You know the ones. They all star this legless bald chick with an IQ of 70 and anorexia whose stepdad beats her but she ends up going to Harvard and winning Miss USA and running a marathon and then goes on to inspire other bald legless anorexics to achieve their dreams.
Does the Lifetime movie channel play in other countries besides America? Cause it’s so fucking “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps” American I could puke…and then make a hot chocolate and grab a box of kleenex and cry, “She’s. So-ooo. Ah…ma..ma..zing!” and then watch it again. Damn you, Lifetime movies!
I swear to God, this is the reason why we are all so crazy: the expectations. They are terrible. TERRIBLE!
This is coming from someone who is practically a walking talking lifetime movie.
DGGYST: A Masterpiece!
I have success and love and peace and spend my weekends doing things like “apple picks” and “cider making” and get 90 minute massages and host brunches and shit.
But I grew up in the foster care system. I was beaten and starved and molested, and then was homeless and have almost died of things like “exposure” and “starvation” wayyyy too many times. My contemporaries are strippers or meth addicts. Or dead.
The promo of my Lifetime movie would be: Odds against her, a young woman overcomes untold hardships, just in time for Christmas! Starring Rue McClanahan, Claire Danes, and for some reason, Matthew Broderick. Inspiring!
But here’s the honest truth: by not trying to be inspiring and overcome shit, I’ve become inspiring and overcome shit.
DIFFICULT ROADS OFTEN LEAD TO BEAUTIFUL DESTINAT…Gag..Ha…Gaaa. Sorry, threw up there a little bit.
There is a billboard campaign running in my town right now. It features a picture of a pretty young woman in her cap and gown and the sign reads: “Homeless to Harvard #BeInspirational.”
How nice, right? One day, you are homeless. The next day you graduate from Harvard! I mean, if she can do it, maybe I can do it, and maybe everyone can do it! After all, what’s my excuse? What’s your excuse? The guy on the corner with a meth addiction who was beaten with a shovel since he was a toddler, what’s his excuse? He can go to Harvard, he just needs to work harder! We all just need to do more. Be inspiring!
I shake my head at this fucking sign every day. Showcasing the impossible achievements of others in two-step processes and then putting an Instagram filter on it is a huge problem. It allows us to be cruel to others and cruel to ourselves. It’s an anxiety inducing, bullshit lie.
Thank you, counselor lady at Lincoln High whose name I don’t remember
When I was a senior, I decided to drop out of high school. I was emancipated, I worked 30 hours a week, got straight A’s and was sleeping in a 24 hour laundromat. I was getting by on the “Go Pills” I had discovered in a friend’s medicine cabinet but they weren’t working anymore.I was exhausted and sleeping with one eye open so that “creepy guy with no laundry and his hands in his trench coat” didn’t get any ideas; was no longer an option. I had to move to full time work and the second semester of my senior year was keeping me from a safe place to sleep.
“Hi! I need to drop out. Are there forms I need to sign?” I said as I flopped down in a chair in front of the school counselor.
“Name?” she asked.
I told her and she pulled out my file.
“Tell me why you want to drop out,” she said, exasperated. The window AC in her office was adorned with those sad little streamers that tell you that it is, in fact, running.
“I am emancipated. I have a job, I need to work more hours, and I can’t do this anymore, alright?”
She looked through my file for what seemed like forever.
“Honey, you are so dumb I can hardly look at you.”
I stood up.
“Sit your ass down. LISTEN,” she said. “You are taking AP psychology.” She pulled a pen out of her desk and violently drew a line through it. “Public Speaking; don’t need that,” she said with another violent swish of her pen, “Or that,” swish, “Or [chuckles] that,” swish.
She pulled out another file and a calculator. “You have missed 5 days of school. For god’s sake, no one ever taught you about hooky?” she murmured. “You can miss 33 more days before you have to file an appeal. That should get you about 15 days more,” she said, mostly to herself while pounding on the calculator.
“Alright.” She looked up at me from over the top of her glasses. “Can you show up to history and biology 22 more times in the next four months?”
“Ok, then. D’s get degrees,” she said and crammed my new schedule into my hand.
Thank you. You were the first person who didn’t try to turn me into a character from a Lifetime movie. You were the first person who didn’t tell me to “try harder,” to “succeed no matter what!” You were a straightforward hard-ass and you didn’t put your unrealistic expectations on me. Thank you for not trying to be inspiring. Because of you I graduated high school.
A new kind of overachiever
You probably don’t identify as an overachiever because you confuse it with being a “High Achiever.”
Unlike a “High Achiever,” Being an overachiever is not really about what you have or have not achieved. It’s about being crushed by expectation. You don’t think of things in simple stages, but as entire processes. Getting out of bed for an overachiever might mean, “Then the day has to start and I have to ‘go’ and ‘be’ and ‘do.’ That overwhelms me.”
Overachievers can struggle with basic tasks because the non-inspiring small details that actually get shit done in and of themselves can seem like “not enough.” This type of person might not do anything in a day, because they can’t do everything.
It’s always onto the next step with this kind of person. The overwhelming expectations that they tie in with things like taking a shower, doing the dishes, or applying mascara can paralyze them.
So what can you do about it?
First, realize that life is boring and that is wonderful.
There’s a reason they have to put music in montage scenes of inspiring movies. Without it, it would be guy working out, guy eating eggs, guy working out, guy eating eggs…boring. Put “Eye of the Tiger” to it, and it’s “Rocky”!
Second, realize that doing one thing in no way obligates you to do the next thing. I started wearing makeup everyday. I suffer from anxiety and depression and putting on my makeup makes me feel more sociable. Mastering the thought process of, “Just because I put on makeup, doesn’t obligate me to go out,” helps me put on the makeup, and that helps me to go out.
Sometimes I say, “I am too tired to make dinner.” I know I can chop vegetables, I’m just overwhelmed with the dinner making. So I say, “You aren’t making dinner; just chop the vegetables.” And I do, and sometimes that’s it. Vegetables chopped! Success! Now let’s get takeout! But most of the time, chopping the vegetables leads me to boiling the broth which leads me to say, “Well I might as well add that chicken,” and bam, you got a stew goin!
Oh, how our Pinterest boards runneth over. But they are making us sick.
I get it: inspiring stories are pretty. They sell. They make the little hairs on our arms stand up. “Girl gets up, does the dishes” isn’t exactly going to be a box office hit. But that’s the truth. That’s the fucking secret. You do the dishes, one plate at a time and that as an achievement is enough. . Nothing about the process of becoming inspirational is even remotely interesting. It’s boring, Thank God!
TWIST ENDING: “Creepy guy with no laundry and his hands in his trench coat” is now my husband. KIDDING! He was actually my long lost twin brother. Siamese twin brother…who was with me the whole time…but was actually my alter ego and never existed at all. Someone get Matthew Broderick on the phone, we got a hit!
Stay tuned every Thursday for more unsolicited advice about shit you didn’t know you were doing wrong, and follow DGGYST on Facebook for more musings!