Letters: On Celebrating the Small Stuff

Dear Friends,

Here is a thing I made!

I’m not going to make a PDF copy of it because you can make your own. I don’t see the use in you having a list of my big wins. But I do see a use in me having it.

I don’t want to be a downer, but life is hard. Maybe you’ve noticed. Even when life is good it can be hard, and I have to be honest: I have a really good life. I have a lot of good people. I have a safe place to sleep, enough food to eat, and something left to share with my friends and enjoy for myself. On Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, all my boxes are consistently checked, so what could I possibly have to complain about? I won’t burden you with my list because as much as I might want to tell you everything that’s wrong with my life right now, the point here is to lift both our spirits, not dig in to the gloom. I’ve been talking with my team at work about celebrating our victories, and I realized I didn’t know quite how to model that authentically, so I thought I’d give it a try.

This little zine had its inception during scrimmage practice last week. After the first couple jams, I still couldn’t shake off my work week funk. I wasn’t doing badly, but as I returned to the bench after jamming, I was beating myself up for not getting lead. I felt mentally and emotionally tired, and it’s surprisingly hard to make a great physical effort when your brain is much. The face of my friend Prima came to mind. We were fresh meat together years ago, and when we played in our first scrimmages, she would say one positive thing she had done after every jam. I decided to try it …

Oh right! As soon as the other jammer got out, I made a successful star pass that allowed my teammate to get out as jammer and force the call off. And I immediately switched to playing defense and wasn’t too winded to block. Oh, and we had that sweet drawback …

With my focus shifted, I reaffirmed my intention to be as fully present with the game as I could, and riding the wave of positive reinforcement, started looking for little victories on the track for both myself and my teammates. My night took a turn from there and became full of wins. Obviously I needed to keep the joy going when I got home and had a little creative energy to burn, and that’s why I made my little Post-it note zine.

Learning to give myself credit is hard because there’s always this voice in the back of my head that’s like, “So what? You met your basic adult responsibilities. Some of them. Have you seen your desk lately? And you know so-and-so hates you now, right? Because of that thing you said when you were trying to be funny. It totally wasn’t funny. You’re kinda terrible.” That voice is brutal. My therapist tells me our inner critics are often trying to help us or protect us from perceived threats, and I guess this one is no exception. In a weird way, this relentlessly critical voice thinks it’s helping me. It keeps insisting that I get up and keep working even when it’s hard because life is probably always going to be hard in one way or another, and my choices are to keep going or give up on my dreams. On the other hand, what’s the point of living your dreams if every time you achieve one, some mean inner voice takes all the joy out of it?

I admit, my dreams are modest. I want to play roller derby to the best of my ability among friends who value and support one another. I want to run a sustainable business that empowers good people to do good things and makes a positive impact in our industry. I want to be a source of goodness in the lives of the people I love. I really wish I could save the world, but I don’t think that’s a one-woman job, so I’m just trying to do my part. I don’t expect to be the best at anything, mostly because I don’t want the pressure that comes with it. Life is hard enough when we are just meeting our most basic responsibilities. This idea of life as a competitive sport in which we are all vying for the most money, likes, followers, accomplishments, or whatever it is people are counting as currency these days … well it’s bullshit, and it’s no fun. I am opting out of that game.

I will probably not be asking folks to make zines in our next team meeting, but I will start a new practice in my journal of writing down my big and small wins each day. Because sometimes everything is hard. Sometimes your mom gets sick, people don’t pay you on time, and poor communication turns your whole world into a mirror maze, and sometimes even (or especially) in the midst of all that chaos, I just need to remember that I am doing ok. Day to day, moment to moment, one decision at a time, I am doing the best I can, and I trust that you are, too.

So that’s where I’m at this week. I hope you’re doing well. I hope you have some personal victories to celebrate this week.

Sincerely,

Mary

This is My Letter to a Slightly Smaller World

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *