I have started drafting this blog many times over the past couple of weeks. I even wrote a bit last week on my phone during one of the services at church (hush, I sang so I attended both) because the message of the sermon was relevant to the topic as well. Then Summer Heacock (a truly exceptional individual) shared a post similar to what I want to talk about, and possibly did it better than I can, so check that out for sure.
Lately I have seen a lot of good news being shared around the social media universe. Engagements, weddings, babies, agent signings, book deals… So so many good things.
At the same time, I am having an increasing number of conversations revolving around jealousy and bitterness. The constant comparisons will drive anyone crazy. People are bitter about their lives. Their jobs. Their relationship status. Their love lives (or lack thereof). Nothing is right and everything is tragic. We want what we don’t have.
I’m as guilty of this as anyone. Maybe moreso. I remember once, years ago, when one of my good friends called to tell me she was engaged. She’d never been too into guys or dating, but she met the one and that was it. I was so happy for her, but there was this other feeling gnawing at me. The feeling of envy, of bitterness that I didn’t have what she had. It didn’t detract from my happiness for her at all, but it was definitely there. Twitter and Facebook are incredible amplifiers for bitterness, as we get to peek at the best moments in the lives of our friends and families and even strangers. And it’s easy to start scrolling through and thinking, that’s great, but WHY NOT ME?
And that’s the issue, isn’t it? That comparison. Looking at other people’s lives and deciding that because we don’t have what they have, we are lacking. Not enough in some way. And we try to change ourselves to fit into someone else’s success. IF ONLY I lost weight, I would be happy. IF ONLY I were dating someone, I would be complete. IF ONLY I wrote a book like that one, I would get an agent. IF ONLY I wrote about that topic, I would get a book deal.
What a great way to lose yourself.
What if, instead of trying to find our worth based on what everyone else was doing, we changed our perspective? What if we worked on finding the good in ourselves and our circumstances, focusing inward instead of looking at the world to see if we measure up?
The other night I had the privilege of having my nieces spend the night with me. I love having them over. They are some of the most beautiful, confident girls I know. That in itself is a lesson for those of us caught up in the comparison game. To be like children, so proud of our accomplishments instead of belittling them because they aren’t like someone else’s. We watched the newest adaptation of Cinderella, which I adore. One of my favorite scenes is when Ella is sent to live in the attic, and at first she is horrified, but then she starts talking about the good things about living up there, for example, not being disturbed by the rest of the household. She remains positive despite horrid circumstances. She has so little, but what she does have, she cherishes.
In writing world, this can be especially difficult. When you’ve been querying for years, and someone new arrives on the scene and snags an agent in a couple months, it’s tough to stay positive. When you’ve been on submission for a year and someone else announces a deal what feels like two seconds after signing with an agent, that bitterness can grow. When foreign rights deals, multiple book deals, large advance news, movie rights, and on and on start rolling in for what seems like everyone but you, gosh it’s easy to water that bitterness and let it take root. It’s easy to give up, to say it’s not worth it.
I have mentioned before that right before signing with my agent, I was contemplating a break from querying. Not from writing, but from sending my precious words into the world. It had gotten to be too much. Each rejection stung worse than the one before. My thoughts were not kind. I was bitter. I was convinced I would never be good enough. I needed to be perfect, and I wasn’t.
I came through the bitterness. I pushed forward and worked at finding the light. Just a little bit at first, and then a little bit more, and as my perspective changed, my approach changed. My outlook on life became sunnier, at least. I found the good things that came with this writing adventure, even while still in the query trenches. The friends I’d made, the massive leaps and bounds my writing had taken because of these new friends and connections. When I started looking at the positive things, the things I had gained, rather than looking at everyone else and wishing I had what they had, I was able to relax and move forward at MY pace. Because everyone has a different journey.
I don’t want my journey to look like anyone else’s. I once tweeted that I didn’t want to be “The Next ______.” I want to be the first ME. And in order for that to happen, I need to stop comparing, stop trying to change how I do things to match what other people do.
I’m just gonna be me. And you be you. I promise you won’t regret it 🙂