I showed up to my writer’s group tonight and couldn’t wait to share how productive I was last week – an outline! Research! Narrative! Character design! I AM PRODUCTIVE!
And then I looked on Facebook – which I probably shouldn’t do, ever.
They’re getting published. They’re getting published (again). They finished their manuscript. Their screenplay won an award (I didn’t even know they wrote?). It was hard to look down at my notes in my $1 exercise book and feel as proud or as excited when I see people reaching my goal posts, the same goal posts that lie far away. Way beyond scribbles and notes and posts in a blog that, for all intents and purposes, doesn’t exist. Obviously, it doesn’t take much for me to kick myself down a few (million) pegs. I felt like a Twinkie on a paper towel sitting next to an ornately decorated, tiered cake on a fancy tray.
So yeah. That was fun.
When I was in my 20’s, other people’s success where I was failing made me bitter. And coming up with social media meant I was hit with other people’s success All. The. Time. And I was bitter. So bitter. Like bit-errrr. All. The. Time. The bitterness put up a wall between me and anyone who could have possibly been helpful or inspiring. Every person I knew who reached any level of publishing or got an amazing job or scored some outrageous networking just alienated me more and more. If something good happened to someone else, it was an automatic strike against me. It made me hate myself, and my abilities. It depressed me, which made me work even less. I wasn’t even a Twinkie. I was a $1 gas station Golden Twin.
I didn’t realise it then, but the bitterness came from knowing they achieved their successes and their triumphs because they worked at it. And they worked at it hard. The bitterness came from knowing I wasn’t working at it, at all. And I certainly wasn’t working at it hard. Therefore, I wasn’t getting the success – and it wasn’t anyone’s fault buy my own. I was bitter because I wanted it, but I allowed myself to wallow instead of work through it.
Thanks to that realisation (hooray therapy, and hooray growing up). Now, I’m genuinely happy for their success. I think of how exciting it would be to be in their shoes, and how amazing it has to feel. Feeling shitty and bitter doesn’t get me anywhere (I mean, maybe some sweet anecdotes but that’s about it). Other people’s success isn’t a deliberate sabotage against me, no matter how much my depressive brain makes me want to think so. It’s no one’s fault but my own if I don’t succeed. If I don’t do the work, nothing’s going to happen. And sometimes the work starts with baby steps – an outline. A character design. Free writes that turn into something positive, something inspiring. Showing up to writer’s group 3 weeks in a row. Convincing myself to take a shower.
It’ll happen, one way or another. But I have to work at it. I have to work through the struggle, and not give in to it. Success won’t come to me by me sitting around in my sweatpants, agonising about my life and not writing (sheeew, that’d be amazing, but it’s not likely). I have to embrace the small victories, or they won’t lead to the big victories.
Also, there’s nothing wrong with Twinkies.
Have you ever had a Twinkie?
They’re fucking delicious.