Whenever I get too full of myself, sense my ego getting ahead of me, I have a go list of “gut checkers,” which remind me that I am just a normal, ordinary, imperfect, ball of neuroses. While self-appreciation is a necessary part of a healthy life, it is important to stay grounded by your flaws and inabilities, to cherish them as you do your greatest assets. They are part of who you are too. For example, my tremendous discomfort of speaking in public, my tendency to turn red and stammer the word “um” a little too much for my liking, is what drove me to develop swiftness with the pen (or the laptop). So I accept my ineptitude and try to reflect upon it with equal consideration, especially when I experience a personal high, because it is what motivates me to work that much harder. I like to think of it as utilitarian self-doubt.
I had a good day today. I experienced a writing career high when I accepted an award from the Illinois Woman’s Press Association – for a series I wrote last year on the booming economic/ecological phenomenon of urban agriculture. I put on a fancy dress and accepted the applause of a roomful of respected, accomplished female writers. It was awful, wonderful, humbling and empowering all at once. Sometimes I think I’d be more at peace, and less bewildered, if my feelings came in black and white.
I did take a moment to feel proud of my award, of course. In fact I feel so fulfilled today that I am equally up to the task of taking the piss out of myself. Because at the end of the day, I am still, and always will be, such a work in progress.
Six idiosyncratic Boop-isms:
1. I can’t do a THING with my hands. It is awfully good I was born with a brain that functions adequately enough, because if I had to draw, assemble, sew or otherwise create or fix anything with my left and right, I would be screwed. Case in point: as bored teenagers, my younger sister Jen used to ask me draw animals (ex. elephant) just to enjoy the mirth of watching my earnest floundering.
2. The Lexulous application on FaceBook owns me. I have a Master’s in English Literature, and am one of the biggest nerds I know, yet I suck in the extreme at this glorified Scrabble. Perhaps my pedestrian use of the word “suck” contributes to my problems. Regardless, I have a deplorable win ratio of 12.5% (two for 14).
3. I cannot roll my tongue. I am not double jointed. I am not a great whistler, nor can I do a backflip. Trust me, there was a time in my life (secretly not over yet) when I thought all of these things were awesomeness itself.
4. I can’t take Vicodin. In fact, I am allergic to more man-made drugs than anyone I know. Do you know how much fun this has cost me over the years?
5. Motion sickness. Cruel irony: I am one of the most enthusiastic natural daredevils in existence. But around the age of 12, I inherited the family motion sickness gene to the tenth power. I have ralphed in public more times, and in more countries, than I can bear to remember.
6. Fears: bees, dogs, needles and human statues (that last one is another post for another time).
In short, I am weird. This used to bother me a lot until I realized that everyone else is too. They are just more or less adept at hiding it. Now I celebrate it. Because whenever I take a step forward, I take my oddities with me. We’re partners.