The other night, while I was up with insomnia, I started making a “You Suck” list. It’s just one of many lists that go through my head when my other non-sleeping choices are to:
- Make a list from the other 100 lists regarding everything from “Brilliant blog posts that come to me…at 2 a.m.” to “Stuff we need for summer that’s probably already sold out” to “Friends I finally remember to call…at 2 a.m.”
- Turn on the light and read (which is out of the question because while my eyes are too tired to open, I still can’t sleep)
- Listen for odd sounds in the house and turn them into “something”
- Think my novel through to the end (which is stupid because it changes every time I start writing it)
- Invent outlandish and horrible things that could happen to the kids
- Get myself worked up about dead people (like my mom or my cousin who drowned)
- Listen to my husband and the dog compete for who can make the weirdest noises
Anyway, the “You Suck” list is the one where you think about all the stuff that other, more competent humans have achieved while you sit wallowing in your mud puddle and eating worms because you can’t seem to pull it together (whatever “it” is). Because, clearly, you suck. And you’re not good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it, nobody likes you.
Earlier that night, I’d made the giant mistake of violating what should be the number one rule of the universe: never compare yourself to someone else. Unfortunately, when you write, blog, and have a Facebook page, comparisons sort of jump out at you around every corner, so it’s kind of like asking someone not to notice those billboards in Vegas with half-naked women on them. You may try your hardest not to look because lord knows it’ll just make you annoyed, but in the end, you just can’t help yourself (and I’m talking about me here — I’m under no illusions that you boys even try…).
So I laid in my bed, thinking about the different people who were promoting their new books or had somehow gotten 250K Facebook followers in two years or had one of their posts go viral and watched their sites explode. And it made me ask those same old questions. Am I not working hard enough? Am I not a good enough writer? Is my focus totally off? And the ever-present. . . What the hell is wrong with me?
So the next day, I was cruising the grocery store and ran into a friend — an “In real life” and “Very in touch on Facebook” friend. And she started in about how my blog was doing so well and kicking butt on Facebook and “What are you crazy? Of course you’re doing great — you have more than a thousand followers!”
So I of course told her about the “You Suck” list. And it turns out, from her vantage point, I have it all pulled together. I’m workin’ it from all sides, writing like a madwoman, and know exactly what I’m doing. She on the other hand, wishes she could figure out what to do with her sucky life…
And that’s when it hit me (and sadly, this has hit me many times before but I can’t seem to make it stick). So many of us look good on the outside. But we’re all so screwed up and crazy when you open the door. If we could just remember that no one’s life is easy, simple, or pain-free, we’d probably all sleep a lot easier at night.
Or, at the very least, move on to listening for weird sounds and thinking about dead people.