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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Measuring Up

Have you ever compared yourself to someone else and found that you don't measure up?

Well, stop it, you fucker.

Looking at your life through the distorted mirror of the lives of people you know is a dangerous trap, and it is one that will drive you insane-- slowly or quickly, depending upon your current mental status-- and such comparisons have the propensity to damage not only your self-esteem, but irreparably harm relationships that you hold dear.

I suppose that it is human nature to do this. I suppose we are all conditioned to compare ourselves to people of similar ages and see how their situations in life compare with our own. I'm married, are my unmarried friends happier? I don't have kids-- are my friends with kids more fulfilled than I? I sit behind a desk all day, are there other people out there whose jobs are more rewarding? Are there people out there who socialize more (99.4% of the population, probably), drink more (ditto there), laugh more, write more, get paid more, have more sex, do more drugs, take more chances, get more applause, see more continents than I?

Well, yeah. Of course.

The thing is, though, I don't care.

I hope you don't care either. I hope that all of us can walk through the doorways and into the rooms of our own lives and throw off the blanket of insecurity that threatens to smother us as we think about the choices we didn't make, as we look at the people we know, as we think back about decisions and actions and inaction, as we remember. It's not easy, I know. After all, there are people who went out on exciting first dates last night and got laid, and it wasn't me. After all, somewhere in some alleyway in some town somewhere, a dashing young cop chased a gunman down during an intense foot pursuit, tackled him, threw the cuffs on him, and removed the danger from society. And it wasn't me. After all, some lucky bastard just acquired a literary agent, and some luckier bastard just toasted the release of his new book, and neither of those lucky bastards were me.

My question is, "So?"

What can I do? What in the hell can I do about any of that? Can I sit in my house and look at my wife and my dog and my mortgage and my choices and resent them for preventing me from becoming what I feel I might have the potential to become? Who would I be if I did that? I don't want to be that, whatever that is.

The unfortunate thing about Generation-X, which I think I'm a part of, I don't know-- it's hard to keep track, is that we were raised to believe that we can be anything, be anybody, do anything. We were all raised to be trophy-winning athletes (present company excluded) and we were all told that we are special, our bodies merely vessels for infinite possibility. Regrettably, what that breeds is contempt for the status quo within us. That sort of attitude fosters an unquenchable longing for the libation of overachievement. Our current relationship cannot possibly be enough-- we're better than that, aren't we? We need a better car, a bigger house, a cooler job, smoother skin, a newer fucking iPhone with 3G, then 4G, 5G-- God only knows how many G's there will be over the course of the next few years. We're constantly checking out "the competition" never realizing that they're far more valuable as our friends.

I'm realizing every day that life is short, and that it really doesn't matter what you accomplish in terms of publication or approbation, noteriety or piety-- as long as you're good to people. I don't always succeed that that, but I try. Would the world have been that much different if I had been a cop, or a lawyer, or a professional writer or an actor? Maybe, but I doubt it. And who cares anyway? I'm just me-- tall, awkward, skinny, rambling, frequently embarrassed, painfully shy, usually inappropriate, married, dog walking, PT Cruiser driving, overdressed and underpaid me.

And why would I wish for anything different? I don't believe in comparing myself to others, just like I don't believe in unicorns, faeries, or Oz.

I do most definitely believe in spooks, though. They come out and scare the bejesus out of us every time we cast doubt on who we are.


  1. Generation x goes from 1967 - 1978.

    "Comparasions are odious" -- Dead Russian writer

  2. good for you! you sound like dear mr. apron.. it's great. and yea you're about 28-29? my ex thought he was a gen-xer too and he's 28. but, i think you're on the cusp. so i'm not sure if you're ACTUALLY X or Y but who the fuck cares? i actually feel i relate more to Gen X too and i was thinking of writing a post about that..eventually maybe. anyway, i like this entry. it's got a good message. it's hard to do because i was basically trained to compare myself to others.


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