Pushing Past Popularity. Or Fear (but that didn’t start with a P)

I feel like I’m going to throw up.

Or maybe hyperventilate.

On the plus side, self-urination does not seem to be among the imminent responses to my anxiety.  Yee-ha for progress.

I’m telling myself that writing this will not help; it may actually make my problem worse, since cool people do not blather on about feeling uncool.  Faiqa would never get herself twisted up about being uncool.  But writing about puking or hyperventilating is the only thing I feel confident about right this moment.

Of course, now that I’ve said that I’m struggling to string together coherent thoughts about fast breathing and vomit.  Awesome.

I wish I was cool.

More than that, I find myself in a position where being cool would probably be a serious benefit to my career.  Everyone knows, after all, how important networking is – but only if you can network with the cool kids.  I’m afraid that I need to be cool in order to make some of my biggest dreams come true.

And I’m not.

I am so. fucking. not.

And I feel horribly guilty for caring.  I feel uppity for wishing I was more than I am.  I feel supremely foolish for not being satisfied with my known place.  Greedy.  Selfish.  Embarrassed.  Who the hell am I to dream of growing beyond my league?

I have started and stopped emails to women who are cooler than me a dozen times over the last several days.  Pitches.  Proposals.  Official requests for rejection.

And I can’t do it.  I can’t hit send.  I imagine these women being offended that I would dare to put myself in their presence, dare to act as if I belong in their circle.  I see them sneering and rolling their eyes, hear them complaining about my pathetic wastes of their time with their friends. Or worse, they simply dismiss me with that look that says “we both know better, don’t we?”

And we do.  We both know better.  We both know that they are the real deal and I am an impostor masquerading as someone relevant.

These are the words that swim just beneath the surface, and I can’t help but cry at their cruelty as I type them out.  It’s horrible, hateful language to aim at myself, but it’s there whether I own it or not.

I want to scream, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?”

What key piece that these other women seem to have was I born without?  How do they make it look so easy, while I flop and flail loudly, spilling and knocking shit over and generally making an uncomfortable scene?  And why, when it seems to matter so damn much to me, couldn’t I have been chosen as a keeper of one of these elusive fucking keys?

Why do I want what I can’t have with such intensity?

I feel pathetic… but I also feel angry.

I’m angry at the woman who doesn’t return my sincere smile.  I’m angry that she tolerates my presence, failing to appreciate my warmth and humor (because clearly I am a ball of happy!)  I’m angry at the woman who looks down her nose at me and designates me not cool enough.  I’m angry at her superior attitude and aloof glances over my shoulder.  Who the hell does she think she is to treat me – to treat anyone – as if they are beneath her?

I’m torn on how much of my lack of cool is in my head and how much is in hers.  Theirs.  They who are cooler than me.  They who work to ensure that I stay in my place so that they don’t lose theirs.

I’m torn between shame and indignation.  The voice in my left ear whispers, “shame on you” while the one in my right snarls, “fuck them.”

Both voices are ugly.  Neither are lights to be guided by.

So I sit motionless without a guide.  Sad and afraid and pissed off at my own lack of courage.

And then I go and tell the Internet because that is just fucking genius.

**UPDATE, The Next Morning**

I have to update this before I call my mother this morning and she verbally kicks my ass for the negative self talk.

Plus, I need to defend a few cool kids.

After I wrote this yesterday, I got off the computer, put away the List Of Things To Do To Be Successful, and went to watch a documentary with my husband and kids.  And then I watched the Hot Tub Time Machine with my husband after the putting the kids in bed, and I got up this morning and went to the gym and sweat my butt off before 6:00 am.  While I was doing my cool down, I read through some of the comments you guys had left on this post.

And somewhere in there, I remembered a few things that I needed to tell you.  And me.

The bitchy cool woman who snubbed is mostly a figure of my imagination.  It’s the idea of her that torments me.  Oh, sure, I’ve reached out to people who didn’t welcome me with open arms – we all have.  But who the hell knows why that is.  Timing.  Mismatched personalities.  Life.  The truth is, those instances are few and far between, and yet the possibility that I could be rejected and laughed at looms larger than reality when I’m scared.  I find myself needing to play the “real or unreal” game to regain perspective.

Some very, very cool and very, very successful people have not rejected me.  They have responded to phone calls and emails for help, shared personal information about their careers with me, and offered time and tips with no strings attached.  Real.  Very real.  And it’s an insult to these women to forget that, to not let that matter and shine brighter than fear of imaginary creatures.

I just… get scared, you know?

When the dreams get big enough and the stakes precious enough, the lies we tell ourselves become more convincing.

Giving these lies legs to walk around on this blog may seem counterproductive, but it helps me to face them.  It helps to flesh out the things that I’m most afraid of so that I can see more clearly what is real and unreal.

I’m nervous?  Real.

I’m a failure?  Unreal.

I’m inherently flawed and the only person to feel like this? Unreal.

I’m going to suck it up, pull up the big girl panties, push through the fears and keep going anyway?


Thank you for helping me tell the difference.

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