I can’t tell you how many years of my life I have spent believing all of the awful things people that didn’t like me told me or that I told myself. I would see what other people are doing with their lives and families and careers and would think What Am I Doing Wrong? I would look at other authors, some I knew, some I didn’t, and would be upset with myself that I wasn’t doing as well or selling as many books. It was like a mantra marching through my mind – not good enough, not good enough, not good enough, not good enough.
I’d never be good enough.
I’d never get the job I wanted.
I’d never get the job I deserved.
I’d never sell books.
I’d never find an audience.
I’d never do this, I’d never do that, I’d never be this, I’d never be that.
It was as if all of the things I had told myself as a teenager were manifesting and haunting me.
How could I ever reach my potential if…but…what…
And then you stop and you have to take a breath and remember that the world doesn’t owe you.
No one owes you.
You don’t even always get the chance to earn some things.
Sometimes the breaks come where they may.
Sometimes, as they say, bad things happen to good people just as good things happen to rotten people.
Once in a while life balances.
I don’t believe in Karma so much as the fact that if you keep playing with fire you will get burned.
Sure, some awful people get away with things and get away with them forever.
But not all the time.
I remember a bully I used to know who loved to just be ceaselessly mean to people that annoyed him. There was no deeper rhyme or reason, this was just him. He was broken inside, sure, but people loved him.
He was funny.
And as long as he wasn’t making fun of you, it’s all good.
I hate how long we were friends.
I have talked about this idiot before and even what I am about to ‘say’ but wanted to use it as a point.
He was a bully and didn’t care who he hurt.
Flash forward to decades later and he’s married and his stepdaughter one day kills herself because she was bullied to a point where she felt she wanted to die.
I don’t know if he ever had a moment where he realized that the kids that did that to her were simply the same as he was, that he could have done the same to someone and never cared.
Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t.
But as King says, the wheel turns and in some way, we all feel its weight eventually.
No, I am not where I wish I was.
Welcome to humanity, where few of us ever live up to whatever unstated dreams or ideas we have.
It’s SUPER frustrating to know I have been writing for twenty-five years and am still not selling books or getting interest. It’s painful because it’s my passion, but that’s the way it goes. For me and lots of creatives. How many artists had to die to become discovered and their work put in a different context?
Perhaps we all need a voice not our own to promote what we do, because they can see it in a light we never catch.
There are countless musical acts and bands that I adore that never found the fame that I feel they deserved. That just finally ran out of steam and broke up or faded away.
There are filmmakers with vision that never got the project that would get them into the light.
This happens all the time, to all of us.
Maybe you deserve a promotion but never got seen.
Maybe you deserve love but never found the person that saw past themselves to see you.
Maybe life has never been fair, it just doesn’t play favorites and the ones that ‘win’ at it learn to take the opportunities afforded them or use their way up.
We spend so much time judging how happy and successful other people are without even knowing their hearts, their lives, or what they wanted for themselves.
We obsess over celebrities and the rich when the baggage they were born with and found along the way never left, it just got so they could have someone carry it for them.
I get so caught up in looking at what I never achieved and don’t see what I have.
And I have said that before, but now I want to look at the people I know.
I think we sometimes miss how amazing the people around us are.
The designer that built themselves like a dress and created their own business.
The collector who turns their passion into profit.
The thrifter who learns enough about the business to turn a home shop into a storefront.
The artist who keeps at their craft long enough to become the ‘go-to’ paintbrush pusher people turn to for work.
The band that works at it hard enough and long enough that their connections in the industry give them a break.
Or just the friends we have that may not have the job they want, or the money they want, but they make us laugh and find the good in us we don’t often see ourselves.
You see, it’s not just about not seeing the wonder in ourselves and the magic in the common things we do that don’t impress us, but it matters. All of it matters.
Getting out of bed when we don’t want to matters.
Going to work when we have no interest matters.
We forget so often that the only race we run in life is against ourselves and too many of us lose because we realize that too late.
Sure, we’d all like more things, especially happiness, but unless we appreciate the things we do have, we’ll never really have those moments in the darkness where we can use these as lights to find our way out of it.
The heck of it is that the only one who gets to decide if we’re good enough is us. Sure, we’d love to be accepted and loved by everyone. We’d love to be admired and revered. We’d love all of that stuff. But at the very end of it all we’re alone with ourselves and if we can’t accept that we lived the best life we could, that we did all that we were able, and that we made the most of the life we had then we’ll die regretting all of it.
All of those small moments, those first kisses, those hugs, those held hands, those laughs with friends, those tender moments with lovers, those small victories will all account for nothing because we let the things that didn’t go our way rule us.
We should always strive to be better and to better love the people around us and better live the life we have.
And we should regret.
Regret our flaws, regret our missed opportunities, and regret the things that never were and we should use them as kindling to drive us forward against the waves. Use them to light the way forward and to remind us that without those things we may never appreciate the successes and wonders of life when we find them.
It’s a rough life for all of us. None of us is as favored as people may think and few of us are as lucky as others may believe. Most of us are just doing the best we can and trying to overcome the nasty mantra that thrums in our heads all the time.
Never can-never can-never can.
Sure, we’ll never live every dream, few of us will find the success and wealth we think we deserve, but my god, the wonders we will see. And to be surrounded by people who make you laugh, people who love you, and people who accept you as you are is pretty amazing. It won’t pay the bills but it will keep us going as we do what we must to keep the lights on, both inside and out.