Why Not Me

I’m not quite sure if it came from a sense of my own self-entitlement (most definitely) or a disillusionment cum desperation with my own situation (also very much that) but jealousy for me always manifested in the same way. Less righteous fury and more screaming toddler. It would the same three words etched on the inside of my skull, burned on to the back of my eyelids and caught in the back of my throat. WHY NOT ME?

For better or worse though, it never had to do with me or my lacking, and more to do with everyone else’s opportunity or luck. I wasn’t the one who had to change, it was the world. I simultaneously had this gross sense of my own self-worth married with this all-consuming fear of failure (and of course being proved I was nowhere near as good as I thought I was.) Think of it like an internalised impostor syndrome to the point that I wouldn’t even allow myself to be found out, but at the same time would resent anyone who put themselves out there. Why not me indeed?

So here I was, this paradox with this inflated sense of their own ability coupled with this weird angry gnaw telling me that the thing I thought I was good at (and applied my worth to) I wasn’t actually that good at. Any praise came out of luck, love or at the very worst, pity. It was easier to not try and not put myself out there rather than do the thing and fail. A really super mature approach.

Maybe resenting other people’s opportunities while not seeking my own wasn’t the healthiest way to deal with things. And maybe putting my entire sense of self in some abstract thing that I could offer the world wasn’t really doing much for me either.

Letting go of expectations doesn’t really happen overnight, but watching other people work and do well is definitely a good way to readjust your world view. I mean, it’s fine sitting there watching someone’s highlight reel online all the while not noticing – the anxiety shits, the nights cancelled to meet a deadline, the chasing of month-long invoices. The most accomplished people I knew made it all look seamless, but their honesty and candour of everything it took to get to the point made me feel like less like an abject failure. Sure, being freelance had this whole romantic allure for me, came with this cultural cache and freedom, SO MUCH FREEDOM – but also I don’t miss arguing over a 60 day payment period and adjusting my cash flow to make sure I got the gig. If I wanted to get back in to it, I didn’t have to salt the earth and only do the thing, but I would need to show the fuck up rather than moaning about why the thing wasn’t happening for me.

Last year a woman I’d known for years messaged me to say I helped them get confidence in writing again. It felt bizarre as she was brilliant and accomplished and doing all this wonderful work, while I had written 3 times in a 6 month period. I felt awkward but the warm fuzzies managed to push past the worst of it. Recently she got an incredible commission with a publication I’d love to work with, and instead of the old achy jealous,y I felt proud. There are thousands of talented writers out there, hundreds of thousands – but someone doing well doesn’t take away from my ability or skill set. If anything, it’s helped me build an amazing support network. I slide in to her DM’s asking how to get back on the horse and came away from it with some practical advice, a reality check, some truly lovely compliments and an email for a commissioning editor. Jealousy never served me, drove me forward or helped me accomplish my goals. If anything it stopped me from being vulnerable, reaching out and building support networks of people who can understand, advise and give more than a gentle nudge.

For the first time in a long time, I feel ready to put myself out there. To write 10 terrible bad ideas and get to write 1. I want to say yes to more things (it’s how I ended up writing a chapter for my friend’s book which still feels completely surreal) and make more time so that why not me becomes less the scream of a petulant child and more of a motivating mantra? It’s rediscovering confidence, recognising other peoples triumphs don’t take away from my own, and it’s so much more satisfying being their cheerleader, knowing in turn they are mine. Why not me indeed.


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