Yes, I know the title is total click-bait, but GOOD. It means you’re here and might even read on. I may be the only person who thinks this: Stop lying! Everyone knows you’re a fraud (fake, poseur, hot mess, etc.). Or, perhaps I am the only one willing to admit it, on-line, in words, preserved for posterity…or posterior. Showing my posterior, at least.
Meh, I have no pride.
But wait, maybe I do. Maybe I have a lot of pride, too much even. And that’s a huge part of my problem.
For years, I’d have the same sort of nightmare over and over. In the dream I’d be a successful whatever (doctor, lawyer, author) and my high school guidance counselor would show up to inform me all my credentials were worthless, because I never truly graduated high school.
I’d failed to complete ONE class (usually something stupid like Health or P.E.).
Since I’d gained entry to my advanced education by lying about having a high school diploma, I had to go back to high school and do everything all over since none of it counted.
In the dream, I’d be thirty or forty years old, yet put back in the tenth grade. Why the tenth? Because, DUH! It had been so many years since I’d attended high school that most of my credits were no longer valid.
All this was my own fault.
If I hadn’t lied my way through life, I wouldn’t be sitting in a room with a bunch of fourteen-year-olds reading The Great Gatsby for the seventh time (and still hating it).
This was the punishment a fraud like me deserved. I’d spent most of my life fooling people, lying, convincing them I was someone I wasn’t and this was my penalty. After years of ‘covering this up,’ they’d found me out.
What’s really odd about all these dreams was…I agreed.
How had I managed to make it decades with no one suspecting it was ALL a charade? Did I really expect to ‘get away’ with it?
There is a name for this, by the way: Impostor Syndrome. Good news is it mainly afflicts those who are high achievers—GOLD STAR FOR YOU!
Bad news? It can make life hell.
Going out on a limb here, but I’m assuming I’m not the only person who’s had these sorts of dreams, thoughts and feelings.
When I pay attention to the junk I tell myself, it’s enough to give me pause. Would I EVER talk to another person, even a stranger, the way I (often) talk to myself?
So where’s this garbage coming from?
It can stem from a lot of areas, but today we’re going to hone in on one. The feeling of being a fraud is a toxic byproduct of overachieving. Overachieving, as I’m learning, is my main go-to defense mechanism. If I’m red-lining day after day to DO ALL THE THINGS, I never have to slow down…and feel.
Feelings are scary. Not simply some feelings but ALL feelings. I don’t dare cry because I’m terrified I might never stop. That and, who likes weak, needy people, right? I can’t bear to feel anger because it’s too much. I’ve stuffed down so much rage, it feels like a peat fire that’s been burning for a thousand years.
What’s worse is that, not only have I avoided ‘bad’ feelings, but I’ve also avoided any good feelings (joy) because I don’t want to get too attached.
God forbid I relish in a great moment, because the longer I stay there the more it will hurt when it’s gone. These happy times are sort of like farm animals.
Don’t name them or you’ll get too attached.
What makes this toxic approach particularly insidious is that being a super high-achiever is a socially encouraged. It’s also a socially rewarded coping/escape mechanism.
Our culture rewards over-achievers. Why? Well *flips hair* first, we get $#!@ done. Secondly, we are (over)responsible, (over)dependable, and guaranteed not to burden anyone else by having any ‘needs.’ We’re an inspiration, a role model, and SO, SO STRONG!
Which is why everyone is surprised when we finally fall apart. Why? Pain is a signal we need to TEND something. We either need to fix it, face it, flush it or just FEEL it.
Case in point…
Years ago, I fractured my back. The doctors refused to give me any pain meds (which was a BLAST!)…or not. The reason? They wanted me to feel pain. If they gave me drugs that numbed all pain, the break would never heal. Since I’d be incapable of FEELING my limitations, the break would never heal or I’d likely make it worse.
Same with over-achieving. But being a high-achiever is far more dangerous. Broken bones we can see. Broken hearts? Not so much. Crushed discs show up on an MRI, whereas crushed dreams do not.
Alas, there is pain and so we get BUSY BEING AWESOME…and numb. In fact, everyone around us cheers us on, which is odd if we look at the behavior for what it is, and what it’s related TO.
If we started our day with a couple shots of vodka in our orange juice, society would judge us…harshly. If we smoked a joint, gambled away our rent money on-line, or snorted a few lines of cocaine using our kid’s Capri-Sun straw, we’d be a MONSTER.
Oh, but wake at 4:00 a.m. to go to the gym, pack GF-dairy-free-soy-free-non-GMO lunches for the kids, journal/meditate, and have all the emails returned before sunrise? Then work full-steam ten hours, write novels, blog, do all the laundry, and volunteer for every school event and never need help?
We’re a SUPERSTAR…which is we why HAVE to document all this on Instagram.
The snorting cocaine? Not so much. Yeah keep that off Instagram.
Sure, life is hard and there’s pain, sickness, death and loss. Nothing a great inspirational quote can’t fix.
***Remember to post it on Facebook, though 😛 .
No matter how much we might need to stop, to feel, to rest, we simply…can’t. We’re too strong to be so weak.
My parents divorced when I was ten, during a time when it was NOT common for people to divorce. My father, who was a super fun guy—but about as useful as ice trays in hell—did what any self-centered man-child would do. He took off for parts unknown where he could get out of paying a dime of child support.
Mom sent me to counseling, where the seeds of fraud could open and take root. Everything was fine. I was a straight-A student (all Honors classes), a first-chair clarinetist, teacher’s pet, did all my chores (and my little brother’s), cleaned the house and helped pay the bills. Sure I was only a kid, but childhood was overrated.
No, I didn’t miss my dad at ALL and I was SUPER GREAT!
Weird thing was the counselors bought it. All the adults bought it. I was only eleven years old and had them totally fooled. Better still? I’d fooled myself as well.
Why did I do this? First, my mom was in pain and I didn’t want to add to her pain. Besides, there were starving children in Africa, families caught in genocide, and innocent animals with no homes *plays Sarah McLauchlan*.
No one cared to hear my whining. What began as a childhood coping mechanism eventually became so ingrained in me, I no longer even noticed it. Had no clue how HORRIBLE my thinking was.
I know my grandmother just died, but who has time to cry when the closets are all such a mess? Not like crying is going to bring her back.
Social media has SO many incredible benefits. Blogging has helped me grow as a writer and a human being. I’ve even been brave enough to write posts about—GASP—being a recovering jerk.
***FYI, I am still in recovery.
Yet, I find it fascinating and heartbreaking how we are more ‘connected’ than ever in human history, but more isolated than ever before. The potential for deeper relationships is there, but so often we’re afraid. If they knew who I REALLY was (fill in blank here).
It’s why so I feel so many of us writers struggle to feel the joy of authentic achievement. We’ve been shoved into a world of ‘author participation trophies’ and are uncertain if our writing is any good or if the algorithms had a glitch that day. Sun spots? Hackers?
My book hit #3 in mystery! …for three minutes. WHY did I refresh the page? It DID hit #3 right? I should’ve taken a screenshot.
Sure, I’ve written 1400 blogs and four books, but I’m not a REAL writer because I haven’t bought a beach house in cash.
My book is doing great, but not because the writing is excellent. It sold because I did a TON of social media marketing and promotion.
*head explodes* *brains in keyboard with chip crumbs*
Uncouple from the Cray-Cray Train
Why did I write this post? …good question. Why DID I write this post? Oh, yeah. Recently, I heard a cool analogy from Andrea Owen that made me stop amidst my ugly crying about what a failure-loser-jerk-horrible-person-fraud I was (am).
I’ll confess. I can be pretty ba—positively ridiculous. Who cares that I wrote 4,000 words and edited 60 pages in one day? My kitchen is a wreck, there’s cat fur on everything, I can’t even FIND my organizer, and…have I washed my hair?
Anyway, Andrea’s analogy stopped me in the spiral of I-So-Suck long enough to breathe. Paraphrasing Andrea, say you hosted a HUGE party at your home with all the food and fun and drinks and games. You wake the next day to what? A mess. What’s the first thing you start doing?
Relish in the JOY of what a fantastical night and how you made marvelous memories for you and all the guests!
I imagine many of you answered ‘cleaning’ (or going back to bed).
All right, cleaning is great, but maybe turn the LIGHTS on first? Yes, maybe we have a mess, but until we shine a light on what’s around us, we have no way to discern what needs to be tossed, washed, saved or stored. Too many of us have on the rubber gloves and are cleaning away…in the dark.
As long as we are moving, we’re fine. Yet, we are anything BUT fine.
This is why I’d like to introduce you to my new way of coping in a healthier way. I’m calling it WTH therapy.
Just Ask, W.T.H.?
Since overachieving and being busy has been our go-to for so long, many of us spiral into self-hate and feeling like a fraud if we don’t ‘have it all together’ (whatever that means). Sometimes, organizing, working, writing, cleaning, learning Swahili while folding socks is the drug of choice that calms us (numbs us). Yet, all this hustle is simply masking what’s causing such unease.
Thus, I challenge all of us to stop, drop and ask W.T.H.?
What am I really feeling?
Think about why X seems like such a priority, disaster, setback, etc.
Have a good laugh, cry, or fit.
You’re NOT a Fraud, You Are HUMAN
Crazy, right? Humans are imperfect and surrounded by other humans who are ALSO imperfect. We mess up. There is no way we can do ALL the things. We have to choose or we will drive ourselves and everyone around us insane. Besides, when everything is important, nothing is.
Many of us over-achievers have to let go of some deeply ingrained cray-cray.
First, numbing only works so long. Like any drug, we’ll require increasing doses to maintain the numb. We grow so accustomed to ‘achieving’ that we no longer even feel any kind of high because we’re onto the next thing.
Eventually we burn out. Because we’re ‘crushing goals’ for the wrong reasons, our accomplishments won’t bring us joy. Why? Because joy was never the goal.
Avoiding pain and seeking joy are two completely different goals.
We’re feeling like a fraud because we keep setting a standard we can never reach (or if we DO reach it, then it was a fluke so notch that baby HIGHER).
This means we lose before we even start. The hard part of all this is realizing we can change by being more intentional and slowing down. Perhaps work, achieving, ‘keeping it all together’ has gotten out of hand, exacerbated when life is falling apart.
But, sometimes it’s better to let ‘whatever’ fall apart. Maybe it’s time it does. Perhaps X keeps falling to pieces because it’s dead and we’re unwilling to face we’re holding onto something that died a long time ago (like a friendship, family relationships, a business, that first novel, etc.).
Maybe we are, maybe we aren’t. Thing is, we won’t know unless we let go.
What Are Your Thoughts?
Are you ridiculously hard on yourself? If you stopped to really ponder the standard you hold yourself to, what would it look like? *Release the Kraken!*
Have you used work, achievement, To Do Lists, cleaning, volunteering as a way to distract from pain you have NO idea how to feel, let alone face?
Yesterday, I finally fell apart on the phone with a long-time friend. In my defense, it was completely Jay’s fault. He said something like, “Hey, how’s it going?”
Eventually, Jay talked me off the ledge and got me to fess up. I said I felt like the people in Joplin, Missouri after that big tornado in 2011 that leveled the city—just shellshocked, ears ringing, unsure if I was injured, with no idea what to feel first, where to begin, what to do.
My head was chaos with so much I’d stuffed down over the past few years. Since I hadn’t said them all aloud, confessed them to anyone fully… I was imploding.
My inner critic was getting louder and louder with nonsense like, ‘Sure, you cleaned the kitchen, but what about the BATHROOM? How can you write novels when you can’t even find the bottom of your CLOSET?’
Yeah, that’s SUPER helpful *rolls eyes*.
My inner critic was also distracting me with dusty baseboards when I REALLY needed to grieve some pretty HORRIBLE events our family has endured (including, but not limited to, now FIFTEEN deaths in FIVE years).
Perhaps there were some BIGGER issues to face than dusty baseboards?
Do you use achievement, perfectionism, goals, business to hide and numb? Is it getting harder and harder to please, appease or even silence that inner critic? Do you have a hard time accepting a compliment, enjoying a good moment, embracing an achievement? Struggle with feeling you’re a fraud?
When others try to help, are you terrified to let them? OR—HORRORS—ASK?
I’m the first to move heaven and earth to help anyone anytime, but am terrified of asking for help. Seriously, this is me…
Hey! I’m a work in progress, too!
I love hearing from you!
What do you WIN? For the month of JUNE, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
But… but… but… I _can’t_! Stop lying, I mean! It’s what I _do_! I tell people things that never happened, happened, and I say how they happened to people who, um, don’t exist! It’s like one of those something-or-other Anon meetings. Like, ‘My name’s Mumblety Mumble and I confess – I’m a liar!’ Then everyone claps and tells me I’ve made the first step on some 999999 step program.
Hey – hang on. I don;t _want_ to be cured. Not ever. So hey! This is me! Mumblety Mumble! And I’m a LIAR! (blush)
OK – I know. Nothing to do with your post, really. Thanks for letting me get it off my chest. Now I’d better go tell some more lies – I’ve a manuscript to finish! 🙂 🙂 🙂
inner critic – I’ve decided that mine gets to work only half day a week.
I used to be one of those over-the-top over-achievers, but all it took to KILL it was a couple of personal tragedies that sent me into monumental UNDER-achiever depression (I lost my dearest, BEST friend and also my older sister in short order to cancer). Now, every single day I have to psyche myself up just to find a reason to keep going on, starting with getting out of bed, which I never want to do! And my writing? All those 3/4 finished novels and my short film screenplay that Sir Paul McCartney was even once interested in producing…I CANNOT FIND EVEN AN OUNCE of the old passion and enthusiasm to write that used to be such a fire in my belly and my brain. However, the upside of this situation is that now I can look back on my over-achieving personality and realize just how much I actually deceived myself into thinking that all of the PUSH PUSH PUSH to ACHIEVE MORE MORE MORE is not what the meaning of life really is. Yes, it would be wonderfully rewarding to finally publish something (my historical fiction novel first) and become one more link in the immortal chain of literature, but I just don’t think I can do it at a panic-ridden pace anymore. Since my greatest fans/champions are no longer here for me, it’s much more difficult. I’ve lost my joie de vivre in spades, and ANY words of encouragement from ANYONE on this blog would be much appreciated. I hope that ALL of you achieve your dreams, but try not to lose sight of what’s really important in life while you rush to get to your rainbow.
Hon, I totally understand. There have been days, especially this past year, that I felt I had to hang onto the legs of the furniture to keep from giving up completely. It’s why I write these posts. To be transparent and show that we are all struggling at one time or another. Writers don’t live in a snow globe. We have to write, create, imagine, and also do all the un-fun stuff like revisions, business, etc. and often in the midst of life collapsing all around us. In a filtered world, we struggle to balance between being phony and being a wet blanket. The more ‘friends’ we make on-line, the fewer people we seem to see in person.
***Though I WILL say some of the dearest friends I have (who HAVE been there for me) I met on-line.
We are bombarded daily with everyone else’s ‘highlight reels’ and though logically we KNOW their life isn’t dancing unicorns 24/7, our emotions frequently don’t get the memo. It’s why I built and pay for http://wanatribe.com/ . Sure, it costs me money, but there are no ads and there is a strong support group of friends I see every day. When times get really dark, I know they’ll be there even if to make me laugh or lighten the HELL UP.
I am 44 and still a work in progress, learning to have fun, to lighten up, to let Hubby fold the towels like some BARBARIAN. Seriously who folds towels just any which way? ANARCHISTS.
These posts aren’t easy to write, but they aren’t as tough to write as they used to be. So, progress not perfection 😀 . Join us at the Tribe. We’ve been sprinting there every day pretty much all day for three years.
Husbands are meant to be like that. Mine leaves kitchen tissue all over the place. He uses it, and if it’s only a teensy bit dirty, he puts id down. Presumably to use again. He also NEVER tears it or toilet paper off at the perforations, leaving a sliver of tissue behind. Grrrrrr.
Anyway, I know I’m a fraud. I was a fraud as a mother, but my kids have grown up into smashing human beings. I was a fraud as a teacher. But kids said they wanted to be put in my class rather than another teacher’s because I controlled them better. Now I’m a fraud as a writer. Hey ho. One day I’ll get found out for something.
Hi Caprezia, beautiful name, yip – it’s ‘re-evaluate what’s really important in our lives time’ for many of us. Cos the plain fact of the matter is we’re all here just doing our best. Each day. And we’re all just ‘filling in time’….with whatever. Or maybe waiting to see if there really is a hereafter….? Writing’s been the best way for me to work thru stuff in the past, as well as try and work out who the hell I really am? What do I really want? Who do I want to spend my time with? Who really matters to me? What really matters to me? Getting there. Still a work in progress too. And I haven’t had any fiction published in book form either. Have had some non-fiction published and I know to some folks that would amount to being ‘nothing’ in their eyes. But to me, at the time and even now, it did amount to something. I’m grateful for it. And I’ve finally realised that’s all that matters. It’s how I feel and what I think that matters. Once we stop running on the treadmill for others, and trying to be who someone else thinks we should be, the real meaning of life takes on a whole new concept. I believe all of life is actually about the relationships we form with others. The lessons we learn from those relationships and people. The lessons we share within those relationships. It’s not about money, status or power. It’s about being kind to others. Genuine. Loving. Now, to your deep as the ocean and very real grief; honey, allow yourself the time to grieve. There’s no time frame on how long that takes. Be kind to yourself. Accepting the physical loss of those much loved people takes as long as it takes. I know that’s clichéd. But it’s true. I work with a healing modality (Mind, Body & Bowen) and having our lives in balance in all the key areas (physical, mental, emotional & spiritual – and that’s about your inner spirituality not some regimented doctrine of any particular persuasion) is crucial to being happy ‘within’. For me, healing grief came from simple things like watching the sunrise or set, enjoying a fresh pot of tea with my best china cup to drink it from, a chat with a sincere and kind friend, a trip to ocean to smell the salty air and feel the sea breeze on my face… you get my drift. Take good care of yourself. And know that you are precious. Unique. There is only one of you and YOU are a part ‘of the whole’ of this amazing world. This goes for all of us. Kindest thoughts to you. Gaylene.
Honey, to give you your own words ‘YOU ARE NOT ALONE’! Seriously, you are not. I had a major meltdown just over 5 years ago (which had been building – a demanding close familial relationship tipped me over the edge and I used to be a ‘people pleaser’). Nearly all of your post could’ve been written by me. With some changes to the birth family circumstances (insert alcoholic abusive father here – who was an angel and such a kind man when he was sober). Anyway, just know this, ‘YOU ARE PERFECT AS YOU ARE’! All ‘the good’, ‘the bad’ and the downright ‘fuggly’ (I’ll leave you to work out what that means) in our pasts has got us to where we are in this moment-today. Which is exactly where you/we should be. Embrace it. Be grateful for it. I know I am. Now. It’s all part of our life’s apprenticeship. And if you need to change some stuff then do it. Step back and get off the spinning merry-go-round and let yourself ‘just be who you are’. I met you briefly at a conference in NZ last year and I saw a beautiful, kind and very loving soul. Give yourself some of that love, time and kindness! Time to nurture you! Love your posts. They’re real. They’re always helpful to so many. Thank you so much for writing them. Kindest thoughts to you always. Gaylene.
Thanks, Gaylene! I miss you guys and miss NZ! I was on some shaky ground when I met you, but after I returned home—barely outrunning Hurricane Harvey—it was like BAM, BAM, BAM, BAM. I couldn’t recover from one hit without getting another. I know life goes in cycles and you simply have to ride it out. My greatest strength is I am stubborn. My greatest weakness? I am stubborn. But, I am getting better every day ((HUGS)).
Love that! Getting better everyday goes for all of us! Nothing wrong with a bit of stubborn either, I have my fair share of it! Warmest hugs to you too, G.
You could have been reading my mind with this post, it fits me so perfectly. I’m coming to realize that there is no point where I will feel that I have succeeded, because I always move the goal post further, until it’s on the moon, and nothing I’ve achieved matters in the shadow of all that I have yet to accomplish.
This is definitely something I need to work on, because I want to take joy in my accomplishments and stop focusing on those dusty baseboards. ?
Great post! Very thought provoking as always, and I just love the humor that is in all your posts, no matter how serious and heavy the subject matter.
First off, I’m so sorry what’s happened. If I lost that much family I wouldn’t have a family left. I couldn’t imagine what you’re going through, only maybe a fraction of it. I’m glad you had someone to talk to (and not some shrink that’s paid to nod and judge). To me, that’s the most important thing, just to have someone listen to our pain. To know, understand, and sympathize.
This article hit home with me. My father passed away recently and quite suddenly. I’m still in shock. He was the first person I’ve lost that’s been close to me. There’s always been this dam of sadness inside and it trickles (sometimes gushes) out and since this happened I’ve been in a daze more so.
Anyway! Before I blabber on and on I know what you’re saying. Some people say ‘just don’t think about it’ or ‘distract yourself’ which as you said, isn’t good. Some people plainly don’t want to hear anything negative or depressing.
Everyone copes in their own way, but there is bad coping and ‘better’ coping that helps you move forward (what are they again?). I have no wisdom to share, I’m just as broken as everyone else.
Most important to have someone to talk to, because breaking down in front of strangers is embarrassing. What do we do when we don’t have anyone we feel we can share our deepest pain with… I’ve no clue. Maybe that’s why people bottle things up or shrinks have jobs.
What was my point again? Don’t mind me, this is just me rambling…
Thanks for sharing. I think the article resonates with a lot of people.
But see, you aren’t rambling or babbling or being a bother at all. You are taking time to share and let me (and others) know we aren’t ready candidates for the freak show.
You’re hurting and that’s what we are all struggling with. You mean it is OKAY to HURT when we lose people we LOVE? When we lose a job, or a friendship or get hit with divorce or failure? We can…be sad?
It’s seriously absurd how this high-speed world seems to want to put healing in hyperdrive as well. We hide behind emojis and quotes and since no one sees us in person (like they did 15 years ago) it makes it worse. At least for me. I always was terrible asking for help and now I am ridiculous (working on that).
I, too, lost my dad suddenly and unexpectedly (and he was the first person I lost who was close to me). I KID YOU NOT. My dad died at like 6:30 in the evening on a Friday, and I showed up to work 9:00 Saturday morning. Everyone was all ‘WTH are you DOING HERE?’ Me: Um, I’m on the schedule?
It never occurred to me not to show up for my shift.
The tricky part of grief is also that the worst part is the aftershocks. At the funeral, you are shell-shocked and so much to do. THAT is when people are checking on us and there to offer comfort and food. What about 6 weeks later when the pain REALLY hits and you can’t get out of bed? I know that when people around me go through a loss, I make it a point to check in in 4, 6, 12 weeks because the pain isn’t always immediate and it is LATER we really need comfort (and PIE).
As for my family? It’s insane. I just about was processing one death when here came ANOTHER. Was considering asking local funeral home for a punch-card. Maybe a discount? Granted, it goes with an aging family but still. *taps out*
I guess that’s why I rally myself now and again to get brave and write blogs like these. Seems a nice way to talk to others and know we are all guilty of being absurd and that it’s actually okay to not be made of iron. Great to meet you!
And yeah, I got no wisdom on grieving. I am bad about joking. Comedy is another defense mechanism that I REALLY have to watch. I think lately, just being aware HOW I am checking out is helpful because I can’t work on what I’m not even aware of.
Thanks Kristen, I whole-heartedly appreciate the reply. I hope you never lose your sense of humor because it’s amazing. I envy people who can find humor despite everything because I’m just a big sobbing mess in the corner. Maybe it helps other people more than it helps you… if we all had humor we would be helping each other, maybe. So long as you know it’s a defense mechanism that’s what’s most important, I think. People might be fooled to think that you’re fine when you’re not, I get that. And maybe there are times when people don’t want humor… Ok, if we all have humor AND we can be sad if we want to and need to AND share it freely, that would be the ideal world.
I also admire how brave you are to talk about your pain so openly, something I have to work on. Maybe one day, I’ll be able to fully share how I feel with my family, at least.
All we can do is try.
(“Do or do not, there is no try.” Good thing Yoda isn’t here, if he was real… from Star Wars. See I still have to work on that humor, but I tried!)
Love how you tell it like it is, Kristen! Your honesty at every turn makes me think where I am on the Fraud scale. Probably not asking for personal help over the years. I haven’t figured out if older age, being a nurse practitioner, or retired from the workforce, kind of balanced out the need for that kind of help. I’m just writing my first book, okay ignoring house dust, and garden weeds, but still need tons of author help. Happy writing! Christine
Nope, not ready to face reality. Still prefer workaholic mode. I don’t know how to not believe my world won’t crumble if I act “selfish.”
Wonderful article. I love what you said about that dream. I’ve had the same exact one, to the letter. I also liked the comment you made about “what do you do after the party?” I’m so guilty of that, and I’m going to remember that next time I rush off to shove my joy away.
I actually considered this was I contemplating a day job move. The new job would be more money, more responsibility, and more hours. Yes, the title would be nice, and so would the money, but would I still be home in time for supper every night? Would I still have time to write?
Would I be happier?
The answer was “no”. I decided not to pursue it.
The decision surprised everyone as I’m typically an over-achiever. But I can’t say I’ve regretted it. I like seeing my kids at night, and I’d have never completed my first novel if I’d gone that way.
Glad you are human, Kristen. One thing you didn’t mention is that allowing yourself to feel is the surest way to creating authentic characters. Whatever the ingredients that went into the concoction that is you, it came out great. You make a difference for so many of us.
I wouldn’t call myself a high achiever, but I still have the ability to completely ignore what I have done to focus on what I haven’t done.
Except dusting the baseboards. The mere concept of dusting the baseboard – or skirting-board as we call it here – is a legit joke in our house. As in: “what shall I do now? I could dust the skirting-board! Hahahahaha – no, really, what shall I do now?”
Luckily for me I have a husband who will patiently point out to me all the things I have managed to do. All I need to do now is listen to him :-S
Your honesty is raw, and it comes out in every word you write here. This isn’t something I struggle with, but I was with you through every word of this post. Thank you. I expect your comments to explode with the people who suffer the same, and I want everyone to remember… We Are Not Alone.
Whoa.. eye opener
This quote is so true and resonates deeply with me: “Which is why everyone is surprised when we finally fall apart. Why? Pain is a signal we need to TEND something. We either need to fix it, face it, flush it or just FEEL it.”
I, too, am an overachiever. Kristen, dear heart in Super Stardom, I thank you for writing this post! Remember that 80’s song, “There’s Something About You” by Level 42 with the refrain, “we’re only human after all”? Well, if not, please listen to it. I often feel — no, that’s not right — I KNOW that I’m juggling too many roles, but I tell myself that if I can’t have it all, can’t DO it all, then I’m a worthless loser. But, this mentality has to stop . . .
Long time reader…first time responder. Your post was poignant and valuable. Poignant in that I would wish you only happiness and valuable because-once again-you have articulated the fears of many of us. I have no homilies to make it (synthetically) better. I have faith you will conquer this little “speedbump”…not because you are Wonder Woman…but because I have never heard/read a single lie that you are telling yourself.
Long ago, I wrote the following; “…if you fragment to be many things to many people, you will have no parts left that are yours…” Yes. I am fatally flawed (but consistent). No. I am not a bad person for my flaws. And, yes, I must always be true to my heart. So must you.
Thank you for living and sharing.
When you’re a caregiver, you’re not allowed to get hurt or sick, because the other person is so obviously worse off than you could ever be…and it’s true. Still depressing, though.
First of all, I wanted to say thank you for your blog posts, which are very helpful to my writing fiction.
And, you know, after years of hard work, I have just self-published my debut novel with Kindle Direct Publishing this month, for both ebook and paperback editions. It was frustrating, and I was excited, nervous, and anxious, all at once. During this season of headaches of mine around the book release, reading your blog post is a great relief. Many thanks for this too.
I have followed your short online course on the story’s log-line (but only with the record as I was in Norway that time and missed its timing).
I also admire your boldness, honesty, and endless sense of humor. Your writing 1400 blogs and four books and taking care of your little family are amazing achievements! I also love the nice gestures of people speaking out in your blogs; they are nice souls!
About your question, I now still feel some anxious, and empty–it’s strange, I don’t know why. At the end of the day, writing books may not be a priority to me, though I try so hard to get things done, and to be ready for the second book. Right now, I just need a rest, then clean up my place, which has turned to be a mess these days, then enjoy my upcoming summer days, continuing to read newly-published books of friends with tranquility (those I’ve bought but couldn’t find time to finish them).
Wishing you all a wonderful summertime.
Yours is the only blog I actually read through. I’ve laid aside writing for the time being in favor of a new passion — photography — but still find your posts oh-so-pertinent. What you’re going through now is exactly what I need to hear to navigate my own life. I’ve streamlined so much over the last few years. For one thing, I don’t have the physical energy any longer. For another, I’m much more potent if I concentrate what energy I do have into just a few things.
I used to be so accomplishment-driven, but now? Meh. Who cares if I haven’t swept the floors in a few weeks? I’ll eventually get around to it. What’s more important is bonding with my husband, pouring my heart into photography, and getting enough sleep and rest. There will forever be dishes to wash and laundry to do and weeds to pull. But does checking those things off my list fulfill me or my true purpose? No.
Thanks for encouraging me to lose the guilt — I don’t have to feel bad about not having everything under control. Control is a chimera anyway. All I can control is my attitude and what stems from that: my behavior. Can’t control other people, events, the weather, or our country’s destiny. It’s freeing to realize this. Trouble is, it takes a LONG time to sink in!
Thanks again for sharing your life with us. I so appreciate you!
When everything is important, nothing is.
I’m a recovering perfectionist. A TypeA over-achiever raised and molded by a TypeA-Always-Working-Even-When-Sitting-Down mother. Just when I think I’m finally teaching myself a new mindset, I slide backwards it “do all the things” mode. Ugh.
And asking for help? Are you kidding me? Everyone else has enough on their own plate. They’d only agree to help me out of a sense of guilt or duty. I hate when people make me feel that way, so why would I do it to anyone else? Yeah, the struggle is real.
As for the inner critic, I tie the B**** up with two rolls of duct tape, lock her in a soundproof crate and toss her in the crawl space as far from my office as I can. Sometimes it even shuts her up.
I know the point of this post was to encourage us, but I want to take a paragraph to encourage YOU. You have helped me SO much. I’m still not where I want to be in my writing career (and once I get there, I’ll be moving the finish line because…overachiever), but I am miles ahead of where I would be without your sage advice, boot-in-the-butt critiques and transparency. So, I hope you can feel my hug across the miles and I know you can feel God’s arms around you.
As a recovering perfectionist, I no longer need to get all the ducks in a row before I do my creative work. Have you ever tried to herd ducks in real life? Worse than cats! I give my best energy to my most important work first, then my housework. Not all things have to be excellent all at one time. Priorities clear the mind of stress.
Yes, I get this. It took my own major loss to learn these lessons, a loss so big that I couldn’t ignore it. Grief is hard work. Even now, I’m still learning when I need to stop what I’m doing and feel it, and when it’s okay to just keep going. Hugs, Kristen. Thanks for the reminders that it’s okay not to be okay.
It doesn’t matter what people think or say about you or your goals. Feelings will almost always lie. Only logical examination of the facts is reliable and only to a degree. One should go by the head and not the heart, the heart can’t understand or discern reality. Act according to reasonable assertions based on what is known and not what is felt.
I think we need both. Sort of like science tells us if we can, humanities tells us if we should 😉 .
Yep – it’s all about ‘the balance’; physical, mental, spiritual & emotional. Loving your posts, KL. Loads of great feedback coming in. Lots of folks have had, or are going thru similar circumstances. And we’re all not so different really. At the heart of ‘life’ we all want to be loved & appreciated for ourselves, not what we have or don’t have and not what we know or don’t know. Simple stuff. And once we let go of ego based thinking and judgement we’re so much freer, accepting and happier….
Yes, me, all of the above. And now, also stubbornly refusing to grieve.
Hunkered down and began novel Revisions before and after work, hours a day, beta reading three other novels–8 months ago. When my big brother, my hero, got sick. And died, on Christmas. And my parents are still here!
Stubbornly not letting go, getting more writing done than ever, but not the memorial tribute everyone seems to expect from me. I can’t let him become a memory.
I don’t know how to stop and feel what needs to be felt. But I need this on a plaque:
“Pain is a signal we need to TEND something. We either need to fix it, face it, flush it or just FEEL it.”
Been there and done that. We have to get off the treadmill and treat ourselves more gently.