yet?
  • Young and bold?
  • Starting a new business?

When your work isn’t receiving much attention, it’s rarely looked at as an opportunity. But it’s actually a great time to invest in yourself, learn how you work best, and experiment.

Here's a song worth ignoring.

Looking Forward

This sentiment isn’t meant to be the opposite of Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You (a book I should probably add to my future reading list). It’s simply interesting to discuss what keeps people going when they are receiving little reinforcement.

"Being ignored as a good thing" in regards to creative endeavors is an idea I hear mentioned here and there.

When professional people acknowledge there are good things to be ignored - well, it makes me feel better. 

Such thoughts hold my attention and make me think about how time with a small audience is sacred time to experiment before more people pay attention. This special and underrated time is nice to have in a fast paced world trying to sell fast wins and fast success. 

In fact, I have found, people like to be in on “the beginnings” of something. It’s far more exciting than coming across it last. In general, open and intuitive personalities like to witness others building a project from the ground up (especially if they think that person is onto something). 

The Attention Economy

When I see young people who think they haven’t accomplished enough yet creatively, it’s usually because they measure themselves with the backdrop of our “attention economy”- aka human interactions as a commodity.

They don’t think they have enough eyeballs on them to do their best work. It’s important to remind them of the value of solitude and the value of small numbers. I think to myself and sometimes out loud to them, “Someday you may have a lot of people up in your business and you’ll be thankful for the time you carved out a thought for yourself.”

The amount of creativity possible in isolation is astounding. Combining it with online communities can have many pros. However, you must face possible cons as a sensitive person. It’s good to grow your thick skin slowly. And remember - your online presence is part of you, not all of you. If it disappeared tomorrow, you would still be here. 

Just like wondering if your writing is better when you have free time, it’s worth wondering if your creative work is really better if more people pay attention to it? I know for myself, the answer is no. 

While I’ve experienced mild success from my past creative endeavors (enough to scrape together a meager living for three years without dipping into savings), I’ve never had an overwhelming amount of attention to keep up with or reciprocate. Recently I’ve garnered a thought-process that makes me thankful for this fact.

Points Again For Journaling

In creative work, it can be difficult to know when something is “done” or “presentable” or … useful to others (if that's your jam).

Overtime, journaling has given me perspective about being thankful I didn’t put everything out there for the world to see. Of course, you have to balance this with holding your thoughts in forever. Deciding when to take action doesn’t need to be scary. Chances are, not many people are paying attention… yet. 

How have you experimented in private or with a small audience? How did it feel to do it early on with songwriting, blogging, or some other creative endeavor?



8 Replies to “When it’s Good to Be Ignored”

  1. I’ve experimented by mixing satirical posts on a personal finance blog. For the most part it has not gone over all that well, minus one extremely huge and successful viral post that made it around the world. But I’ve become used to being ignored most of my life, I don’t really care and I’ll press on 🙂

    1. That’s a good take on things. I appreciate you pushing boundaries with the attempts at satire. My opinion is – somebody has to do it! I always prefer something on the boundaries of comfortable (even if I don’t like it) than something predictable. It’s interesting to think that you’ve bounced between such extremes with same approach at humor (it not going over well or going viral). Such is the creative process!

  2. it’s probably best for the world at large that i was largely ignored until around the age of 35. it was fun goofing off with impunity but i’m thankful there was not a public paying attention.

    with regards to my little blog i kind of started it with something you mentioned in mind. i could make all the mistakes with this starter blog and decide if i wanted to try to make a more proper commercial venture in the future. i’ve said before that even with a small audience they seem very loyal and i’m thankful for that interaction. and i finally made my first creative dollar, 15 of them in fact!

    1. I smiled at your first paragraph. I’m pushing toward 35. Maybe my time is coming (ha ha ha). A blog is a great place to experiment with thoughts going commercial (is that a thing)? Sometimes I think video would force me to edit myself less than writing, but I’m too afraid of that!

      Congrats with that first creative dollar btw! Do you have a story about it somewhere?

  3. Experimenting in front of a very small audience pretty much sums up my entire existence as a human. Haha!

    As it pertains to creative endeavors, I’ve always tried to experiment a bit to grow and develop and, perhaps, come up with something original. Basically, my approach has always been “If I like it, it’s good enough to share and others can choose to dig it or not”. It’s always seemed to work to a greater or lesser extent.

    In fact, mentire blog concept is an ongoing, public experiment in the context of the Personal Finance space. I don’t really talk about money per se, but I do frequently discuss books, cats and art. So far, the number of “eyeballs” continues to grow but will likely remain on the smaller side – which is exactly how I like it.

    1. I like that you rely on your inner barometer of YOU liking it or not. I have seriously put work out there that I didn’t even like (ha ha ha). Not sure what my gauge was other than to keep going! Being ignored is the nature of every single person starting anything, so it’s certainly healthy to be resigned to it and able to accept it. Books, cats, and arts – somehow connected to… PF. Sounds like my approach too!

  4. I’ve always preferred learning, and experimenting, without an audience. A potent mix of my introversion and perfectionism made it impossible for my to do new things in front of people when I was very young. Now, it’s more of a preference. I’m fine making (and admitting) mistakes, but prefer to have at least the basics of something nailed before I’m out in public with it. One “advantage” of blogging is definitely that very few people will be paying attention while we figure the early stuff out!

    1. I’m glad you’ve found a way to put yourself out there with a healthy take on mistakes. It seems like you are in control to choose now instead of the default of hiding. Blogging definitely is a slow start like you said! Blogging anonymously – doubly so!

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