So, we all have That Friend.
Really, I think it should say That "Friend."
That person who for some reason always seems to be in competition with you, and that competition is completely one sided. That "Friend" who seems to take almost every opportunity to "jokingly" take you down a peg when something good happens to you.
For me That "Friend" is someone I'll call Margot.
Margot is struggling. Margot is someone I've known for a long time, someone I used to work for, and someone who at times I genuinely worry about. My close friends say that I keep Margot in my life because I am a bleeding heart -- I say it is because I am a sucker.
Anyway, I've trained myself to know better than to take Margot's jabs to heart. If writing for the Internet has taught me anything, it's that people are going to be mean or tacky no matter what you do, and if you're dealing with someone who is just out to be a jerk, then best to let them wallow in their own jerkiness.
However, sometimes it's hard not to let the haters seep under your skin. Especially when that hater is someone you know personally.
So a little while ago, I was chatting with Margot about her. Her life, her job, her dog, her depression. I know a lot about Margot's life, while most of you regular xoJane readers know more about my goings on than Margot does.
At this point you may ask why I even bother to keep this person in my life -- it's not exactly healthy. The answer is that I don't know. Part of me would feel really guilty in excising this person because she really is a sad soul, and because of her penchant for one-sided friendships she has very few left in her life. I know, I know, it's not my job to keep her afloat, but I keep holding out hope that she'll come out of it and be the person I liked so many years ago.
Like I said, I'm a sucker.
Margot and I were talking about work, where we hoped to be in the next year.
I mentioned that I hoped to be writing more and hopefully find a way to publish the book I keep stabbing away at.
"You'll be fine, Louise, you're always fine. You'll keep writing your trashy little articles, and find someone to pay for them -- and good for you -- but I want something more. I want to do something that matters."
I know better than to let one of Margot's little jabs hurt me, I've ignored or deflected hundreds of them, but this touched on an insecurity I've struggled with for as long as I've been writing.
As a person who generally writes about my own life experiences -- the weird things that happen to me, realizations I've come to, stuff I like (hi there, Creepy Corner!), and occasionally things that enrage me -- I'm always questioning if what I choose to write about actually MATTERS.
For someone who is relatively "green" at this whole writing thing, compared to many of my peers who have been doing this professionally for years and years, I am constantly evaluating if my opinions, ideas, interests, even the WAY I write my words, resonate with you, my audience. Indeed, though the exact word "trash" hadn't entered my mind in regard to my writing, the thought of it, really the fear of it, had.
But to have someone who knows me, supposedly cares about me, say the word "trashy" in reference to what I put out there, shook me more than I care to admit.
In the days following my conversation with Margot, I found myself a little paralyzed when I tried to write. I second guessed every topic, every sentence. I gave my writing partner bland, tentative notes on the screenplay we were working on. I completely avoided filing anything for xoJane or anywhere else that week. All for fear that I was only capable of spewing out "trash."
I know, I'm not the first person who comes to mind when it comes to hard hitting news, or razor sharp commentary on issues. I believe I'm capable of writing about issues, but it is not what I'm best at (though I'm trying to get better!). My "reporting" comes from me.
What most appeals to me is that moment when, as either a writer or reader, you realize that you are not so alone. Whether it be skin picking, talking to your cat like she's your baby, being a medical mystery, or feeling lost in your career, I think it's a wonderful moment when you realize, "I'm not the only one!" and a dialogue can begin, support can be offered, a feeling of community awakens.
Does it all have to be earth-shattering? Does it all have to be gut-wrenching?
If what I write, or really any writer writes, offers you a moment of kinship, joy, or even just a reprieve from the bombardment of everyday life, I'll gladly take it. Those are the reasons I turned to websites like xoJane in the first place.
After I spoke to Margot, I talked to my friend Joy about what Margot said. Joy has spent much of her adult life being a size activist, being told by both "friends" and strangers how she "is" and what is wrong with how she "is." As always, Joy had a few things to say:
"I AM SO SICK OF PEOPLE TELLING YOU HOW YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE! You are writing and creating everyday, and who cares if what you say matters to five people or 5,000 people? No one person gets to decide if you -- your thoughts, your experiences -- are trash!"
Again, someone else's words got under my skin, but this time those words gave me the kick in the pants to get over myself.
So here I am again, writing about my experiences, writing about my "feelings," reporting on what has happened to me. You know how the saying goes, about "one person's trash."
I don't expect every post to be gold. I mean come on, I tasted cat food and wrote about it.
But, as always, my hope is that my writing gives you something. Makes you think, makes you happy, gives you a "me too!" moment. Even gives you an opportunity to disagree with me. In writing, I'm essentially offering a little bit of myself up for debate.
So to Margot, I say thank you. With your remarks, you gave me one more life experience, with which to write one more "trashy little article."