Everyone's choosing a word for this year: "2019 will be my year of...Love, gratitude, health, kindness..."
Oddly, though I like to think words are something I use often, something I'm good at, I couldn't think of a word that really meant enough. And then I remembered a phrase that my people throw around often: same same.
It's a ridiculous qualifier, something adapted from the longer "same same but different," shortened and used to add light and humor when one grossly underachieves at something in comparison to others.
You skied Telluride for five days straight, and so did your three year old? I went to Willamette Pass and skied for 2 hours (sans safety helmet, wearing borrowed goggles) and put my kid into a lesson where she cried. Same Same.
Over winter break you read three self-help books to motivate you in 2019 and grow your business? I read ten romances and binged three seasons of The Last Kingdom. Same Same.
You've released 35 books in five years and created a readership of thousands? I've written 12 in eight years, and have a solid three hundred Instagram followers. Same Same.
No, it's not the same, but maybe that's the point.
It's been a hot minute since I last wrote anything more than an Instagram caption, and even then I've resorted to emojis rather than real words. The release of Lessons in Gravity in April 2018 was a failure in so many ways, and I think I needed to adjust to that. I needed to adjust to the idea that two characters I love, that I spent eight months creating, knowing, and understanding, were received with criticism and--even worse--apathy. I needed to adjust to the idea that no matter how many releases I put out, the book market doesn't really change for me.
And I needed to adjust to the idea that maybe, just maybe, my dream is one of those that will always push me, but not complete me. That it might be a dream that requires adjustment, and the admission that my success comes in writing the book, while others' successes come from major sales and NYT Bestseller lists.
(This is where we say "same same" and laugh. )
And I do, laugh, because I've realized that at some point, we get a choice. That's what 2018 was--the year of the choice for me. I could keep writing, keep stressing out and comparing myself and worrying over something I couldn't seem to control, no matter how easy it appeared for others, or I could make the choice to be different. Happy. More fulfilled and present with the people who matter (even though I still suffer from JOMO instead of FOMO).
So, moving forward, I will take the love and humor found in the phrase taught to me by those who always take the time to buy my books even when I know they don't read (ahem), and those who buy because they love me (love you back), and I will make 2019 the year of same same. It's not just a sarcastic response, though that is it's greatest point; rather, it's a reminder that humor must be found when it appears that a major failure or underwhelming response to a piece of work produced is on the horizon.
And it's a reminder that the comparison game, the one where we look at ourselves and our achievements and immediately wonder if they live up to someone else's standards, is a losing battle. Because while someone you know has built a six-digit income in five months, or traveled the entire world in the last 18 months, or produced four of the most beautiful, well-behaved children, all with an aptitude for something amazing, you've gone to work and gotten something (anything) done, while keeping your kids (mostly) safe and happy, while managing to hit a drive-thru that sells all-natural hand-cut fries with their hot dogs. Same Same, mothafuckas. Same Same.
Here's to you and your 2019--under-achievements and all.