The Waiting Place

I write something almost every day.

I bet you’re thinking, But wait. You don’t post something every day. What happens to most of what you’re writing then?

The answer is less than satisfying. For the most part, my unpublished works are sitting in a “Drafts” folder, which closely resembles The Waiting Place in Dr. Seuss’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go! You know, that place where people are Waiting for the fish to bite, or waiting for wind to fly a kite, or waiting around for Friday night, or waiting, perhaps, for their uncle Jake, or a pot to boil, or a Better Break, or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants, or a wig with curls, or Another Chance? Yep, it’s just like that.

In fact, my whole life is just like that place.

My posts are waiting for a socially relevant time to share, or cohesive message with a valid point, or grammatical revision, or for me to address one of the many other reasons I have to scour and revise them, right up until they’ve been poked, prodded, and so fact-checked and foolproof no one can possibly debate the contents. I edit and scrutinize until I publish something I’m proud of and willing to affix to my own reputation. It’s a tremendous amount of work. Like, a lot. I’m a hard worker, and I put my whole heart into just about everything I do.

But somehow, no matter the amount of waiting and revising and working, my posts have yet to materialize into much more than works to be read and agreed-with by people who already know and like me. Then they close their browser windows and move along to something else.

I can’t help but wonder what it is about my writing that prevents my work from being more successful. After all, I see far more poorly written, less-researched articles perpetuated on a grand scale on a regular basis.

There’s something about my work, and really me as a person, that has the editorial staffers at my favorite sites responding to my best submissions with notes like, That was great and we loved it! But we’re not publishing it. It’s the same quality that has prompted my past employers to tell me I’m The best person for the promotion by far, but we’re still giving it to that person over there. 

It’s an odd paradox, being a person who’s consistently reminded of her talents and abilities, but still only ever performing smack in the middle of the average category. Of course there’s nothing wrong with average. It’s fine. It’s passable. But life as the human equivalent of a C plus is exhausting. It feels as if you’re confined to those two pages. As if your entire life is bound to play out right there in The Waiting Place.

Dr. Seuss and like-minded individuals are quick to advise us human C pluses to avoid The Waiting Place, a place that is ironically unavoidable. They’re quick to point out how our mountains are waiting, and how we’re able-bodied and capable, with heads chocked-full of brains and feet-filled shoes, but they never seem to tell us what to do once we’ve expended our brainpower and reached the limits of our able-bodied-ness. They never tell us what to do after we’ve pushed, and shoved, and clawed, and worked until we’re broken and spent and that stupid freaking mountain hasn’t moved a stupid freaking millimeter.

If you’re expecting this paragraph to contain an answer if the form of a personal revelation coupled with witty and uplifting advice, you’re about to be let down. What I can say, to those of you stuck in unmoved mountain territory, is this:

  • I’m cool with you being mad at the world from time to time.
  • If some other guy’s mountain falls on him, that’s unfortunate, but really, don’t berate yourself for feeling frustrated that your still-standing mountain hasn’t moved. Sometimes other people have bigger problems than yours. Much, much bigger even. That still does not negate your right to feel what you feel.
  • Everything doesn’t happen for a reason.
  • You’ll never leave where you are in life until you decide where you’d rather be. Unless you’re evicted, or some life circumstance prevents it, or wherever you want to be is outside of your financial means. Also, you can decide to be happy with where you are because getting to where you’d rather be seems like a lot of work.
  • A person can be grateful for what she has, while feeling discouraged about what she doesn’t. Feeling good about your personal appearance doesn’t cancel out your financial problems. Having a healthy marriage doesn’t cancel out a lack of progress at work. We are allowed more than one emotion per human at a time.
  • Pain is just the French word for bread. And it’s just the English word for pain, which you’re allowed to feel without acknowledging nonsensical quotes that make light of it. Have you ever had French bread? It’s really scratchy and I don’t like it that much.
  • There are some people who just get what they need, when they need it, without working as hard as those of us who don’t. They just happen to have whatever quality is opposite of us human C pluses. It sucks and it’s unfair. The end.
  • Hardship builds character, but some of us are full up on character. Seriously. I’m cool with my moral fiber as it stands, so I’m going to go ahead and pass on whatever painful event is up next.
  • You can’t make a rainbow without a little rain. Also, you can’t make rain because you don’t have control over any of that.
  • I’ve heard that insecurity kills more dreams than failure, which is ridiculous. Failure means you literally failed. Failure is murdering your dream’s soul in the face. Insecurity just means you’re insecure. I promise you can succeed at lots of things while feeling insecure.
  • I’ve also heard that happiness is by choice, not by chance. You know what else is by chance? When your whole family dies in a tragic accident. If by chance that happens, I don’t expect you to choose to be happy about it.
  • Sometimes when a door closes, a window opens, which is stupid. Because no one wants to crawl out a window to get to where they could’ve gone using the damn door in the first place. And no one wants to run around the house trying to figure out how the crap to get out because a bunch of doors and windows keep opening and closing.

If you’re about to remind me that Oh, The Places You’ll Go! acknowledges that life’s not always easy, I’m aware. It’s just that those of us presently stuck in the not-so-easy parts aren’t really interested in being told we could fix it if only we’d work hard. We have. We still are.

If you need me, I’ll be in The Waiting Place, just waiting for that hard work to pay off.

(Or done.)

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