Never compare your insides to someone’s outsides.
I think something that really exacerbates this feeling of failure that pretty much everybody struggles with from time to time is social media. There are days when I have to hide various columns and people from my feed because I just don’t want to hear about all of their supposed successes. (Fun fact: If I can’t figure out what the hell it is you do to earn a living, you’re probably a Professional Circle Jerker.)
A conversation a few days ago with a dating/relationship mentor of sorts for me reminded me that much of what we see out there is staged. It’s fake. It’s written with the intention of competing with others. It’s also put out there to give a certain impression or to create an image. An image of something that doesn’t exist. Think about the emotions and motivations behind that. It’s ain’t genuine happiness. Look a little closer and read between the lines and you can tell when someone is trying really, really hard to sell themselves but have no actual product to market. That impressive job they go on about? Yeah, not so impressive and possibly even non-existent. Their perfect relationship? Eh, maybe not as perfect as they’d like you to think. That ring? That baby? That whatever? You have no idea what’s really going on. You only know what they choose to tell you.
An ex got engaged awhile back. Even though I would never in a million years wish him on anybody, it still bothered me. Not because I wanted him, but because I felt like I had somehow failed at the game. Like there was a contest and he won. It didn’t seem fair to me. Like, he’s not a terribly honorable person and I am. So what gives?
I find myself wondering if I’m far behind the curve in terms of where I’m supposed to be professionally and romantically. Everybody in my niche has a book. Book book book. Gotta write a book. Book tour! Look at me! Weeeee! I beat myself up because I don’t have one. Am I doing enough? Does it really matter if I’m married or not in a relationship? Why is he or she engaged or getting a book deal and I’m not? These were the things floating through my head as I power walked down 5th Avenue today. Then I flipped my iPod over to Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood and all I could think of was Ben Stiller in Zoolander. I literally found myself laughing out loud. So loud that I had to stop in the middle of the block to collect myself. One guy looked at me and smiled and said, “You okay?” I think he thought I was crying. Sidenote: Walking down 5th Avenue at lunch time a) makes me incredibly horny and b) is a great way to meet men. Thank you, Lycra running pants. Accent accent. Chat chat. Blah blah. Numbers exchanged. I went on my way. This time I popped on Madonna’s Vogue (don’t judge!) and continued to walk. That moment was possible because I work for myself and can take off for an hour and a half and walk down to 45th street and back. And because my legs look amazeballs in those pants.
I can date cute guys with accents and get dressed up and spend way too much money on make-up and new clothes because I don’t have to feed or dress anyone or put a roof over their head. Not that doing that isn’t great. It is, and I know many, many people are gloriously happy and content and satisfied with that. It just either eluded me or it was not part of My Plan. Debating which one does me no good.
It comes down to choices, I think. We’re not obligated to make the same choices as everybody else. It doesn’t make us weird or bad or limited or lacking if we choose a different path. Other people will try and make you think you’re off kilter, but that’s because they want something different and can’t understand why you don’t.
I think you have to get to a place where it has to be enough, you know? I just can’t bare to live my life feeling like I’m in a race or on a schedule I didn’t create.
Here’s a great note that a friend of mine sent me today. He gave me permission to share it.
In the end of the day, our connections to other human beings is all we can leave behind.
You help make that possible. Your work exists to help people move towards understanding their relationship to other people.
Now, remember what good fortune has allowed you to be where you are.
…to be WHO you are.
Of ALL the trillions of people who ever lived, you got to be you.
Think of how lucky you have been.
Healthy living conditions.
Forget your complaints, they are just the result of a perspective in your mind.
Remember the facts: you are among the luckiest people who have EVER lived.
Continue your work. People enjoy what you have to say. I also think it is helpful and makes people think.