I’ve been reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (a review will be coming for that!) and today, I read the most profound sentence of the ENTIRE book, I think. Or at least the only one I can remember right now.
“If you’re not enough without the gold medal, you won’t be enough with it.”
John Candy shared that brilliant line with us all in Cool Runnings way back in the early 90s.
Anne Lamott shared it again, but this time in the context of publishing.
“If you’re not enough without being published, you won’t be enough with it.”
This is such a timely reminder for me. I’m in the midst of trying to accrue votes for this writing contest (spoiler – I write blog posts a few weeks ahead so I’m not scrambling at the last second to think of something). So, anyway, I’m trying to get votes so I can stay in the top 10 so that my story has the chance to be judged to win a registration and guaranteed a 1:1 appointment with an acquisitions editor at a semi-local writer’s conference. It has been a LOT of work over the course of a month to slowly slowly eke those votes up and up. The truth is that I have a small facebook friends list, a small Instagram followership, small twittersphere, and a small following on my author page. I’d be SHOCKED if everyone combined together reached 400 people (because obviously, I’ve got cross followers, etc. Heck, I’d be shocked if it was 300!
Anyway, in that very small pool of people, I was trying to get their attention so as to go and vote for my story. However, I didn’t know who HAdN’T voted, so I couldn’t just tag random people (well, I tried that, but I tagged people who already had voted… lame). I obsessed over it. I spent weekends playing the “just x more votes to the next 10!” game. I took advantage of the fact that my wedding anniversary was in there and knew I’d get extra views of those pictures and so added a plea for votes in there. I really worked my tail off.
And in all that time, I was thinking “If I can only just be in that top 10, then everything will work out,” as I fantasized about being one of the 3 pieces selected and then blowing away the editor with my book ideas and on and on it went. Fantasizing is fun for sure, but I was hinging my worth as a writer on this one contest for a while.
Then I read that page in Bird by Bird.
If I’m not enough without winning this contest, I won’t be enough with it.
Sure, for a while, I’ll feel really cool and whatnot, but that will fade. And then what?
Say I get there and they don’t like ANY of my ideas. Then what?
Or what if they DO like them and then I actually get published? Will I then feel totally validated in all this time? Or, as with all things, will that fade too? And then where will I be but back at the start, always chasing the elusive permanent fill-me-up that will eradicate all my inner self-doubts and everything else I struggle with.
What if I tried something else? What if I spent MORE energy being enough without all that? What if I spent all the energy I’ve spent worrying and being anxious and channeled into reassuring me that my worth and value aren’t wrapped up my writing. What if I embraced the idea that my worth is as a human. Because I am human, I have worth. Because I am human, I have value. I need nothing more.
I have family. I have friends. I have a community. I have people who love me whether I get published or not. I have people who see my worth and value outside of a spotlight. I don’t need thousands of other people who follow me in order to be of value. I don’t need to be mega-famous, mega-rich, or mega-in-demand to have value. As a Christian, I believe my value and worth are inherent, they were set in me as I was created. As long as I’m good with God, I don’t need anything else.
And the thing is, we all have this. We have some elusive “it” that we chase, that we think will fill us up, that will take away all the darkness and mold and mildew inside of us.
Friend, there is no magic “it”.
Whatever “it” is for you right now, it will not fill you up. It will not satisfy you. And when you finally get it and realize that, the disappointment will be even larger because “it” was built up so much.
So, instead, how about we do this? How about we focus on being enough without “it”, whatever “it” is. Let’s spend our energy where we have the control and let’s always remember that if we’re not enough without it, we’ll never be enough with it.
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