January 21, 2020
I'LL SHOW YOU!
…is definitely not what I was thinking when I sliced left with the knife. Alas, I applied as much pressure as I could: I wanted a nice, clean line. No mess. No more worrying about this particular…problem. I was determined to put an end to it now.
But, Christ with a fungal groin infection, wallpaper is harder to cut than a human cadaver. I KNOW THAT'S WHERE YOU THOUGHT I WAS GOING WITH THIS. But I've personally never cut into a human cadaver to be able to make an apt comparison—though I have read, with great enthusiasm, two of my favorite books to date called, “Stiff,” by Mary Roach, and “Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and The Making of a Medical Examiner,” by Judy Melinek, and I gotta say: they prooooobably aren't using an X-Acto knife in their work. Did I mention that? That it was an X-Acto knife, not, like, a butcher knife that I was using? Not that it would have made much difference, on my very first attempt at wallpapering. But now I'm determined to get this paper on the wall for a much bigger reason than, “it'll look cute.” Because now?
I'm determined not to let rejection limit me.
Remember the post about ThE CoNtRaCtoRs? The PrOs who come out and say they'll give a quote and then ghost you like a hot potato? The pros who, apparently, do this so much that they've got a solid reputation for ghosting their clients? Yes, them. Well, I've been thinking about them. [creepy voice] I've been thinking about how mad I'm getting, to have reached back out to them and ~still~ not receive a response. And make no mistake: this is rejection. A weird fucking form of rejection, to be sure, but it is. That's what it feels like: I'm not good enough for you to even so much as dignify with a response.
AND SO OF COURSE I HAD A MOMENT. I had a moment, what can I say?! And I looked at that damn wallpaper sitting there so perfectly in its little Anthropologie roll, and I started to think things. Namely:
Shouldn't have eaten those beans last night.
How hard can it be?
Like, how hard can it really be? One of the things I write about in my new book is that we always think of all the reasons why we aren't qualified to do something—but what about all of the reasons that we are? As I wrote there:
“I had always risen to the occasion—and I had no reason to believe that this would be any different. Turns out, even when your brain takes over and convinces you that you are unqualified and incapable, you are nothing of the sort. You have won a thousand little battles all on your own. And you will win a thousand more.”
Okay, so maybe that's a little dramatic for a conversation about wallpaper. But it's kind of nuts how something so basic can become this COMPLICATED, SCARY THING in your head. We don't have to be talking about wallpaper: we could be talking about standing up to your mother-in-law, or pitching a magazine, or writing your bio, or telling your clients that your rates are going up. All fairly simple, straightforward activities—and all activities we make into this giant MOUNTAIN inside our heads. Like me, with the wallpaper. I don't know where I got the idea that hanging wallpaper was so hard, but I truly believed that it needed to be done by a professional—or else.
Until I got fed up enough to try.
And wouldn't you know! As I sat there last night with my X-Acto knife, I suddenly felt like I could take on the world! (Or at least the whole apartment.) I felt like the smartest freaking human who ever lived. Forget publishing a book: there's nothing like a little basic home improvement to fan the flames of one's confidence.
We overvalue the big goals and undervalue the small steps it takes to get there. But the small steps are where you get momentum. Think of Newton's Cradle: that darling little contraption with metal balls suspended in a frame. You only have to lift one ball in order to put something much larger than it into motion. That impact produces a compression wave—and that one little ball is felt throughout.
So, what's your little ball? (Not to be confused with “your little balls.”)
Find one and start. Pick up your metaphorical X-Acto knife. And prove to yourself that you are not as helpless as you feel.
You're only helpless when you stop helping yourself.
P.S. I'll be posting a pic of The Wallpaper I did last night over on Insta. HOLLA.
P.P.S. Only a few more hours of the Goodreads giveaway, where they're giving away 15 copies of The Middle Finger Project book!