Thursday, October 22, 2009

getting over myself

Yesterday someone left a slightly scathing message after one of my blog posts. I had been writing about the seemingly endless things I do and they posted, "oh please, get over yourself." Short. Snappy. Snarky.

I've been trying to write about it this morning, but while these blog posts usually flow easily, I've been stuck. And I just realized, I don't want to play into someone else's negativity by playing out the whole scene again. I already did that. Last night. I let myself get caught up in self-doubt and flagellation for awhile. The thing is, I don't need someone else to send me there, I do quite a good job of it myself, thank you very much. I was brought up with a not-so-healthy dose of Jewish superstition, in which thinking positive thoughts could bring destruction in their wake. My mother, who learned it from her mother, would say "kenahura" and spit after any particularly constructive statement, as if to ward off jinxes that would spiral you and your happy thoughts to the pit of despair. For me, it's automatic. Instead of seeing a glass half empty or half full, I was brought up to worry about knocking the glass over and breaking it. I was trained never to voice things like, "I feel great," or "I know I'll get this job" because vocalizing those statements would unleash a chain of vengeance to put me back in my place, or worse, punish me for even having said them. I used to imagine almost harpy-like creatures, just waiting to teach me a lesson about being too over-confident.

But, that's a really horrendous way to go through life. It's basically the opposite of "The Secret" and all those new put-positive-thoughts-out-into-the-universe-and-everything-you've-ever-wanted-will-be-yours books. So, I'm working toward a middle ground. Not puffing myself up so much I resemble the Michelin man, but being open and acknowledging what I do, in a good way. Which leads me to this thought—women, particularly mothers, don't get to do that very often. So often what we do is wrapped up in other people. Their accomplishments or failures, projects and temper tantrums. I've been writing books for years now, but most people in my day to day life have no idea. I have design clients and projects, but kept that all very quiet. I efficiently compartmentalize my life, making sure nothing from one part spills into another.

Last year I invited a friend to come with me to my yoga studio—it's a big part of my life that no one else knows about. And it was really, really strange. It's a completely different set of friends. I'm a different person there. Blurring those edges wasn't easy. And now, I'm blurring all over the place. FLOW is forcing me to break down the walls between various parts of my life, hey, of me, and start mixing and matching. It's hard. I'm generally a very private person, who doesn't share much of myself and here I am opening up all over the place. And that opens me up to criticism.

So. Bring it on ps41 parent. And anonymous for that matter. It's all part of my learning curve.

Day 23. Introspective but with a positive ending.


OneGreatSmile said...

Well said, Elissa!! And *I* am willing to leave my name on that!

Alice Langholt said...

Balance in healthy doses is a good idea in all areas. We all have that voice, and I get that about the Jewish mother-inspired idea of not being too self-praising or hopeful. It's something to get over. Your book will be a great success and you're doing amazing juggling all you do. Keep up the great work and growth. You are awesome. Know it.

Jeremy said...

Oh no, you had to deal with the kenahura thing? Ugh. I didn't grow up with it, but my inlaws side of the family do that (without the spitting). Any time anything positive is said, someone has to come out with this superstitious nonsense. Because, you know, we have to ward off the evil eye. Can't things just be positive and leave it that? Why yes, in fact they can, and should be.

And I totally get the weirdness of mixing different life compartments. It can be very odd.

All in all, very well said.

joanna said...

Love it- your writing style and your sharing of yourself! Looking forward to reading the book...

Anonymous said...

You GO GIrl!!!!

PS 41 Parent said...

Are you kdding about being private, you go on and on.,,,

You publish intimate things about yourself and your children.

Please, you come off as self centered. Its not negative, its just feedback. Think about it....

ShellyKramer said...

Elissa, my most important rule is to be true to self. And commenting on anyone's blog in a negative fashion and being too much of a chickenshit to identify yourself is .... well, lame. It's so easy to be mean and nasty and negative and flat out rude when you don't have the gumption to sign your name to whatever it is you're saying. And, at the end of the day, it says a lot about a person's personality. And integrity. Or complete and total lack thereof. It is clear that ps41 mom or whatever her "anonymous" name is, is neither a friend nor anyone you should give two seconds' worth of consideration to. Seems like little green monsters have gotten the best of someone. After all, if she doesn't care for you, why's she lurking around, anonymously, slurping up your blog. She's the one who needs to suck it up and get over her own self.

True friends rule, my dear. Don't pay no nevermind to naysayers who lack confidence and thrive on negativity. Life is too damn short! And you are too damn wonderful to give this nonsense another thought.

Love ya!

Susan Powers said...

Shelly said it all. I couldn't agree more. There are so many of us that love reading what you have to say, I am grateful. And you are right about thoughts...I decided yesterday to start thinking "Great success can be right around the corner" instead of "disaster can be right around the corner". Much better way to live!


Dan Kern said...

"Get Over Yourself" is the 'name' of a spirit. It is a dark spirit, a spirit of the age. But once rejected, it loses its power.

Writers have a mantra, "show, don't tell."

Critics tell us what we should do, and not do. And I'm afraid it rarely works.

Artists show us what we should do by showing us 'themselves'.

It's how nature works. It's how the universe works.

Great show, Elissa, great show.