How Charlie Sheen Got Me Off the Fence

The whole polarization concept intrigues me.  Polarizing figures like Charlie Sheen, Simon Cowell (former American Idol judge) and Sarah Palin succeed even though they divide their audience.  They piss people off. They are disliked and despised by many.  But on the flip side they have true fans, people whose beliefs align so closely with theirs that they set up fan websites, buy t-shirts, and talk, talk, talk about them to anyone who’ll listen.  When it comes to acerbic, ballsy characters, people either take ‘em or leave ‘em but they don’t forget ‘em.

Most of my life I played to the middle.  Played it safe.  The more people I could please the better.  Ask my mom.  She’ll tell you I was an easy child.  I entertained myself.  I got good grades.  I’m sure my former employers would agree that I did not ruffle feathers.  I spent hours working on other people’s ideas.  I had one entrepreneurial boss who changed her mind daily.  I scurried along beside her fixing messes and picking up the pieces in her non-sequitur wake.  Never daring to voice my own view.  Even as a wife and mother I colored within the lines, following patterns designed by relatives and public opinion.  I wanted to make everyone happy.

Enter writing and blogging.  My sacred space of freedom.  In writing I find permission to be vulnerable.  I put up weekly posts divulging my introverted nature (only 25% of the U.S. population are  introverts), my struggle to find peace in motherhood, and my closet meditation habit.  I admit, I often finish typing, timidly hit the Publish button and sigh.  Later I feel nervous and exposed, like I’m undressing in a changing room in the middle of Macy’s with the curtain open, and it’s drafty.  What if people think I’m weird? What if, God forbid, they don’t agree with me?  I see friends in the grocery store and if they don’t mention my writing I know for sure they think I am a bad writer and out there, not in a fascinating eccentric way but in a Whoa! I’m not letting my kids play with her kids, way. Yet, I keep writing.

Even when I feel separated from the herd, the blog gets me listening to podcasts by Internet Marketing for Smart People and reading posts by Copyblogger.  Both offer strategies and insight regarding online writing and marketing.  Copyblogger’s formula for effective writing is: Effective Content = Education + Personality.  Personality is key.  No one has less personality than someone trying to be liked by everyone.  If you want to be memorable create a contrast.  According to Internet Marketing for Smart People, the middle of the road is the best place to get run over.

Polarization works.  Mark Murnahan’s article entitled Polarize Your Audience and Stop Making Everybody Happy  states, When you polarize your audience, you set yourself apart from the crowd…  You gain respect for being who you are.  You don’t have to play it safe in order to be liked.

Charlie Sheen and Sarah Palin are who they are.  Even if we don’t like them, there is a part of us that admires their courage to take a stand and their freedom.  It seems they have made a fundamental decision to be true to themselves and are sticking with it.

 I am not beating my chest and proclaiming I’m Winning!  but I am putting myself out in the world.  Polarization and writing gave this regular, people pleasing, lady some courage.  It’s OK if extroverts don’t understand how I get energy from solitude.  It’s OK if my parenting ideas are questioned.  It’s OK if some find my closet meditating strange. I created a space for me to be free. I don’t have to dilute my work with likeability.  Being vulnerable is ballsy.  I see being exposed and true to myself as the only way others can see or not see themselves in my words.  I am choosing to get off the wishy-washy fence and take a position.  In doing so I hope to help others find direction, feel aligned, be pleased with themselves.  Now if I could just get them to buy some t-shirts.;)

Where are you willing to polarize your audience?  Where do you take an extreme stance?


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14 thoughts on “How Charlie Sheen Got Me Off the Fence

  1. Pingback: Listening to Butterflies « space2livedotnet

  2. Can I “like” Mark’s comment :)

    Also, I noticed the little quip about your site on the side of this blog, for the first time. I think you did a great job describing your goal for the site in comparing it to our conversations.

  3. I can certainly relate to the drafty changing room. I remember how I described the feeling after authoring three books in 2009 as running down Main Street in a Speedo. A good review was like a warm robe at the end of the block, but there will still be all of those crazy photos on Facebook.

    I look at polarizing as a very good thing. Some will love you, some will not, but there is not much worse to ask for than apathy.

    I will take one of those t-shirts. I say we dress up in our Brenna gear, get drunk, raise hell, and piss off some people. Although, I think we should leave the hookers and hard drugs to Charlie.


    • Thanks for commiserating with me regarding writer vulnerability. The Speedo image made me laugh and will forever be stuck in my head.;) Where do they sell those super vitamins that thicken your skin?

      I see the value in being different so readers are not indifferent. As I said in my post, polarizing grants freedom and guts.

      Thank you for the well written article that I could reach out to.:)

      I’m always up for some rabble rousing.:)

  4. I’d like to be a little gutsy and add Chris Brown to your list of those not afraid to polarize. I say that because he was the first person to come to mind. I feel strongly against him as he highly abused his girlfriend two years ago. However, he feels strongly in his right, per a morning show brief interview that I saw of him, at moving forward because it happened two years ago. A friend who has been abused in the past polarizes her own interests in him…music talent appreciation is high…personality approval is below low. If Charlie’s out there, I figure it’s ok to mention Chris because the polarization on him blows my mind. All related thoughts are ok here right?

    Back to you personally, thank you for the source tips for internet publishing. I will have to refer back to these. I trust your opinion on quality.

    Vulerability is WAAAAAYYYYY ballsy!!! I feel the same way when I step out socialy or in writing or volunteer work. I send out my heart felt, knowledge based, experience based opinions, thoughts, and requests and when I’m not in the mode I wrote it in, I suddenly freak out…oh gosh, did I want to be that nice to that person…they might crush me, did I show too much of myself…they might not feel as open with me, did I share something I achieved too soon…it might still be able to not occur, did I speak too highly of someone…they might find out I respect them…strange but true…scary to have people know you like them even as people because what if they don’t like you back, now that I stood up for myself or stated a negative regarding a subject or person…should I have…there might be lurking facts to prove me wrong. I work hard to squash the latter feelings too. Vulnerability is absolutely ballsy.

    I’ve said this before, and I’m going to repeat it because it also blows my mind. I have NEVER known the “follower” Brenda. I’ve heard about her, but I have NEVER met her. In Chicago, you were an adventureous, exploring partner in crime. When we reconnected, you were already branching out everywhere, finding yourself again, so it appeared to me that my unique, open minded, adventureous friend never left your soul. I guess I’m the lucky one to have always been able to see that in you any time any where…soul sister.

    You and me…we can get off the wishy washy flexi fence together. btw – Weird? Define weird? Weird is being mainstream your whole life and being satisified. OR…second option…yes, you’re weird…and that’s my favorite part out of all of you ;)

    • The part you mentioned about vulnerability rings very true to me. All of it. I feel the same way. I especially feel unsure after I’ve mentioned something I did or do well. Did I appear too confident, too know-it-all? I’m glad you’ve known me for so long that you have a view of my authentic? adventurous self.;)

  5. Amen, sista! And you have such a great collection of tee shirts, most days I’d buy the shirt off your back if you’d sell it!

  6. Brenda,I have so enjoyed reading your blog and Facebook posts. You seem to be so intentional about living a balanced life. I really identify with you and being an introvert and a writer. For me, writing poetry takes me into a place like I am guessing meditation does. I feel connected to myself and with god and nature. Keep writing. We are listening!

    • Thank you Shannon for your kind words and for taking the time to read my writing. Knowing my words resonate with someone is the best gift ever. Makes me feel all glow-y.;) I’m so happy that you have found a beautiful connection with poetry. If you ever feel like sharing I would love to read some of your work. I have written some poetry. I love distilling a memory, feeling or image into its essence. I read a few poems from Mary Oliver before I sit down to write. She’s part of my warm up ritual.:)

  7. You are so beautiful, inside and out, and so not weird. I love when you share your vulnerabilities and imperfections. There are far too many people out there who claim to do everything right, it’s refreshing to see someone I trust and even admire making the same mistakes and feeling the same uncertainties I do. And in the long run, sharing these things only makes us all stronger, braver, and more willing and able to live out loud. Of course, I really am weird, so maybe my saying these things isn’t helping?hehe ;)

    Get your Sheen on. Just please don’t say winning again.haha

    • Thanks Jess! I know you understand the writing and motherhood things. You take stances too! Bravo!! I appreciate your honesty. We do all get braver and stronger.:)

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