I have had a million ideas running through my head since March and haven’t taken a moment to write any of them down. I have this tendency to think of an idea – believe it’s something someone else will want to read about – draft it in my head while I’m walking around doing mundane tasks – and then scrap it. I feel that when you do something that others recognize as a talent – whether you’re a good writer or cook, or an unforgettable teacher – there will come an inevitable moment where you have such a hard time believing the praise and you start to question your gift more than before you were ever recognized for it. It’s like when you get a promotion at work. At first, you’re so excited and you know how much you deserve it. But after you go home from that celebratory happy hour, you might lay in bed and think… “Oh, crap. Now I actually have to show that I am worthy of this. I have to live up to that potential that others feel I have and I’ve been commended for and I can’t let anyone down.”
This doesn’t mean I sit here and think that people care enough about my writing that they’re judging it. This is all perception. And the more people I open up to about perception, the more I learn that most of us fall victim to worrying about other people’s perceptions of us. I try to remember a quote I’ve read, allegedly contributed to Eleanor Roosevelt: “You wouldn’t worry so much about what people really thought of you if you knew just how seldom they do.” Nothing about this idea is self-deprecating or full of self-pity or self-loathing. It’s the exact opposite. It’s the most liberating thought in this world.
But I digress. I was talking about those working titles and why I left them behind…
“What Do We Owe Our Children?”
This came to me after taking my child on vacation and realizing that at 5 years-old, he’s had more experiences than my 92 year-old grandmother and sometimes acts entitled and I’m not sure if all these things I give him are the best way to raise him. I felt preachy and like it would come off to others like I knew exactly what I was doing. Pretty much clueless about being a parent since January 12, 2013.
“How I Defeated My Laziness.”
I have confronted most laziness in my life by using a timer. Anything that I avoid doing (vacuuming, dishes, unloading the dishwasher, etc.), I started timing so I could get a better idea and appreciation for how much time it actually took me to do something. It was usually mere minutes, which proved to me that I spent more time thinking about how long it took me to do something than it did to actually DO it. I wasn’t sure this concept would actually help someone, so I shelved it.
“The Living Eulogy.”
After Kate Spade’s suicide, I read article after article about how lovely and wonderful she was. How her impact on the fashion industry changed the way women chose their handbags and how her name is synonymous with style. I also read articles about how lost she felt after she sold her company because she sold her name with it and was never able to develop anything under Kate Spade ever again. I read the articles with a sad heart and wondered if she was told and actually knew the weight of that impact she was described as having. Not only that, was she appreciated for her apparent generosity and talent? After reading so many good things about this woman after she died, it made me want to write living eulogies for all the people I love because I want no one to question how much I care about them. I couldn’t write it eloquently and I was so concerned about offending anyone with mental illness by suggesting that depression can be healed by kindness, that I couldn’t finish what I started.
I have a friend whose health is in so much jeopardy that I feel he walks this earth as a ticking time bomb. I’m not the only one in his inner circle who feels this way, but our concerns go on deaf ears, if and when we choose to voice them. Writing an article about it felt like the passive aggressive way to confront a subject that at this point in a 15-year friendship, I should have the balls to do in person. I probably just failed at that whole not being passive aggressive thing, didn’t I.
“I Want to Retire In a Home With My Friends.”
I wanted to write about a concept of not ending up in assisted living or long-term care. I want my friends and I to buy a big house and have a doctor on call and a chef and a manicurist and a yoga instructor and I want to wear Lilly Pulitzer and maybe smoke a Virginia Slim every once in awhile. Doesn’t that sound like the best way to end your days? No? I know… that’s why I didn’t write about it.
“Staying in my Catholic Faith Even After Seeing Investigation After Investigation About How the Church’s Most Powerful People Took Advantage of Small, Vulnerable Children.”
I hope I can pick up the pen (or tap the keys) enough in the not so distant future to complete a thought. I hope I can let the insecure thoughts simmer and evaporate and just let myself write. I think about Erma Bombeck and Dave Berry and even Dear Abby and how they just wrote about whatever they wanted to, or wrote in whatever way suited them best. Especially Dear Abby. Someone asks her a question and she does not hold back and does not care if you like what she has to say. That woman will tell you if your mother-in-law is trying to steal your children or your best friend is trying to steal your husband. I think about Dr. Phil and Steve Harvey and their bluntness and lack of apology for who they are and what they have to say. I am not comparing myself to these people. But I am hoping to stoke a little of their spunk.
I want to just write. And be okay with me even if others don’t agree. To harvest this love I have for scripting my thoughts and believing that even if one person gets something from it – and even if that person is only ME – it is worthwhile.
I hope that whatever talent you have… whatever makes your heart happy and regardless of whether or not others see it or recognize it… that you don’t put it on a shelf. That you don’t hit delete and that you believe in yourself enough to hit “post” or that you take the stage at karaoke and rock your best ever rendition of “Copacabana.” That you paint that sunset you see outside your window or maybe you start a business helping people with their bookkeeping because you rock at helping people.
Let’s be free together and publish our working titles, in whatever form they are written.