The Lesson I Learned at My Self-Pity Party
The Folly of Chasing Success (and How To Stop)
Last week I wrote a blog post reflecting on what came up for me during the #MeToo phenomenon. In short, I challenged men to make sure they were giving the women in their life extra space during this season where so many women were sharing their stories of sexual harassment and assault. Recalling the details of such stories, and reading other women who have had similar experiences, makes for a very raw and vulnerable space. So I thought it important to talk to the men about intimacy and sex and all that.
I thought the post was awesome. I was super proud of it.
And I was certain it would strike a chord with a whole lot of people, and I was convinced it would really get passed around.
But last week came and went, and my post just sat there, idle, barely read... and shared even less.
Now look, I’d love to tell you that I was unaffected. I’d love to be able to say, “pff, whatevs, no biggie.” I write lots of stuff, and the majority of it goes unread, and most of the time that’s totally cool with me. It’s not why I write--to gain a large platform, or have a massive following.
And yet with this one post I had convinced myself that the readers would flock like gulls to a cheetos bag. I even prepared my website to handle increased traffic! *face palm emoji*
It’s embarrassing for me to tell you all this, because I feel foolish about it.
But I'm comforted by the assumption that at least some of you might be able to relate.
You throw a party, pour your heart in to it, and only your co-worker who lives next door shows up.
You put on a event, dumping time and money into ensuring it’ll have maximum impact, and you end up losing a ton of money because no one came.
For me, I put 900 words I was super proud of out into the world, thinking I’d inspire the masses, and watched as my post got 4 likes and 2 shares.
And in my best moments, I know to not attach too much of my emotional chips to outcomes. Outcomes are wildly unpredictable. In my best moments I know to enjoy the process, the creating, the making of the thing. Because that’s why I do it... and then, if it has a favorable outcome, lovely! How nice!
Last week, I forgot all that.
And so for two days I was in a funk. Despairing (whining?) about why was no one reading and sharing my stuff???
Blech... I know... I’m annoyed at me.
But it’s human, people! It’s totally human, and I’m really working on being okay with being human. Not easy for me.
We make stuff, we are proud of it, we want to share it with the world, and the world just passes by like trick-or-treaters when your porch light is out.
Can I tell you, though, what got me out of the funk?
Shifting my energy from, “what can I get,” to, “what can I give.”
I realized that the antidote to chasing success is generosity. Instead of the posture of, “how can I get more people to notice me?!” I became intentional about, “what can I give away and how can I help other people be seen?”
Remembering a post I read the other day from a friend of mine (a post far better than the one I wrote), I pulled up his website and shared the article, pointing people to his blog instead of mine.
And holy biscuits, the release was immediate. The weight of disappointment and the heaviness of feeling bummed simply faded away.
So yeah, it’s embarrassing for me to tell you how a lack of attention got me so bummed. I sure wish I was more evolved than that... ha! But now it’s empowering for me to share with you how I found a path out of my own selfish ego.
And that path is paved with generosity.
If you’ve found yourself lately thinking way too much about yourself, and feeling sorry for yourself that you aren’t more this or more that, then my suggestion to you is to find a way to give yourself away. Pour out to others what you wish others poured out on you. Not in a way that hopes for some sort of repayment. No, give it away freely.
Then sit back and observe how your self-pity party will transform from just one guest, to zero.
And this time, you ain’t even mad about it.