I go through phases on social media, Facebook in particular, where I join groups and then it's great for awhile, but then it gets to be too much. Right now, I just want to tell everyone in the groups I'm in to stop asking for permission.
When I was in high school, I was a member of the flag corps--you know, we marched behind the band and did marvelous choreographed routines with flags. My high school experience was defined by hours spent with a five-foot aluminum pipe with a fabric flag on the end of it, but it was defined even more by the interactions I had as a member of the corps. As a freshman, I was mentored by our captain, Dawn. One of the biggest lessons she taught me was to stop apologizing all the time.
I wasn't even aware I was doing it. Apparently every time I got criticism or coaching or pretty much anytime I spoke, I would apologize. Now, some 35 years later, I still remember Dawn's gentle "stop apologizing" as a pivotal moment.
The version I see online--from social groups focused on ways of eating to self-publishing--is "is this ok?" and "can I eat this?" or "how do I do x?" Everyone seems to ask permission.
First, let me say there's nothing wrong with seeking advice from others with more experience. But what often happens here is that people abdicate all responsibility and agency. They could figure out what they are asking by reading a book, researching something on their own, and applying what they learned to their individual situation. Instead, they wind up with lots of explaining and "tutoring" from people no more qualified or informed than they are.
And responses run the gamut from person 1 saying "write five books first, one each month, then release them all back to back" while they brag about producing at a rate of 8k words a day while person 2 says to take years to produce, and be sure you hire a cover designer, a developmental editor, a regular editor, a proofreader, a formatter, and someone to market for you. Buy your own ISBNs, too.
Often when someone asks for permission to eat this or that or asks how to self-publish, the response is presented as "this is THE way--the ONLY way to do X."
I'm fortunate to have had a wide variety of experiences with that type of behavior in F2F interactions. In my first PhD class where we had to read responses to each other, one of my male colleagues informed me that I should rewrite my response before I turned it in, because the professor wouldn't approve. "You're going to have a tough time if you don't change X, Y, and Z." Did I change it? No.
And the professor liked my response just fine. And continued to like my work all the way through my dissertation, which they directed.
I was granted admission to the PhD program with a writing sample that made one of my MA professors, the one I'd originally written the piece for, cringe. "Don't send that paper on Henry Miller. It's really good, but programs might balk at essays about that."
"If they do, I don't want to be in that program," I said. "I'm what they're getting."
When I decided to make the leap to online teaching, I had plenty of folks telling me how hard it was to be an adjunct. I made more money and had more varied experiences as an adjunct than I did as full-time anywhere. People told me at various times to not do X or Y, that it would sink me.
I was the first full-time remote faculty hired by the last school I taught for. I was making less money, but I had more time and felt like I was making a difference for the people who were adjuncts. I tried to give them a voice and advocate for them as much as I could, while keeping the lights on at home and traveling way too much.
I moved up to the head of my division, often responding to male colleagues who were all too happy to tell me what I was doing wrong while I kept moving up, until I'd had enough of it and decided I'd been as useful as I could be in that role and it was time to focus on what I wanted to do.
I've been on my own for eight months now, wrangling this novel into shape. My own deadline was March, which came and went. Then I eyeballed June. I'm still not done. But I need to finish soon and send the book out into the universe.
And I know that at least two of the five people who are likely to read it won't like it.
And that's OK. I'm not asking for permission or apologizing.