The lonely hearts club.

Writing for a number of online publications, one in particular that scores pieces based on hearts, shares, and comments, I’d noticed that my articles on gratitude, self-development and life in general didn’t rate that high.

Thankfully, scoring has never mattered to me. I didn’t even know that was the case when I penned my first piece – until I won first place on the Ecosystem with an unexpected monetary payout, a wonderful surprise that absolutely felt terrific.

Today, I’m shy of 5,000 followers because I took a chance and submitted a piece. How grateful I am because it has impacted my life in countless ways, mostly returning me to the days when writing took precedence in my life. It was a focus, a release, a priority.

But so many focus on that, and only that – how to get more hearts and shares, readers and comments. Obsessively keeping score, evaluating who they are competing with, and what content is gaining attention.

We all desire readers because we want our words to be read and more importantly, we want our words to make a difference in the lives of others. We want our words to resonate. We want readers to feel comforted and heard, understood, most of all.

Yet the reality is, some just want recognition, publicity, and fame – making a difference, second to that.

It can be a fine line between ego and altruism.

I’m in no way shaming or faulting those who are seeking fame and fortune. In some ways, I envy them because they have a relentless drive to be front and center – and usually get there. Heck, my wins have been a surprise throughout my life – never a conscious effort. It was an innate drive to work hard and tune out the naysayers. Those supposedly smarter, wiser and more confident.

Age and experience is a gift. I’ve learned to see through people and separate the frauds from the authentic. Those competing, and those collaborating. Those sincere, and those who are phonies.

Ironically, my former partner was financially motivated. Despite rewards, awards and accolades, he respected nothing that didn’t earn money. There was no value placed on volunteering, community service, or making a difference because it was important to me – and others. If there was no green involved, he didn’t support it. It irritates me to this day. Mostly because I tried to change his mind rather than walk away after seeing that very red flag, and vast difference in values.

And when I did earn monetary recognition? The response was dismissive, passive and almost condescending in delivery. It was infuriating, and admittedly still is because I haven’t fully let go, or made my peace with so many aspects of our relationship. I admit to longing for more, a shift in perspective and a motion to make what we had work. Not the case, and I’m the one who needs to let go – and I do more and more each day. I’m almost there. 🙂

To that point, I recently decided to experiment. I penned a piece about love, loss and heartache. I shared what I was feeling deep in my heart, my soul, and my vulnerability was shared with those near 5,000 followers and, possibly more.

My takeaway was, most people want to dwell in love and loss. Heartache is popular. Pain is relatable. Longing is key.

The score was again, high.

But what I struggle with is, what will I have for my readers without love? As a friend once challenged me to do, must I date and seek a love again to gain reader’s attention? Does anyone want to read about anything more than love and heartache?

I’m in a neutral state. I haven’t yet made peace with the love that I feel was thrown away, and I’ve no desire to love again – romantically. I’d said from our start that he would be my last. I meant it, so how can I move on? I don’t want to, yet I feel that I should because maybe that’s what I need. I may be stuck, and should allow someone else in. Maybe I shouldn’t resign myself to that fate. Life is meant to be lived – and why would we ever stop seeking romance? I used to feel that way.

I’ve historically created much through the inspiration of a muse. Yet I’m struggling with that as well. I have one – but something is dead inside of me.

I was reminded that there may not be a forever. After all, I felt the same way five years ago before I gave my heart to someone who I thought would be here forever. It seems I was wrong, again. But he rekindled the fire inside of me, the one I’d thought had burned out. We have no way of knowing who will stay, and who will go. But does that mean we stop trying?

What’s forever for? And how do we learn how to once again love for today, romantically, when we want forever? A conundrum.

Some make it look so easy. Some of us aren’t even able to find a way to start anew.

But I have learned, love sells. Heartache is popular. Loneliness most relatable.

Welcome to my lonely hearts club. May you join me in making the time to find our way back – or toward – where we need to be.

Author: E.M. Murphy

A voracious writer, lifetime learner and eternal seeker who aims to open minds and hearts. Armed with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a NASM Certified Behavior Change Specialist, humanity and humor is at the heart of my writing, reminding us that the key to success will always start with a genuine concern for others while making sure to be true to our authentic selves.

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