Freelance by Jen

Consider me the No More Tangles of your writing needs.

I love The Onion. Pre-hardcore internet, I would find printed copies of that thing and save them like they were half dollars from the Tooth Fairy.

And, once hardcore internet hit, I obsessed over the site. Especially the line of merchandise emblazoned with this:

I wish someone would do something about how fat I am.

It’s funny because it’s TRUE! GET IT!?

But it doesn’t have to begin and end with fat. You could totally substitute other words in there and achieve the same point, which is…

We seek from others what we don’t want to try finding within ourselves. 

It’s so easy to do, and I do it every day of my life. In fact, that’s what I like about it…it’s easy.

Earlier this week, I wrote about what self-centered really means to so many of us. Today, I want to add another layer to it.

In our quest to assign importance to external factors, we also make broad assumptions about people that feel automatically true. This tendency may be buried so deeply within us that we don’t recognize it, but believe me, it’s there. So let’s all take a rusty shiv and go on a little ugliness dig together.

Today, I was in a workout dance class, and I was stone-cold sober. Dancing sober is something that’s really painful to me, because then I’m aware of every uncoordinated step I try unsuccessfully to take. And no matter what, it always feels like the whole rest of the class has been practicing as a group on the sly. Plus, these girls look so fit and toned. Plus, they all know each other and talk about things that I have no part in…birthday parties with their probably equally toned and coordinated children, girls’ nights out that probably involved mimosas and low-carb hors d’oeuvres, etc. These women probably never even had a Pinterest fail.

PLUS, I have fallen pretty hard off of the workout bandwagon lately.  I used to be a 5:00 a.m. faithful. It worked well for me. I’d work out hard, and then I’d go home, shower, take a power nap, and go to my job that involved me either being at an office or networking successfully with strangers. I had a work wardrobe rich in slacks and fitted button-downs, and all of the clothes fit. I did my hair.

Present Jen doesn’t have to be in one set location at 8 a.m. daily. She doesn’t have to wear slim-fitting professional-lady outfits. She mostly writes, alone, interspersed with customer home visits. As a result, she talks herself out of 5 a.m. workouts. She’s up a few pounds. And she considers putting on makeup a major achievement.

Wow, I just totally third-personed that paragraph. How about that!? Let’s see if we can keep that shit going.

Present Jen also looks at everyone else and assumes they have their shit together. They seem prettier, more fit, more generally with-it. They have inside jokes with each other that make no sense to her. They talk about mud runs, or shared social functions, or generally doing stuff with purpose, and they have joy in their voices. She takes it all in, and suddenly has the urge to just leave and go eat her kitchen, because she’ll never be that cool. If they would just talk to her, include her, make her be accountable for her actions, she’d be fine. She can’t just include herself, after all.

Stop. Does any of this sound familiar? You know it does. It’s so easy to allow ourselves to feel less-than. It’s so easy to assume that everyone else has it figured out. And then it’s so easy to just give up, because you’ll never be them, and why waste time trying?

If you’ve ever felt left out, if you’ve ever felt betrayed and alone, and if you’ve ever felt like life is an inside joke and you’re on the outside, then you understand what I’m saying.

It’s so hard to make ourselves be fully present and to enjoy what’s happening in THIS MOMENT. Right now, I’m thinking about how I weighed myself after class this morning at my mother-in-law’s house, for the first time in a couple of months, and I’m now at the highest weight that I’ve been at in five years. And that is absolutely destroying me. I’m letting that fill me up like a bad-air balloon and define every part of who I am.

And even though life has taught me that I have to get there myself, and that nobody can truly help me but ME, I’m feeling a little resentful that someone else hasn’t stepped forward with that magic pill, with that perfect little bite-sized life-lesson morsel, and fixed me. Like, what the hell is wrong with you guys? You’ve got it together, surely you have time to help ME get it together.

But here’s the thing. That person isn’t going to materialize until you look in the mirror.

You’re not going to be able to become a better person by someone else walking up to you and telling you to be. All of the accountability groups in the world aren’t going to make you take the steps to emotional well-being. You have to find your own path.

And that’s what we’re ALL doing…finding our own paths. That chiseled-ab girl with the great hair, rocking the red lipstick and knowing all the dance moves, does not sit back and high-five herself every day for winning life. The group of football dads at Little League practice re-living their own past sporting glory days are not going home and thinking man, I really am the best.

No. We’re all just trying to do the best we can. We’re all made up of equal parts narcissism and self-deprecation. We all have bad days and better days. And every fucking one of us has a struggle to match every triumph.

Everyone has a story. And nobody has achieved black-belt life status, no matter how well they pull the wool over your wounded eyes.

So please know this. You’re amazing, and you’re worth every bit as much as anyone you see. Just take a deep breath of worth, and exhale all of the stale old bullshit.

And, even though you may not know the routine, always, always keep dancing.

 

 

 

 

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