I’m proud of you. That’s the entire point of this entire column/essay/article/Facebook post/English travesty/verbiage trainwreck/whatever you call it. So if you’re pressed for time, you can quit reading here.
Just know that I’m proud.
I’m nobody. So my proudness means nothing, really. But nonetheless, I am very proud of you. I hope you’re proud, too. You’re pretty great.
Over the next few days, you’re going to be getting together with family members. It’s the Christmas season. You will be with out-of-towners. Sons and daughters. Mothers and fathers. Brothers and sisters. Or—God have mercy—in-laws.
Or perhaps YOU are the out-of-towner. Maybe you’re the outsider at the table
Either way, you’re going to be hanging out with people seated across from the holiday supper who silently judge you.
People who smile at you in that fake, nasty-nice way. These Cherished Family members will be polite to your face, but will make you feel like turd soup.
You’ll feel under scrutiny. What does your house look like? Is it a mess? How about your life? Is it a wreck? How about your job? Is it a good one? What about your kids? Are they screwed-up? Or are they successful human beings with eight-digit incomes?
What about your current health? Are you sick? Are you in tip-top shape? Do you do cardio? How about yoga? Are you overweight? How about your financial portfolio? Stock options? How’s your guest bathroom? Is it clean? Or do you have a pink-carpet toilet seat cover that screams “Hints from Heloise” circa 1959?
Are you kick-butt successful? Are you a wealthy person with a current-model Land Rover Autograph, who has a financial advisor with Roman numerals after his name?
Or do you drive a 1992 F-150 with 197,623 miles, crumbling upholstery, rusted fenders, a busted stereo, dog-nose-slobber on the windows, and three pistons that misfire?
It doesn’t matter what your situation is, what I’m getting at is that you probably feel inadequate sometimes.
Maybe you find yourself wondering what the holidays are all about. You look at Christmas as a big commercial sham designed to make corporations rich, and help CEOs afford summer homes in Maui.
Meantime, you’ve got a family member who is dying. You’ve got a son with pancreatic cancer. You’ve got a mother with Alzheimer’s. Your father is succumbing to ALS. You have spina bifida. Your mother has pulmonary fibrosis. Your child is going blind. You are a brittle diabetic. You’re bankrupt.
Life sucks. What the heck is everyone pretending to be so happy about? Life is a manure sandwich. Eat it or starve.
And here it is Christmas, and everyone is pretending to have it all together. They’re posturing. They’re exaggerating their triumphs. But you refuse to play the game. Because that’s just who you are.
You’re just sitting there, being you. For better for worse. You know the score. You know your own shortcomings. You know everyone else’s, too.
You know that nobody is as perfect as they portray. Sure, everyone’s lives have great moments, but other parts of their lives are—let’s face it—fit for Jerry Springer.
But you’re not ashamed of anything. You own it all. The good. The bad. The hideous.
Which is why I want you to know that I am so proud of you. It takes guts to be a human being. It takes bravery to wake up every morning and do what you do.
So let them judge you. Let them make their passive-aggressive remarks. Let their ignorance roll off you like Coca-Cola rolls off Scotch-Guard. Smile and nod.
But, whatever you do, don’t compare yourself to Them. Don’t pay attention to the differences between you and Everyone Else. Just keep being you. Just keep doing what you’re doing.
Maybe you feel like nobody notices you. Maybe you feel singled out. Maybe you feel like a reject. But you’re not.
You’re a bright star, shining in a dark world. Your life is a poem, written by the greatest Poet of all time. Your birth was ordained. Your circumstances are just the way they’re supposed to be. You’ll see. I promise.
So have a merry Christmas. And if you can’t have a merry one, at least have a meaningful one. And just know that some putz, way out in the wilds of Alabama, is so proud of you it hurts.