Last July a tornado hit our neighborhood. One of the casualties? Our swing set. It’s all right. It was rusty and rocked a bit too much when our daughter got to swinging. The kids had outgrown it. So, we got a bigger one. A much bigger one.
The cross bar is 10 feet in the air. Not a joke. Once my husband had it constructed, I thought I should swing for a minute or two.
“I feel small!” I giggled. “My feet don’t touch the ground!”
There’s just something about knowing that something is bigger than you, right?
I felt that way another time last week.
I’m about to be honest here. It’s not the prettiest side of me, but it’s true and I think sometimes we need to share the ugly every once in awhile. Just don’t think less of me, all right?
I don’t win things. Sure, every once in awhile I can trick the carnival dude who’s guessing people’s ages (thanks for the good genes, Mom). Sometimes I even win a blog give-away. But when it comes to competing I usually don’t come close to the prize.
I’m not a competitive person, so it isn’t about winning. It’s about affirmation.
Well, last week I found out that I didn’t final in a book competition for My Mother’s Chamomile. One of my friends did make the short list of finalists and I’m over the moon for him (Congrats, Zach Bartels, Playing Saint deserves to be on the list).
I have to admit, I pouted. I nursed hurt feelings. Now, I didn’t look at the books that did final in my category with bitterness. Not at all. I’m sure those books are stellar.
I just felt left out.
Like when the cool girl in elementary school had a sleep over and an invitation never comes to my house.
You know that feeling. Right? Please tell me you know.
You know how I felt? Small.
You know what song I have loved all my life? Bridge Over Troubled Water. It makes me cry. It reminds me of my childhood, listening to the Simon and Garfunkel Concert in Central Park record. I remember the way my mom sang along. And I remember the very first line resonating with me when I was little.
“When you’re weary, felling small,
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all;
I’m on your side when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.”
That day I was disappointed, so I turned to two of the people who I knew would encourage me. I admitted how I felt and they lifted me up. I acted like a punk and they endured it (thanks, hubby).
At church we’re in a series about the “Power of a Compassionate Community”. Our pastor Jeff Manion asks each week, “Who are you looking out for?”.
Well, I’ll tell you what, I know who’s looking out for me and how good it feels to have people who care.
It makes me feel big enough to lay down my life for someone else. It inspires me to make sure I’m looking out for somebody else.
(Hey! Remember last week? I did a give-away here of Jocelyn Green’s book? Well, Joanne Sher is the winner! Hooray!)
Ooooh! I won! Absolutely CAN’T wait to read it!
And I am ABSOLUTELY the same way about disappointment – and it is FABULOUS to have those go-to people. God is good.
I am so thankful for those people who I can be a bratty kid to and who still love me. They are priceless.
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Congrats Joanne! I’m so happy for you! And thanks Susie for hosting the give-away!
Thanks for being honest, Susie. Glad you are feeling a bit better, thanks to your friends and hubby. 🙂
I once heard the maxim “Writers are competitive.” Well, that’s true to varying degrees. But it’s more true of humans overall. We want to be the adored geniuses, the best in show, the ones who get credit. I don’t think any of us are immune to this inclination.
It is beautiful because it can help urge us forward to do some of our greatest work. But, as you acknowledge, it has a dark side. I certainly have experienced this dark side in my own life, trying to stay neck-in-neck with other writers who are in my same stage of development, and pouting when they edge me out by a nose. Ha ha! Like a kid whose favorite toy was snatched away.
Thanks for sharing your perspective.
(And yesssss, I am so loving Jeff Manion’s current series. It’s exactly what I need right now.)
I think that, if I am competitive, it’s against myself. That can be both good and bad. I’m trying to train it for the good, to spur me on to improve constantly.
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That’s also true of me. And I should clarify: I pout sometimes, not every time; it just depends on where I’m at that particular day. And it’s always mixed with joy for my friends’ accomplishments. (Great! Now I sound like a horrible brat! Yeesh.)
oh Susie, I think this blog is your best of all (practically!). You have affirmed that scared place that I think resides in all of us. Feeling left out. Not wanted. And that I am NOT the only person to have felt that. I am not alone. What a gift!
And IMHO – both your books should have received every award there is to give them. That is the effect that they have had on me.
And I am so glad that there are people in your life and around you that will build you back up on those days that you need them.
Oh, Beth. I’m so glad I’m not alone. There’s a whole pack of us, I suspect. We’ll be friends. How does that sound?
Thank you for the encouragement. It means so very much to me! You are a blessing!
Ah, my friend. I know exactly how you feel. Here’s why I think I attach so much value to awards. Writing is so subjective. We get reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, but most the time, we don’t really know how much weight to assign to those opinions. Winning an award is, like you said, affirmation. It’s affirmation that all the gut-wrenching work and sweat and tears (not to mention a lacing of self-doubt) resulted in a book that has been judged worthwhile. I do not aspire to a status of “bestselling,” but affirmation? Yep, I would like that. Wouldn’t we all? 😉 I’m sad My Mother’s Chamomile wasn’t recognized this time. For what it’s worth, here’s my honest opinion. Your books are important, original, life-giving and soulful. Any one of those qualities is quite an accomplishment. But you have them all!!
Joc, you just gave me a big old dose of affirmation. Thank you! I feel the same about your books. You point readers to God as the one who rescues, not a love interest…and for that I’m grateful. I’m reminded throughout your stories about how God provides, loves, and protects. I need to read that and often.
Thank you for being a good friend. I wish I could give you a big old hug!
Being counted as one who is worthwhile is such a human desire, my friend. And our writing is so close to us because it’s a window into our souls. When those little snippets of our souls aren’t lauded, it’s as if WE aren’t acceptable. As a writer, I’m still working up enough courage to put myself back out there. So here’s some kudos just for your courage to let others into the worlds you’ve created.
And by the way, I love Simon and Garfunkel so much I have a Pandora station named for them. It’s what I clean to 🙂
Okay. I love washing dishes while listening to S and G. They are soulful. I love them.
Janyre, I’m glad you commented today. I read your book last week (That Sinking Feeling) and am so looking forward to reading your work in the future. It’s terrifying, but so worth it!
Hang in there, Susie! MMC is a winner with me! Thanks for sharing and being honest. Loved this post.
Thank you! You are always such an encouragement to me, sweet friend.
I hate how that feeling takes all that maturing and growth and self-actualization you thought you’d been doing and leaves you feeling like a lonely middle schooler. I totally know the feeling and I wish I didn’t. It’s also why I love middle schoolers, because man, that just sucks. Thanks for the words.
Yeah! I felt like such a baby when I was in my little pity party. Ugh. And I hated middle school! So very much.