People say I’m a good listener. People say I give good advice (even when they choose not to follow it). I’ve had more than one person remark that I seem wise beyond my years, that I’m an old soul. That’s what happens when you have to grow up too soon, so it’s not like I can take any credit for it. Well, I guess I can take credit for those really stupid decisions I made when I was young…er that had life-long consequences, but still. You know what I mean. You either wise up and make the best of those decisions or you continue to make bad choices and suffer through a frustrating life. But anyway. That’s another post, I guess.
What I wanted to talk about today, what I want to confess, is that I don’t practice what I preach. I mean, I try to. And it’s not like I’m dispensing advice left and right, expecting reality to be one way for everyone else and something completely different for myself. For the most part, when I say something, it’s because I truly believe it to be right. At the time. Objectively. And I strive to live those attitudes. But… sometimes in the heat of the moment… striving falls woefully short.
But this isn’t about how I’m often a hypocrite, in general. This is about something specific. Something I wrote fairly recently and received a lot of praise—and some flak—for writing. Something I wrote and truly believed recently enough that when I recently found myself having some pretty negative thoughts, I immediately knew I was being the proverbial pot pointing and laughing at the color of the kettle. That doesn’t mean I had any control over how I was feeling, though. It just meant that I had the added shame of knowing what a spoiled brat I was being heaped on top of the emotion causing me to think like that spoiled brat.
Remember what I said to newly published authors? No? Well, here's a tiny, relevant snippet from that post:
Nobody owes you anything. Not your family, not your friends, not your pastor, not your co-workers, not your dog.
Yeah, I had to tell it to myself pretty hard the other day. And I wanted to punch the wiser half of myself in the ovaries for being right. I won’t go further into the details (I have some pride and plenty of shame regarding this), but I will say that I realized how amazingly entitled I sounded when I vented my complaint to a fellow writer friend. And I wanted to take back all the words. And I wanted to hide.
And for what? For being human? For expressing what so many people have expressed to me in the past, in similar situations? Yep. For that. And also for thinking I was beyond that, perhaps even above it. And mostly for judging other people when I’ve seen them struggling with the “Oh, poor me”s, something I have so little patience for.
Why am I telling you this? Well… Because… it seems only fair. It’s not right, somehow, to act like I have it all figured out. I don’t necessarily think I’m claiming I do when I share insight on here, but I guess it could be implied, so I want to provide this proof right now that I don’t feel that way. I have nothing figured out for me. I may have slightly more figured out for you. Har har.
I also wanted to let you know that I reread my post to newly published writers, and I still stand by everything I said in that post, even when—especially when—applying it to myself. Only I have a fresher appreciation for how hard it is to keep those things in mind while feeling a bit miffed or wronged or frustrated, or whatever one happens to feel when one pours that pint of water into the lake, and it barely causes a ripple, even in the waters closest to us.
I had some newer, harsher advice for myself recently: grow up and buck up… and speak up, if it’s really that important to you. If it’s not worth saying something, then it’s not worth sulking about. Because really…? Honestly…? Nobody has time to even notice that you’re sulking about anything. And it’s not affecting their lives a single bit. It’s just turning you into a sour, resentful poo-face that nobody wants to be around. And if they’re not around, they can’t tell you’re upset about something. And if they are around, do you want to waste time whining or arguing or dwelling on unpleasantness? Not really.
Grow up. Buck up. Lighten up.
I’m sure I’ll be rereading this post to myself sometime in the future, too. Growing up is a never-ending process, apparently, that requires many reminders.