I’m in a weird place emotionally these days. I get up, go to work, focus on getting results, come home, listen to Rebekkah’s day, clean my home, and the whole process starts again the next day. I can honestly say, I work hard to maintain an outside veneer of pleasant calmness, but inside, something feels off. And despite my herculean efforts to hide my personal battlefronts, people can always tell when I am internally freaking out anyways, because I break out in hives. The more stress I’m carrying around, the more hives I get.
Even worse, I’m just a shade darker than a cold glass of milk, so anything remotely resembling any form of the color red stands out on me like a conquering army’s flag. For two weeks now, I’ve been breaking out here and there with these stress bumps, but today was the final straw. I look like a small pox victim. I have no choice but to start rooting up some of this crap growing in my mind, and tossing it into the incinerator of brutal honesty. So here goes. I’m getting ready to lay down some embarrassing truth about myself. I’ll do this in three parts. Today, I’m addressing my envy.
I. Comparing my life, and finding it worth less.
I have written before of the successes my brother Michael Cheshire has found as a writer, speaker, and humorist. I have not written much about my half-sister, Shawn Cheshire, who is a Paralympic gold medalist. I am the eldest of my mother’s children, while Mike is second, and Shawn is third in birth order. In all of my years growing up and living decades away from my childhood relationships, I would never have dreamed I could be the kind of person who would find myself subconsciously comparing the value of my life with someone else’s. And yet, here I am.
Albert Einstein had a sister named Maja. No one talks about Maja because compared to Albert, what could anyone say? She blew no one’s minds with theories of anything. She was probably wicked intelligent, but it wouldn’t have mattered much. Albert would have outshined her without even trying. I feel like Maja sometimes. Unknown, probably slightly insecure, average little Maja. A footnote in the great life of Albert Einstein.
I know that what I am experiencing is completely normal, and I imagine every person who has ever had overachiever siblings make it into the spot light has felt the same way at one point or another, but that doesn’t make any of this feel better to me. I hate feeling like my own life’s worth has anything to do with anyone else’s successes or failures, and I refuse to allow myself to remain in this strange place emotionally.
What is even more mind boggling is I’m massively introverted, and having people constantly follow me around with a camera while I’m exercising, or being bombarded by emails, letters, phone calls, or anything else of that sort would make my head explode. I would hate it more than I can put into words. Still, I have a feeling when I die, I might only end up being a quick footnote in the lives of two people who made an impact on the world in a big enough way to get people’s attention. No one sets out in life to end up a footnote. Footnotes are boring. Footnotes suck. I don’t want to be a footnote.
The brutal truth is that I can write too, like Michael, but I probably will never be a tenth as successful with it as he is. He has that spark of magic some people have that can’t be mimicked. His own scars have healed in such a way, he’s able to take the dark parts of life and make them endurable with laughter. That is a gift God gave him, and I do not begrudge him of it. I am proud of everything he has been able to accomplish, and none of it has a thing to do with my own successes and failures. He’s earned his successes.
Nor will I ever be any sort of athlete. Shawn has always had the physical self-discipline to push her body into running and exercising. I hate physical crap like that, and it comes as no surprise to me, she took something she loved and made a career out of it. She has always craved the attention and approval of others, and the fact that she was able to find all of that in one neat, tidy package is something I am glad for her about. Unlike me, Shawn’s extroverted nature has always been most comfortable on an invisible stage, living life for an audience. She’s a lot like our mother when it comes to that. I wouldn’t take that away from her either.
My life is my own to make, whether I do anything noteworthy with it or not. A sure-fire way to make it suck, though, is to set unrealistic goals for yourself based on someone else’s life. I’m finished with that. Maybe I’m destined to be a footnote. If I hate the idea so much, then it is within my power to change that. Nut up, or shut up.
Hopefully, this will relieve about a third of these itchy hives.
10 responses to “Living The Successful Footnote Kind of Life”
I know what you mean Bird.. I’ve been feeling the same recently.. I can definitely relate. However mine isn’t to my siblings.. I mean sometimes it is.. but it’s comparisons to everyone else around me. Comparing where I am in life to where they are in life and thinking I should be further than where I am now. It’s hard and frustrating and I try not to do it but sometimes I just find myself falling down the rabbit hole..
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It’s so easy to see the value of other people’s lives, and completely miss the uniqueness of our own. Feeling this way sometimes is not always in our control. But choosing to stay in this frame of mind is. We just have to crawl out of these rabbit holes and keep going. Envy never did anyone any good. Thanks for sharing, Apple!
I agree.. Choosing to stay in that frame of mind just makes things worse and will definitely never land you anywhere good..
I’m slowly crawling out of this latest one.. Decided to stop feeling sorry for myself, pick myself up and dust myself off and keep going.
Envy is the worst!
Thanks for this Bird 🙂
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Agreed, Apple! I’m rooting for you!!!
thanks for sharing, sometimes were footnotes other days were headliners, besides who wants to go down the street wearing a disguise just because they are well known, and every psycho knows them too, simple works.
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Dear Bird, I’m sorry to say I’ve never heard of your brother and I haven’t heard of your sister either though there’s more of a chance I would have done.I on’t believe that either of hem runs a successful blog that has so many followers and which aside from the mentions of chef can entertain and move it’s readers.
You’ll never be a footnote in our history.
You can write, the blog alone proves that. If you couldn’t, people would just drift away.If you want to battle Michael on his own ground why not do NaNoWriMo during November and create a novel or a factual book if that’s your bag. It’s not like you don’t have life experiences is it? Amazon are doing something with some new books which you could try or I’m sure there are always competitions at the end to submit a book to.
xxx Massive Hugs xxx
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lol…I love how you seem offended on my behalf! You are so sweet to me, David. I just have to keep ideas and festering feelings like these in check. I don’t like things with thorns growing in my garden!! Thank you for your awesome encouragement! Hugs right back to you!!!
Wow! I too am the oldest and I have a terrible relationship with my sister. My sister, the drug addict, the one who dropped her kid in my lap to raise. My Sister the one my mother makes every excuse in the book and defends to the bitter end. My sister who has the kind of relationship with my mother that I could not possibly ever have. You at least have peace with your family, I moved away to avoid the obvious emotional discourse. It took me years to figure out why I loathed my sister so much. In the end it really has nothing to do with her, but with something lacking in my life, something she has that I can never have. It took me a long time to accept that, to be able to let it go and be at peace with it. I still avoid family, but I know that it is mostly to avoid my own hurt and not find faults with my sister. I really dislike being so judgmental against her, but it is something I have to really focus on to avoid.
Congratulations on making peace with your insecurity. It is the hardest demon to face.
[…] I mentioned in my last post, Living the Successful Footnote Kind of Life, I have been breaking out in hives, which in my existence, is the signal my body sends up that I am […]
I so connect with this — I too silently envy the progress of my writer friends towards best-seller glory, then tell myself, wait a minute, Ellen: would that even make you happy? I figure the more often I ask this question and work towards what I really want, the comparisons will recede. p.s. I love footnotes! I always flip to the back of the book and read the endnotes. They often contain the most interesting nuggets in the book – and at this point, I’d much rather read a book about Einstein’s sister. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing.
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