Envy and Honesty

 

Envy is never pretty. Not really all that helpful, either. (Except if it motivates you to go to the gym or something.) But I digress. I’ve been envious lately. Of the “good” writers, the funny tweeps, the people who have it all together. Because their blog and social media shows this, it must be true.

Then I received a DM.

An online friend was struggling.

I got an email. Then another. And another. They were all struggling. And I had no idea. I wrote back, sending supportive words and virtual hugs. But I felt helpless.

I also felt guilty. Here’s why.

Two of the people who contacted me were, less than a week before that, on my list. (My completely, utterly unfair list.) It was a long list, I must admit, because I am not doing well. I’m overwhelmed. I can’t keep up. And more is headed my way every day.

Although I should know better, I envied these people who had it all together. Who were juggling families, jobs, friends, writing, blogging, social media… Life. They were managing life. Without breaking a virtual sweat.

Ah. But there it is, right? Virtual. It’s difficult enough to recognize in real life people who are struggling. When you can hide behind a screen and type when you feel chipper or comment when you’re capable, no one can tell that you’re struggling.

Imagine my shock when one of these emails expressed a good-natured jab about how well I was doing because I was seemingly all around the blogosphere. Here I was drowning and someone thought I was winning the swim meet. Everyone is dealing with something—they may be fine, they may not be.

I know this. People post when they’re feeling okay. I should never have assumed. Needless to say, and yet I will, I should never have been envious of their ability to handle the world in the first place, virtual or not.

 

Sarah B rainy day - sig

 

Because September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day, I thought it fitting to share this today. I’m checking my envy at the door. Giving what I can, when I can. Being there.

And asking “How are you?”

 

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23 thoughts on “Envy and Honesty

  1. You speak so much truth here. Bravo!

    It’s hard enough to tell when someone is doing well if they are someone you see every day and they put the brave face on. We may not realize it but it’s even more difficult to tell when you only “see” that person on twitter or a blog.

    Btw, this line is brilliant:
    Here I was drowning and someone thought I was winning the swim meet.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. No one can sweat virtually, but behind the scenes we’re all a damp mess! It might be sad/crazy/funny to do a reality tv series on writers and compare all that lovely output to the weeping and gnashing on the other side of the page or screen. I can feel “behind” so often when I look at what tweeps are doing. I panic when new books come out and I feel like the late bloomer without even a hint of a bud. Then I pause, (go outside & look up) and remember that literature is not a race. Writing is what I do, not what I am. I wish it weren’t a struggle, but somehow the struggle leads to breakthroughs. Sometimes we post when we are okay, and other times we post when we are desperate to feel okay. It’s so hard to read between the tweets and posts, but most likely we all know these struggles and think others are doing better. Big virtual hugs to you (and those are real)!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I’m just saying ‘ditto’ to Charli who articulates what I think so much better. If you could bottle the goodwill and natural essence of envy I feel when I read your crisp prose and witty one liners and you dabbed it on your wrists every morning you’d definitely feel a tad better. So we all look on and see what mask we are offered and it’s a construct on wet sand. The best we can do is cheer our fellows on when they charge ahead and hold the carriage door open as they sprint for the train. The thing I think about this blogging life is so much is virtual but the goodwill and, yep, the love is pretty damn genuine.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Sigh. I know this. I have a list. I spend hours a day wishing I could do more – be more productive – blog less – write more – keep up with comments – be better at this or that and definitely the other. It’s like a constant cycle of beating oneself up. Especially because and here’s the kicker – I constantly feel like a crap mum and wife because of the continual urge to write. It’s like the minute I open my laptop I’m feeling bad – like I’ve let them down. If I stop – I feel envious of those that managed to get a post out… Or finish that competition entry.

    I think we all feel it. Some of that feeling is good – it’s competitive and motivational – but feel too much and you end up a soggy mess of self depreciation. And the most ridiculous thing is no one thinks anyone is bad or not keeping up – we all think each other is excellent and productive and talented so we’re just doing this to ourselves – it’s self imposed standards and expectations. I think we need to be nicer to ourselves.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Sasha, I can so relate to the choice of writing or spending time with the family and real life friends. It is a serious stretch for me too. I am currently doing a bit of writing on the blog whole my kids are home on school holidays and instead of running around town, we’re having a quiet day. I am intending to take them to a movie but right now any effort feels too much. I think we’re all enjoying vegging out. xx Rowena

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  5. Lovely post and comments, Sarah. It’s so true that we can often more easily see what another person’s doing well than where they’re struggling. I think I said on one of my guest posts that the only times I remember being complimented for my cheerfulness (in the physical world) was at a point when I was extremely low. So a timely reminder for world suicide day.
    Yet I don’t think we should beat ourselves up about envy, as it’s hard not to compare ourselves with others and, when we do, we see only part of the story. I’ve had a draft post about this for ages and you might just have given me the confidence to post it – so thanks for that.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve been envious as well, Sarah. I want to write constantly but the world refuses to grant me that wish. I get jealous of the people I follow who seem to post two or three times a day.
    But, as you so eloquently put it, we post when we feel “good”.

    I’ve seen the quote and I agree with it, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” I believe that’s true. And you know, because you know me, that I want to help anyone I can fight those battles..I don’t even care what they are about!!!

    So stay support and wonderful, My Friend. You’re doing just fine. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yup! I can totally relate. These days it’s when I read an amazingly-written blog post and wish I could’ve written it. I’ve been so busy and I feel like I’m not able to focus as much as I used to on my actual blog posts. Hopefully I used it in a positive way and am now motivated to improve.

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  8. Oh Sarah, yes, I so know how this feels. And I wish we lived near each other (I always think that you must live near the shore) because I’d love to give you a hug and let you download your mental list and take notes for you, to give back to you, and then take deep breaths together before we both plunged back into the craziness of life and obligations and holding together the micro-tears. (That’s my process, to write down everything and let the paper be my memory.) Even when we know someone is struggling it’s still hard to know what to say. I find I am hopelessly insecure about saying the things to someone else that I wish were said to me. I saw two folks in my facebook feed today and sent them messages – and I don’t know if they were the right words or not. I don’t even know if these are the right words here. In any case, you’re in my thoughts. Sending love and light.

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  9. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and enquiring how I am. I could identify with so much of what you said – it’s so hard to keep up, and keep up appearances. I always admire the way you personalise tweets, and think, I should be like Sarah and take the time to do that. But if I did I’d read less and tweet less, and write less. Breathe! The comments you have received above are so supportive and encouraging and accepting. We accept each other. We just have to learn to accept ourselves. Your post was very timely, and here I am – days late, but here, and checking in to see what my good friend Sarah has been up to! 🙂 Hang in there. You do a marvelous job!

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  10. As others have echoed in the comments to your post, I can so relate to what you’ve written about here. While social media is wonderful in many ways – it helps us to stay connected with distant friends, allows us to meet other writers who inspire us to forge ahead – it tends to be one-dimensional in a way that makes it easy to forget that we ALL struggle. I recently mentioned to a friend that I’d like to do a FB experiment where all of my posts show more of the downs along with the ups. She responded, “Yes, but who wants to read about the downs? I know I wouldn’t!” Sigh. Thanks for sharing this, Sarah.

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  11. Think you’ve struck a chord here, Sarah. It’s very easy to get caught up in the surface stuff people let us see and assume everything is much better for them. We all go through crappy times, and it’s good to remind ourselves that others do too. We are not alone, and it’s good to recognise it once in a while. Great post – and put much more succinctly than I could have done.

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  12. Loved this post – it’s so easy to forget that everyone is struggling… In the on,one world, people see what we want them to see, and the more I get to know bloggers in the community, the more I realise that we all have our struggles…

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  13. I feel ya! I don’t know if I’ve been exactly envious of those who manage to handle it all, but I do respect and applaud them. They present such an impressive exterior that I just have to admire them for a time. You’re one of them. 🙂

    But like you said, everyone has their troubles. I know I have mine. Life happens. It’s the strong ones that continue on anyways.

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  14. Thanks for saying this because I have a feeling most of us suffer from this. We’re all going crazy, but to others it looks pretty good on screen. I like Charli’s idea of a reality tv show, although maybe it’d get boring after some time and viewers would want to gauge their eyes out. If we take a step back, this whole writing thing is pretty ridiculous.

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  15. Sarah, I loved your post and the contrast between what appears on the screen and how bloggers might really be feeling is something I’m quite conscious of. I blog as a parent living with a severe life-threatening illness and I try to be careful that I don’t just post the good stuff so other people living with similar medical conditions, don’t see me as some incredible Wonder Woman when I’m not. At the same time, it’s been challenging to know quite what to post when my life has been hanging in the balance a few times and I haven’t wanted to worry people. I am also extremely conscious of the power of a photograph and how they really do lie. When you post what might be a transitory moment on your blog, it gains a sense of permanency. I posted a photo of my husband fishing but he hates fishing and was only doing it at a Father’s Day thing for Scouts and he really didn’t want to catch a fish.
    I connect with a number of bloggers who I know are going through very difficult times and we openly talk about this in the comments. I try to visit these people regularly but unless they contact me as well, they can fall off the radar. However, I can only do my best and I have to make sure my own family is okay too and that’s a full time job in itself. xx Rowena

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  16. Pingback: Amuse-Bouche #3: Autumn Gratitude Edit | Petal & Mortar

  17. Dear Sarah, I came over here from your link. You know, I have to smile. Wryly. The date of this post? It’s my birthday. I was in France with my kids and hubby walking around a beautiful village in th sunshine the day you posted this. I felt good. Today I hate my memoir, my writing, myself. Strong I know. And what good is that to share here? Well…I have no advice. I’ve blogged only what, 7 times since mid December? The least possible. So many others are flying high it seems, publishing, getting out there, linking, everything. And still…damn it…I’m trying to write those early effing chapters of my memoir and I’ve convinced myself in the last 24 hours that I can’t do it, that it’s crap, nobody will read it, it’s irrelevant, it’s worthless, someone else will get in there before me. My dream, over 35 years…and the emails come in constantly for blogging and I Cant.Keep.Up. I’m just so glad I get to read your posts Sarah, you keep me sane because of them and I want to cry and hug you for it. Now I’m going to read Just Say No… ❤

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  18. This is such an inspiring post, Sarah, one I wish I’d read a while back. I don’t beat myself up so much about blogging, but I’ve got an internal voice that constantly worries about word counts. (Get in 1.500 words today, at least 1,000). When I’m writing, I should be hanging out with my kid, when I’m hanging out with my kid I should be writing, and so on…

    Then I kept getting rejected. Over and over again, so i that didn’t help. Finally I just decided to write for me. And that’s the best I can do.

    Excellent post, one i’ll turn to again when I need it.

    Thanks!

    Like

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