Sunday, February 23, 2014

Headlines

"I am not the kind that will hide beneath the lights and lyrical one liners,
I can't stand the hype."
-We The Kings, "Headlines Read Out"

The headline is sometimes the hardest part for me to write.

I spend a lot of time thinking about things that make me want to blog. Sometimes I come up with ideas in bed while I'm supposed to be sleeping. Sometimes they come to me when I daydream while staring out the bus window on my way to work. Sometimes they come to me while someone is talking (and then I start blank staring, and people get offended, and there are all kinds of ridiculous repercussions). Ideas are the easy part. They come when they are ready to surface.

And then I sit down and drop some words on the web browser with some biblical context or a quote from someone or some song and the post is almost complete. Except for that pesky last part- the headline.

I think the headline is so hard for me because it's the title- the main thought that is going to draw people in and decide if they want to read what I have to say today. I try to pack my personality into as few words as humanly possible. Often times I think I'm being clever, and then other people come back to me and say, "I didn't get it." And then I'm left wondering what I was thinking in the first place. Other times, I get one that really hits the nail on the head. And I pat myself on the back a bit.

Because headlines are hard to write.

Sometimes I wonder what the headlines of our lives are. What do we walk around with that make people decide whether or not we are worth reading? Is it our clothes? Our hair style? The expression on our face? Is there a formula for who we are that can give us a more accurate initial reaction? I think we, as humans, spend a lot of time pondering this very question. We want to know how to be approachable, how to be likable, and how to attract others. And we spend a lot of time trying to make ourselves into what we think other people want us to be.

The real part to consider, I would wager, should actually be less self absorbed. We need to start with a much simpler question:

Whose attention do we want to catch?

See, by taking the attention off "me, me, me," and placing it on "the others", I suddenly step outside of myself and try to see from another's perspective. I am left with a much tighter image of what might bring someone in when I consider what they want or are going to be drawn to. I am not suggesting we should change to fit the expectations of other people, but instead suggesting that we need to emphasize the pieces of ourselves that are going to draw in the people who we most want to reach.

And it's important to know who exactly it is that we want to reach- because otherwise when we are unsuccessful in impressing people, we lose sight of what is really happening.

I'll give you an example: I used to be upset about people who would exclude me from events they were having. It made me feel bad to not be included in things that were happening around me. I would dread hearing about it after the fact, because I knew that it would give me a harsh dose of reality- there were people doing things without me.

It wasn't until I started to really listen to some of the stories of what people were doing that I realized the truth- the kind of things I wasn't being invited to were all the same... and they were things that I would not have wanted to go to. See, my headline read correctly for the personality that I have, and people noticed. I was given the opportunity to be part of many things that fit my ideals and were really fun for me. The rest of it was not for me. Being excluded become an opportunity to be thankful- I hurt no feelings when I didn't have to turn people down.

It was only when I started analyzing who was responding to who I was that I started to see what headline I needed.

I admit that sometimes I still struggle with what my life says. But these days, I am much more conscious of my audience- I know what I want to be and who I want to bring in. And if other people find my life offensive, or too different from theirs, or even just boring, that's okay too.

But the reader in me has to extend just one last challenge- sometimes you need to look past the headline to see the story it's holding. Sometimes people have a lot to offer or could be a good fit, but they just haven't figured out their title yet. So while I will work to make my own lines read properly, I also want to strive to read the stories that are the other people around me- even if the first impression isn't great.

Because finding the right headline for who we are can take a long time. After all, headlines really are the hardest part to write.

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