Instead, I’m beginning to wonder how many of us even live our lives authentically. How many of us think of ourselves exactly as we are, rather than making up mental images of ourselves as great writers, teachers, accountants, janitors? Does anyone walk around on a given day and actually think – “I’m a pretty good guy. I’m okay at my job. I’m a fair friend.” I doubt it.
Instead, we seem to either be constantly beating ourselves down or lifting ourselves up. We feel crappy about ourselves – our belly fat, our mediocre salaries, our children that occasionally bite other children – and then we think – who are “they” (read I) to judge me? I’m a great person. I deserve respect. And we do.
But I wonder if this series of fictionalized memoirs is a direct result of a culture that says what we are isn’t good enough. That we can’t just be people with cats, moms, guys who drive Toyotas. We have to be these either completely downtrodden but then overcoming survivors, or we’re not good enough. Normal is passe.
And it’s the publishers that support this. How is it possible, post James Frey, that people can get this level of fabrication past an editor? How does that happen? We still aren’t fact-checking? I doubt it. My guess is that we’re just hungry for inspiration for what we could be – the girl who makes it through life on the streets of SouthCentral – instead of what we are – the girl who wonders how she’ll get sixty papers graded by the end of the day. Our own challenges seem never to be enough. We need “real” obstacles. And so editors let us see them in the books they publish.
I’m not going to be these lies – either in books or in my life if I can help it. Instead, I’m going to be mediocre with moments of absolutely sparkly, as my yoga teacher Melissa says, brilliance. After all, the pretty, shiny stuff stands out better when it’s in the midst of the pieces of life that have been worn dull. Billions of dull little pieces, with a couple of sparkly ones in the bunch. That’s life.