Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Pity Party: Table of One

Last night, my friend JK got on a plane, passport and visa in hand, and flew to London. After spending a few days there, she’ll be on her way to Wales, then Scotland, and finally Ireland, where she’ll be living for the next two years. After living in London for two years (November 2014-November 2016) on a UK visa, she always knew that, visa permitting, she’d be going to Ireland next.

If you know me well, you’ll likely know Ireland is my #1 dream destination. I’ve always wanted to go, and have even attempted to plan several trips, but something always happens and they fall through. When JK asked me last year to go with her to Ireland, I was determined to make it happen. I could stay there legally for three months without a visa, and since I can work from anywhere, it would have been ideal. I started saving immediately and planning out the things I wanted to see and do. I imagined the sweet little cottage we would stay in, my dream accommodation ever since reading Nora Robert’s Jewels of the Sun and fell in love with Jude’s house in Ardmore, Ireland. But as time went on, I had to accept the ugly truth: I wouldn’t be going to Ireland with JK.

Why? Simply put (although there’s actually nothing simple about it), the last year and a half has been hell for my family. Without getting into too many details, I’ve had a lot to deal with, a lot of responsibilities that shouldn’t be mine, and because of that, every time I’d get ahead with my savings, I’d need to use the money for something else. Not only that, but there’s no way I could leave right now; I’d feel like I was abandoning my family in their time of need. Even if I was the type of person to say ‘It’s my life, and I can’t let anyone or anything hold me back’, I know I wouldn’t be able to fully enjoy myself because I’d be worried about what was going on here.

Throw in the fact my career feels like it’s circling the drain, plus I’m stressed, overwhelmed, and overworked most of the time, and here I am throwing a fairly epic pity party. And I hate it. There’s no cake or balloons or entertainment, it’s just me inside my own head, alternately worrying and feeling sorry for myself. And feeling envious - there’s a lot of envy. I’m jealous of JK for getting to live my dream. I’m jealous she doesn’t have the responsibilities and commitments I have. I’m jealous her money is her own and she was able to save enough to go. I’m jealous of the countries she’ll see and the people she’ll meet and the experiences she’ll have while I’m stuck here, feeling like things will never change and having a hard time seeing any light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.

There are other factors, too, known mostly as ‘the online comparison game’. Being online, we’re surrounded by people living fabulous lives (or at least seemingly fabulous - what you see online isn’t necessarily the whole story) and it’s hard not to be envious sometimes. I follow a lot of travel accounts on Instagram; at times I realize I’m a masochist, because seeing all those beautiful places I long to travel to makes me wistful and sometimes downright sad, depending on my mood. And yet I love looking at pictures of pretty places and getting ideas of places to go and things to do someday. Can you say 'bear for punishment'?

Another issue (there’s more?! you say) is seeing people gain massive amounts of followers, or sell thousands of books, or get sponsorships and other great opportunities while I feel stagnant in so many areas. I’ve read so many blog posts with flashy titles like ‘the must-do trick to quadrupling your Instagram following’ or ‘how I hit the bestseller list and made enough money to quit my job’ or ‘how I got eleventy billion page views in six months’ (okay, I made that one up, but you get the idea). I’ve tried many of the things people have suggested, always hopeful the newest idea will be THE ONE, and I sit and watch my nothing. Hardly anyone reads my blog, my Instagram follower number is stuck, and don’t even get me started on my book sales. It’s hard not to get frustrated and that frustration often leads to feeling sorry for myself.

Here’s the thing about all of this: I know I’m being ridiculous. I know this is small peanuts in the grand scheme of things. I also know I have so many things to be grateful for and a lot of people have it far worse than I do. But that’s the thing about self-pity: it’s not exactly a discerning emotion. It doesn’t care that you’re smart of self-aware or have better things to do with your time than wallow over things you can’t change. But then that’s part of it too - not being able to change things and feeling powerless and hopeless. It’s a vicious cycle.

So what do I do with all these overwhelming emotions? I guess the only thing to do is just keep on keeping on. Continue to work as hard as I can, save money, hope the situation with my family improves, and believe that someday I’ll get to Ireland and that everything else will sort itself out. I saw this quote yesterday while I was working on this blog post, and it really spoke to me:

“If it doesn’t open, it’s not your door.”

I’ve always been someone who believes everything happens for a reason. I have to believe this isn’t my time to go, for whatever reason. But I refuse to give up on my dream of going to Ireland. And in the meantime, I’ll continue to work hard, focus on the areas of my life I can change (like writing and publishing more books, which will likely lead to more book sales), remember I have plenty to be thankful for, and hope that when I finally do get to travel again, it’ll be amazing.

As for online stuff, despite my masochistic tendencies when it comes to following people living the high life, I do have some advice for others who get jealous of people online: It’s important to curate your Instagram/Twitter/Facebook feed. It’s one thing to feel occasionally wistful at something someone else has, but it’s a completely different story if someone else’s life makes you feel like shit about your own. If someone’s feed makes you feel like you’re not good enough or you find yourself making constant comparisons, hit the unfollow button. It’s there for a reason. People should inspire you, not bring you down.

There are times in everyone’s life where they want what they can’t have. Everyone occasionally wants more or wishes things were different. The trick is to focus more on what you do have. What you can accomplish. I talked recently about self-care and giving yourself permission to feel your feelings. You're allowed to feel down and you're also allowed to take some time for yourself (social media breaks are especially good if online stuff is a source of your issues). Work through your feelings, find the root of the problem, and figure out what you can do to make things better. And if you want to sit at my table of one and make it a table of two, maybe we can turn this pity party into a real party. My comments and email are always open, or feel free to tweet me if you need support or encouragement.

Do you ever get in funks where you feel sorry for yourself? What do you do to get over them?



  1. I'm so sorry, Marie. If I lost out on a chance to live in Ireland for even a week I'd be heart broken. When you desperately want something and can't seem to have, no matter what you do, it seems like every where you look someone else has what you want. You're on the right track with the being grateful for what you have. It's hard to do but it does help if we can focus on the good. I envy your ability to not only finish your books but to get them out there. I could never finish my stories. I also know you're so lucky to work from home. I finally get to do that too and we're so so lucky. I hope you're not down for too long and that the family stuff gets worked out. You'll get to Ireland. *hugs*

    1. Thank you so much, Jenny. *hugs* We're definitely incredibly lucky to work from home. I know a lot of people wish they could, and it's not something I ever take for granted, especially with my anxiety. Writing this blog post honestly helped a lot, and having such warm, caring responses like yours really helped, too, so thank you. <3

  2. *squeezes you tight* I feel this, mine isn't completely the same as your situation, but you know I feel it. It's so damned hard to stand idly by and watch everyone else do stuff on your bucket list. I'm always thinking about you, always hoping things improve and get better. Even though certain aspects of real life might suck because they take you away from your dreams, I still think you're blessed with your life in some pretty important ways. You're amazing. You're beautiful. And we'll go to Ireland together someday. :)

    1. *hugs* Thanks, Jess. I'm trying to change my mindset on a lot of things, this included. I've been doing better at seeing the positive in crummy situations, and trying to focus on the things I have to be grateful for.

  3. Such a great blog post, Marie. I think most people can relate to what you're feeling in some way. I know that I do. I see authors with huge followings, strong friendships with other writers, and rankings on bestseller charts and feel the envy creep in. Sometimes it's really hard to be thankful for what I've achieved, especially when I work so hard as an indie and yet, sometimes it seems like I'm shouting into the abyss. I struggle with these feelings daily and I think when you suffer from anxiety and depression, at least for me, it seems to make the battle worse. I do think it's okay to have a pity party. Better to feel it and hopefully, pick yourself up a day or two later than bury it, and have it overtake you at a unsuspecting moment. Feel it. Acknowledge it, and try to let it fuel you forward. Don't give up. Keep going, keep writing, keep dreaming of that trip abroad. You might not realize your dreams today, but maybe tomorrow or the day after. Your honesty in this post (and many others) is refreshing and relatable. Please don't change! I think you're brilliant. You're kind, generous, talented, and I truly believe you'll make it to Ireland and beyond. --Jackie xo

    1. Aah, Jackie, you're making me cry! Thank you so much. I think you're amazing too, and I'm so grateful for your friendship these past few months. I definitely agree that when you throw in depression and anxiety, it makes things worse. Your emotions are already heightened, and sometimes the littlest things seem overwhelming, let alone when it feels like a bunch of crap gets thrown at you all at once (aka, my life the last year and a half, haha). I'm getting better at acknowledging my feelings, giving myself permission to actually FEEL them, and then finding healthy ways to deal with them so I don't let them keep me down. Thank you again. <3

  4. I often feel sorry for myself with my writing because it seems like I can never get the traction others have gotten and it takes me forever to get books out. This summer has been busy for me with family and health crap too, so I feel ya there.

    Just as long as you don't give up on trying to get to Ireland then there's always a chance you'll make it. And yeah, sometimes you have to just go do it and worry about how to pay it back after.


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