While we still have A to Z on our minds, with an apology to those who have been trying to get away from thinking about the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, I wanted to address one of the more common complaints that has come up now and then regarding how some people see the Challenge and how it is handled by the A to Z Team.
The issue I have in mind involves those who drop out of the April Challenge or those who cannot keep up. This happens to a number of bloggers who enter the Challenge and when this has to be done they should not feel any shame, feelings of inadequacy or incompetence as a blogger, or anything else negative about themselves. The intent of A to Z is not to humiliate or embarrass anyone, but merely to offer up a Challenge to bloggers who would like to test themselves in accepting this Challenge.
My analogy is typically the running of a marathon. Some people choose not to run in a marathon for reasons that should not fall under anyone's judgement. You won't find me entering a marathon because for one thing I don't want to have a heart attack and for another I couldn't keep up even if my heart withstood the exertion. Marathon running is not on my list of things I feel compelled to do and that's my business about which I feel no shame nor do I feel left out when marathon day comes to the Los Angeles area and it seems like most of the city is wrapped up in marathon activities.
Same with A to Z--if you want to do it then go ahead and if you don't then don't and just don't make a big deal about any negatives of others doing it. Compassion goes both ways. No one should try to make you feel bad for not participating nor should you belittle the event and its participants if you choose not to be a part of it.
However if you do say you're going to do the A to Z, you should make every effort to keep up as the Challenge calls for and to finish the event. If you honestly can't then so be it, but to drop out and then try to disparage the Challenge is not right. That's the same as trying to run a marathon and finding you can't keep going and then blaming the marathon for what you weren't able to do and then expressing your opinion that the marathon should go away because it makes some people feel bad. If you can't do something then fine, but that doesn't mean others shouldn't do it and have to listen to negativity from others who don't like it. Really now, the A to Z Challenge is not politics, but it's supposed to be fun.
In fact, more than once I have heard some bloggers suggest that others have been quitting blogging because of the Challenge. Some have suggested that bloggers have quit out of shame of not having been able to finish the Challenge, anger because the Challenge takes up all of April, or that A to Z has taken the fun out of blogging. Are you kidding me? I doubt that this is true, but if it is true for any bloggers then I think it is a statement on the bloggers who quit. Their actions say nothing about A to Z.
The concept of someone quitting blogging because some other bloggers like to participate in the A to Z Challenge is akin to me saying at Super Bowl time that because I don't like football and everyone seems to be wrapped up in the Super Bowl that it's taken away all enjoyment of life for me so now I'm going to crawl away into some darkened place because of my shame and humiliation and curl up and die. No, it's not like that at all--I just do something else that I like to do while others watch the Super Bowl and talk about it endlessly before and afterwards. Then later on life goes back to normal whatever normal life might mean.
Different Strokes or Do You Like Artichokes?
What it all boils down to is that some people like some things and other people like other things and we should respect that. You might blog about your dog, your job, your hobby, your ailments, or even your latest book and that's all well and fine. If others are up to reading about your chosen topic that's okay while if others want to move on and read something else then that shouldn't be the end of anyone's world. We should all be free to pursue our interests just so those interests don't actually interfere with anyone else's happiness. And if you feel that someone else's interests are interfering with your own happiness then you might want to examine more closely to see how it is interfering, why you think it is interfering, and rationally assess if there is any actual interference or if you are perceiving things in an irrational manner.
If a crowd is smiling and having fun because of some positive event then you too should be happy for them. If you aren't feeling this and feeling somewhat alone then it's not because they have left you out, but you have rejected them and decided to alienate yourself from their positive atmosphere. If this is what is happening then don't try to find what is bad about what others enjoy, but try to understand who you are and how your needs can be fulfilled without expecting others to make you happy.
We are each in charge of our own happiness.
In part two I will address the issue of compassion as it applies to the A to Z Team and participants. And before anyone thinks that these posts are only A to Z Challenge related, let me reiterate what I've said on other occasions: I see A to Z as a microcosmic activity that exemplifies life in general--how we approach A to Z and how we respond to it is reflected in our everyday behavior in work and personal life. My hopes are that what I am saying in these posts will be seen as having a broader application than just in the A to Z Challenge.
In general do you see the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge as being more of a positive or a negative thing? Did you finish the 2015 Challenge or any past Challenge? Did you ever start a Challenge (not necessarily A to Z) and have to drop out before it ended? Either in finishing or quitting, how did you feel about about your performance in a Challenge and the outcome of what you did?