I confess that I don’t feel like I’m working to my potential. And it makes me feel sick. I know the signs. It starts with me not being able to cope with my to-do list. It all looks too overwhelming. So I scale things back: I take out everything that has to do with starting a company.
The next stage of not living up to my potential is that I can’t read anything. I tried to read the New York Times magazine cover story about fixing a marriage. I can’t open it, though. The woman who is the author wrote about her own experience. Fuck. I should have posted about that.
I should have written the post about how our couples therapist fired us because neither of us seems to be capable of getting past our horrible childhoods long enough to connect with someone in a real way. He fired us but then I used my amazing negotiating skills to convince him to take us back and then I had a screaming fit in the therapist’s office and said he’s incompetent and doesn’t give us clear direction. It was a good moment, actually. Because now that I fired him, instead of him firing me, I am fulfilled in my need to ruin relationships with people all around me and I now I have space to let the Farmer get close to me.
Elizabeth Weil, from the New York Times magazine, will get a book deal from her piece. I will get a lot of comments from my paragraph. The comments will be: You should write more about that.
It’s true. I should. I should have a book deal, right? Don’t tell me that, okay? Because first of all I make way more from this blog than I would from a book, so why do I need a book? But I worry that maybe I should have another book because I won’t feel like I’m a real writer until I have a book New York Times book reviewers fawn over.
Should is a dangerous word. Someone once told me there is no word for should in Spanish. Is this right? Surely, though, there is a Spanish way to say I feel like crap because I’m not living up to my potential. After all, Spanish is the language of Catholic guilt. Should is the American way of putting ourselves down in the name of the need to impress other people.
I should be starting another company. Here’s why: I can’t stop thinking of companies. I have a community that is always receptive to my ventures, and I have tons of connections into mainstream media where I could market whatever I come up with.
Instead of all of that, I am homeschooling.
Oh. Please. Please God of Editorial Decisions stop me right now from writing about how sick I am of my kids. Let me write something poetic about the joys of parenting.
I am homeschooling because my job is to be a parent right now. It is such an incredibly boring job. As a whole, the job is enthralling and rewarding and full of joy. But day to day I could cry. Day to day I think, “All my interesting friends are sending interesting emails today and having interesting meetings.”
Sometimes I think of taking skateboarding lessons while my son does. Or swimming while my kids learn racing dives.
If I really hated this life, I’d be changing it.
But all I want to do is write. I don’t feel like I should write, I feel like I have to write or I will die.
So the stuff I think I should do. I’m not doing it because I don’t need to, I guess. I guess I’m blogging because I need to.
I did an experiment last month. My traffic went down 50% because I didn’t do all the little things I usually do to keep traffic up (like write something to get on the homepage of CNN.com). I didn’t post very much. You know what happened? I made more money from my blog last month than I have in forever.
So my blog traffic is not that important. And it’s not that important to post regularly. Except that I have to.
So this is what I’m telling you: There is no should. There is no living up to your potential. There is just doing your life. You can’t do someone else’s life.
If we know our goal, and we know our life, and we are working toward it, then we never talk about our shoulds.
So maybe I can just focus on a single goal: being vulnerable enough with the Farmer to connect with him and get us back into couples therapy. Or maybe living up to my potential is giving my kids great days and giving my husband a good wife. And maybe all I need to do is write this.