Downsizing your joy? Stop that. Let us be happy for you.
When I was 17 years old, a lovely English teacher told me to read Anna Karenina.
For those of you who aren’t literature dweebs, like me, Anna Karenina is an 832-page novel by the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy.
It’s very tragic and very dense and very “complicated,” in that way that makes you think, “This book must be a lot smarter than me, because I don’t really get what’s happening.”
I read it. As instructed. And then I wrote an essay that probably included the words “thusly” and “heretofore” way too many times.
And then I grew up and started writing books of my own.
After I wrote my first novel — which I awkwardly shared with my mom, my dad, and just a handful of friends — at age twenty-two, the people who loved me said: “That’s amazing! You did it!”
I said, “Yeah, well … It’s not exactly Anna Karenina.”
After I got my first book published — a sweet little collection of ‘thank you’ notes, with illustrations — at age twenty-eight, the nice folks at my launch party said: “It’s so cute! Great job!”
I said, “Thanks, but … It’s not like it’s Anna Karenina.”
After my second book came out — a daily journal for couples to share, together — an interviewer asked me how on earth I was able to write it in just a couple of days.
I said, “C’mon. It’s just a little journal. There’s barely even any text, in it!”
And just recently, after releasing a sneak peek at my next book — a sultry erotic novel — friends and fans have gushed, telling me, “It’s soooo hot! More! When? And how the hell did you write it in just three weeks?!”
To which I’ve replied, “Well, hey … It’s just mindless entertainment, right? No big deal.”
And then I remembered something a friend said to me, once, after watching me downsize my joy in front of a room full of people:
“Stop doing that,” she said. “We want to be happy for you, and … you’re making it harder.”
Thanks to her words, I’ve remembered:
The world needs Anna Karenina AND Fifty Shades of Grey AND Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood AND Beyonce’s latest album AND your blog AND my books AND your cousin Patricia’s open-mic night poetry, too.
Whatever you’re making?
And whatever you do?
And let us be happy with you.
What have you made lately that you’re REALLY proud of?