Get ready to ramble…
I mentioned in a previous post how I have been meeting with other writers that I admire, mostly to fangirl, but also to see if they have some deep-rooted secrets I don’t. Sharing some juicy info + writing inspo, ftw. The thing is, I haven’t come out of the meetings with any information I didn’t already know for myself.
Now, I don’t mean for that to sound smug or conceited, because that’s not my intention at all – rather, I find myself a mixture of disappointment, surprise, relief, and lastly, much more confident in myself and my abilities. I keep hoping to hear something that never occurred to me, but it hasn’t happened (yet). Usually the tips that are handed over to me are literally what I did, step-by-step when I started writing and getting published. I’m always proud to think I didn’t even Google “how to” – I just acted on what made sense to me.
As one writer ticked off her tips while I listened and told myself not to interrupt with “yeah I know, did it” (which she is now offering as a paid course, btw), I asked her my burning question. “But, like, what you write about is basically common sense stuff to you, right? Like there wasn’t some magical source of information offering you all the answers to the dilemmas we offer advice on?” She kind of just nodded and said yeah.
And so, I felt validated – but then I realized how ridiculous it was that I was unconsciously seeking such validation in the first place. Why did I give a fuck? Had I not achieved my own personal/professional successes already? Why would a yes or no from her change that? I reeled myself back in.
I am a huge fan of Mark Manson and his writing, long before he published “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” (loved Thirty Years Young‘s review of it, btw – check it out.). My favorite personal motto has been “I don’t give a f*ck” for years (not sure if this is something to boast about, but it has worked to my advantage at least).
While I love his book, it’s a sore spot for me, because the entire time I read it, I felt like I literally could have written it, if somehow I had realized earlier that I was in fact a writer, and if I had enough sense to break down what is such a simple fucking concept. That’s the thing about the best ideas – they are all fairly simple in nature. It’s the moment that you read something and think how profound it is that it was there all along. So bravo to Mark, and to generally giving really simple, great advice.
I recently was contacted by a family friend of my ex (whom I have always loved – the family friend, that is). We are friends on Facebook, but we don’t necessarily catch up on the regular, and I haven’t seen her in quite some time. She reached out to congratulate me on the blog/writing/professional wins, complimented me on how beautiful she thinks I am and always was, and generally had a lot of really sweet, positive things to say.
Then she ended with a small lecture on my ex / how once I learn to get past my bitterness, I can finally find happiness again. Whoa, wait, I’m sorry – what?!
I literally re-read her message 5 times, slack-jawed and amazed. Besides how rude and completely off-base it was, the worst part is that I truly know she meant no harm. It wasn’t as simple as writing it off with a “fuck off.” But, for me it was scary to think she actually believed it was true. My mind started searching for why, thinking about how sometimes I post about my experiences with my ex (and I always will, I fucking lived it after all, and hello, I’m a writer for fucks sake) and misconstrued it as not being past it all.
Part of me considered completely blowing off that part and just responding to the rest of her message. She was acknowledging the successes I had found after he and I split, and how far I’ve come. Great, thank you. The thing is, I couldn’t let the rest go – I had to address it. Nearly a decade later and I am still being painted as a victim at the hand of my ex. Fuck that.
So I wrote back to her.
I thanked her for the compliments and acknowledging that I “had the power all along.” But then I carefully explained how her other statements were not only untrue, but inappropriate. “The thing is, I can’t defend this to you and explain how beyond over it/him I am, because the thing with defending yourself at all is… it sounds defensive…lol.” I then went on to explain that I’ve been in love a number of times since, and X isn’t exactly one that I’m hung up on. When she responded with apologies and explained it was just her assumption (why – because I’m single?), I again shook my head and told myself to just shake it off and put it in the “don’t give a fuck about this” pile.
People will assume whatever they want about you if you let them – and if you give a fuck. That’s when they have the power – because you handed it over to them.
I recently came across an old resume I had from when I was a brand new writer, and it made me utter an “aww” out loud. I literally only had a few smaller, no-name outlets to boast of, but I remember how proud I was of them. It made me really appreciate the portfolio I have now (which, of course, is not ‘complete’ as I see it).
However, it also made me remember a realllly embarrassing incident that happened during that time that made me completely doubt myself and my abilities for, I don’t know, like two whole months after.
I’m totally going to share because 1. it’s funny now and 2. I don’t give a f. (see a theme?) Plus, the best stories are the super embarrassing ones.
One of my ex’s (if that’s the appropriate term) that I had continually fed career advice throughout our relationship was in a new relationship, and his new gf was now a career coach, ironically. I discovered this fact because I love reading career articles (can you tell, now that I write them) and there was a coach quoted within one of the articles. I couldn’t place why the name looked familiar, so I clicked on it. So sweet and innocent I was back then.
Please, I beg of you, don’t be like me. So. Naive. NEVER CLICK THE LINK. If it looks familiar, it’s probably a trap.
Because, of COURSE, it led me right to her LinkedIn profile. I threw my phone away in horror, knowing she’d see I was creeping – but, but, I wasn’t even TRYING. REAL STALKERS DON’T CLICK. THEY DON’T CONFIRM!
Did I mention that I had just written an article that was published like a week prior that kinda sorta referenced bits and pieces of my ex/her (which, at the time I had written lightheartedly, giggling, all in fun) but now I was all OMG imagine how it looks. My ex actually told me prior that his gf followed my work and read what I wrote. I thought it was weird – kinda that she did but more so that he told me about it. In theory, I should have told myself whatever, it’s LinkedIn, and she was looking at my shit, obv. Get over it.
But I didn’t. I panicked. Because back then, I gave lots of fucks.
I texted our mutual friend and asked for advice, and she panicked right along with me. I said, I have to contact him and explain, otherwise it looks like I’m stalking her, blah blah blah. Literally as we are texting debating on whether I should or not, a notification pops up at the top of my screen from Instagram that he just liked my photo… the one promoting THAT article. I am pretty sure a part of me died inside right then. But then when I went to check… he had unliked it.
With my heart now residing in my stomach, my friend agreed I needed to reach out (which confirmed to me how bad it really was). So I did. What transpired next still kind of amazes me.
After some awkward small talk, we discussed my writing and how it was going. At that time I was all about getting published in Cosmo (still on the list, but not be all, end all). I had already acknowledged that his gf had become a career coach, good for her, blah blah blah… and then I made a joke about how perhaps I’d ask her about my writing.
He then handed her the phone.
It wasn’t bad enough to know all this had happened, but that it obv happened while they were sitting side-by-side – yikes. Oh, and he thought I actually needed her advice, apparently. It still gets worse, though.
She basically proceeded to offer to share some info she was working on for a client (which she never did, btw, can’t imagine why) and I played along, because, well, what was I supposed to do? I couldn’t be like ummm… I was kidding I didn’t want to talk to you, I was just joking (no beef, but really). And then she said, “well, the work you’re doing is good and all, but you’re not actually a journalist as far as what you write.”
The words were careful and well-placed (amid the spelling and grammatical errors that I felt were mocking me in irony), but it was a dig. I mean, it had to be, right?
I am not sure if I have ever experienced such a spiral of shame – lol. My cheeks were bright scarlet for at least a full 24 hours after. But I was literally stunned into silence.
My friend, however, properly verbalized the outrage.
“He gave HER the phone?! Are you KIDDING ME?! Not only did he violate the trust you had – you texted HIM, but – she is 25, what kind of life/career advice is she going to offer YOU?! She’s been working for what, two full years?! You have dealt with marriage, motherhood, and divorce…watched your ex struggle and buckle to addiction… you have picked up the pieces and dealt with the aftermath of it all: court battles and custody with your chin and head up BEFORE the age of 30. Now you’re singlehandedly raising your son – who is AMAZING and smart, while making a good living – without a college degree to boot – and oh by the way, did he forget where all his career advice used to come from?! Get the FUCK outta here.”
Yep. She said more, but that about summed it up.
But the thing is, I let that girl’s words and the meanings (or at least, the ones I imagined as my deepest insecurities grabbed hold and flooded through me) take me down temporarily. I literally didn’t write for two months. It wasn’t her, but I let her be the vehicle for my self-doubt. I let her validation matter, when I don’t even know who she is – or why her opinion should matter.
I am quite proud of my portfolio these days, and write quite often about Impostor Syndrome, and not feeling good enough. It happens to everyone, but you can’t let it consume you.
So my point in this entirely too long, rambling post is to tune out other people and remember that they don’t know you, what you’re about, or what you’re capable of.
Validate your fucking self.
with love + rosé,
My apologies to those that may think they recognize themselves here. It’s kind of like what comedians say, their families and friends get dragged into their work against their will. Samezies.
I write about my life and my experiences, and there’s really no time limit on those ‘discussions’… after all, they are part of what make me who I am. I am a big fan of reflection and always have been – I believe (and hope) it helps me grow as a person – and a writer.
So, with that said – enjoy 🙂