|"Hmm....it's probably not good that I'm being eaten alive. Meh, there's nothing I can't do. I don't WANT to do anything. I might as well give up. Nothing I try seems to work anyway. *insert more foolhardy depression junk here*"|
I discovered a fascinating study that had been done on the link between creativity and mental disorders this morning as I was working on "self improvement" hour. I had been listening to a podcast by some local authors http://www.writingexcuses.com/ and it was really interesting because they spoke very frankly about depression and other mental disorders that they had had to face in their careers. Honestly, the part about creativity possibly breeding depression really spoke to me. Basically, I wake up every morning angry, overwhelmed, defeated, and passive aggressive about everything in the whole entire universe. In order for me to not be COMPLETELY overtaken by a monster similar to the one above, I've been trying to exercise some serious mental self-discipline, but HOLY junk IT'S HARD!
There's all these rumors that circulate around Utah about how we're the highest consumers of anti-depressants in the nation, as well as the biggest customers for breast implants, cosmetic surgery, and hair removal. Now, I'm not SURE if this is all true, and quite frankly, I'm a bit concerned about what I would find if I googled the information. Suffice it to say, that if you drive to Salt Lake from where I live, the billboards would certainly seem to agree with the myths, true or false. It's just that, for some reason, our culture, in particular seems to put some SERIOUS pressure on women to be perfect. I've often wondered if it's the same in the rest of the country, and I'm just not noticing, because I only happen to be visiting other places to do festivals, so I only meet the awesome renaissance-faire goers.
Whatever the actual truths, I think everyone would agree that we live in a very tough world. And heck, I hardly know a single family that hasn't been affected by job loss, setbacks, pay-cuts, and demotion type stuff in the last few years. I know very few women who don't deal with body issues at least on SOME level. In the midst of all of this, I always feel HORRIBLY guilty for even feeling an ounce of disappointment with where I currently am. I have been so blessed to have an incredible husband, good kids, a pretty successful company, and marvelously loyal customers. It feels like an absolute betrayal to feel any depression.
Yet, I wake up, I take a look at facebook, and those gross, hideous, negative running narratives start. I'll take a look at the wonderful supportive customer group on the "swap-meet" page, and I'll see a post about a customer that doesn't like how her bodice makes her look and feel, and instead of thinking logically and perhaps trying to figure out a creative solution, I feverishly indulge in reading all of the other comments, and then continuing on with my own wretched dialogue in my brain. It goes to a REALLY bad place in a hurry. "Gee, Michelle, you set out to make women feel better, and you end up making them feel worse. Applause. Most likely all of these women are all going to tell all of their friends ever, and then all of them will hate you and talk about you behind your back. They're going to make whole entire facebook groups just for hating you and talking about how you've disappointed them. They're all going to start buying things from people who makes similar things to yours. You'll stop making anything and have to fire your employees, who will resent you for your poor management. Your husband will leave you and take the kids because he's so disgusted at how much of a failure you are. You'll only be able to afford ramen noodles, and your body will go to crap, and you'll go and live with your parents on their farm, where they'll make you clean dishes and milk the goats, as they hang their heads in shame."
Yeah...that's pretty much what it sounds like. All of that from one little comment. Why in the HELL would my brain go there?? First off, it's completely selfish and egotistical. To think that I matter that much, and that I have that much power is downright idiotic. Also, where is the part of my brain that needs to be the LOUD one that says, "Hey Michelle, unhappy customers are a fantastic opportunity to examine your company and see how you can better serve people! Because you're resilient and creative, and strive very hard to be compassionate and understanding, the good customers will see that and appreciate you all the more." And honestly, that's exactly what happens. When I go to festivals, people are always taking me by the shoulders and saying, "Hey, you're way too hard on yourself!" But holy heck, I don't feel like I'm the one inventing these indulgent self-criticisms! I'm not NEARLY creative enough to come up with this sort of negative rabble! I almost feel like it comes, unbidden, out of nowhere, latches itself onto every little piece of happiness in my brain, and then festers away.
Let me make it clear that I REALLY don't like to talk about this stuff. I had a very wise manager at the wedding dress shop where I worked that told me to always keep everything between the customer and me POSITIVE. She told me to refrain from even saying negative things about other crazy brides, because even though the subject was not about the current customer, that very same customer might only take away the negative and NOT retain the postive. I've found that in my own experience! If I'm talking to someone working retail, and they say anything even slightly slanderous about the company for which they work, it always leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And goodness knows, I don't like to be vulnerable and show people my failings. I very much fancy the idea of being some kind of pseudo corset celebrity that is always perfect, just like the Utah billboards tell me to be. ;)
Therefore, I don't like being honest and frank about some of the down-sides of entrepreneurship and owning a company, because I don't want you guys to take away a negative feeling! Goodness knows I haven't always succeeded there. I've received plenty of hate-mail and malicious comments over foolhardy things I've said in the heat of the moment, and I've deserved a lot of it. If I made you take away a really gross feeling, then it's definitely my responsibility, and there's only so many times that someone will forgive a company. We live in this whole entire world on the internet where everyone is a critic, everyone has a strong opinion, and nobody suffers repercussions for blasting others to smithereens! You can hide behind anonymity and slowly crumble down the whole world until their down on your level. It's the cool, hip thing to do.
I've got to say, the very IDEA of spending my valuable time finding faults in others and pointing them out publicly is woeful. (Wait, this is one of those ironies, where I'm saying mean things online about the people who say mean things online. OH, junk.) I mean, I know what the angry, vicious voice of depression feeds me, and I have an incredibly hard time bouncing back from that. To take that same kind of energy and hurtle it at friends, family, and unsuspecting victims......Yikes, we do live in a scary world.
This really doesn't have a conclusion. Usually I like to wrap these up in a nice little life lesson, but I've just got nothing. I don't want a bunch of positive comments here.......for the LOVE OF EVERYTHING GOOD AND DECENT, please go and spread some joy and kindness to the people around you who need it. Find someone who you haven't talked to in a long while, and instead of throwing something on their facebook wall or tagging them in your own status, give them a call....go out to dinner, do SOMETHING real!! The world beats us up. We beat ourselves up. Our jobs kick us hard, and then continue to kick us while we're down. Creativity sneers at you as she challenges you to get our of your comfort zone and stop defeating yourself before you start. Go out there and show Creativity who is boss.....hopefully that's you and me.