because none of us is fucking up like we think we are, is what i'm trying to say

Monday, 8 April 2013

Career Envy, Brain Hamsters and the Power of the Internet

I do this thing when I’m putting off writing. To procrastinate, I deliberately amble down the track of self-loathing known as Google Stalk 101. This involves me eating a block of cheddar as I digitally assess females of roughly my same age and field, who I consider to be doing their career better than me. I do this in such a way to ensure the CIA are probably having animated and handsy meetings with the White House about what they can learn from my technique, wondering if everyone has to wear sweatpants to do it.

After breakfast, I’ll idly sit down to work on an article, or a blog post, or MY UP-COMING EBOOK (!) and will know the second my ass hits the chair whether it’s going to be a god this feels like pushing out a hot turd but heeeeeck in the best possible way BABY! kind of a writing day, or The Other Kind. The kind where down to the core of my bones I know I’m a fraud, and a dreamer, and out of my league in trying to build a portfolio, to earn a living from writing mostly about myself. On those days, nobody cares what I have to say, I’m self-indulgent for trying to build my own business, everyone is laughing at me. I should go back to bed.

Some days I decide that no, I’m not very good at this at all. I berate myself for even bothering to own a computer to write on, let alone for switching it on. Then I pick somebody from my blogroll or bookmarks and say to myself: now *they* are good. They do it right. 

I look at every article in their portfolio, every Tweet in their timeline, and every picture they’ve publicly posted on Facebook, in an obsessive manner not dissimilar to Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction. Then I let the brain hamsters feast on the inevitable tide of failure-flavoured bile I bring up into my conscious because I want what they’ve got. I get a major case of the Career Jealousies.

I know as I’m doing it that I should stop. As I fall down the rabbit hole of link after link a little voice in my head tells me that it doesn’t matter what somebody else has done, what they’ve achieved, how their life is playing out. I know all that matters is I'm doing my best in my own game, that my own destiny is unfolding in the purposeful way that I feel it should.

But the brain hamsters want what they want: to prove that I am worthless.  

I don’t Google Stalk actual proper famous people. There’s no point finding out everything there is to know about Lena Dunham in this mood because she is Hollywood Famous and thus elevated to some other kind of status in my imagination, the kind of status where her success in doing what she loves is something to aspire to, not envy.

Instead, I’ll pick somebody like me but not, somebody who keeps a blog or a website or has more followers or comments or a better profile picture, and I’ll prove to myself that I’m a tiny, talentless fish in a massively competitive pond and that what they do is much better than any of my attempts.

It’s batshit crazy. I know. I’ve read Danielle LaPorte, and understand The Art of Nonconformity. I get that there’s only one of me, only one person who can do things exactly my way. But on the Bad Writing Days this is irrelevant. I deliberately choose to jeopardise myself, to force my self-belief down into the ranks of little-to-none where it’s much safer and comfortable because ambition doesn’t exist there.

This behaviour doesn’t apply to anything else. Having a baby? I’m excited for you. Getting married? Shit, man, congratulations! Buying a house, travelling the world, eating a really great salad? Good for you. But when it comes to me and my writing, well heck. I’m sensitive.

Probably this is because I don’t care about anything in my life right now as much as I do finding a way to tell stories. And when you care, you freak out, right? RIGHT? That’s what I tell myself when I’m self-sabotaging the fuck out of my all. I tell myself I must really care about what I’m doing if I’m so terrified I’ll fail that I can dedicate two hours and forty-five minutes at a time to finding reasons why it’ll never work.

And that’s how I know that ultimately making a living from telling stories is a passion I feel so terrifically strongly about that I can’t not try. So even with the fear, I write. 

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