old (2007), Uncategorized

my life is a game of tetris

Here’s what it’s like for me to play Tetris: I’m thinking ahead, looking at that little screen that tells me what pieces are coming next, frantically working out in my head how I’m going to fit the next three or four pieces together so I can repeatedly earn back-to-back tetris points, inwardly swearing when I screw things up, always racing to get as many points as possible because I need to get on the high-scoring board this time, but I’m screwing things up so majorly that I am absolutely certain no matter how perfectly I play the game, I will never make my name on that high-scoring board, but then the game ends and, whaddya know?, there it is: I’ve made it. And every time my Palm asks me to put my name it for the high-scoring board, I’m shocked that I played well enough to get there.

(My name is A. & I’m a perfectionist with low self-esteem.)

Usually, I laugh about this Tetris thing. Occasionally, it occurs to me that “normal” people are able to play the game either not caring whether they make it to the high-scoring board or with a relative confidence that if they do well, they will therefore make it. In other words, they either let go or they realize that competence is rewarded, a fact that neither surprises nor startles them. But still, it’s just a game, right? Uh, in my case, probably not.

Yesterday, two things brought this into focus. First, as I mentioned yesterday, I was asked to be on the Board of Directors for an up-and-coming parenting organization. As I researched more about this board, I realized it will also include vice-presidents of major toy companies, people who host children’s television shows, relatively well-known children’s entertainers, and other various high-level industry executives. And, of course, when I was asked, my first reaction was to wonder if they knew who I am; they couldn’t possibly want me, could they? And I’m still shaky about that, even though I am the local editor for a national website that is owned by (one of) the biggest media conglomerates in the world — uh, hello?, why wouldn’t a Chicago-based parenting organization want me on board? It’s not like we’re in freakin’ Omaha*.

And as I was still reeling from the being-invited, I finished up my newsletter and emailed it off to the Orlando editor, whose turn it was to edit my weekly stuff. The experience of writing the newsletter every week goes like this:

Start working on newsletter, searching for all the things that might be included. Realize I’ve missed three-quarters** of what’s going on in Chicagoland and need to spend the next 48 hours forgoing food and sleep to restore the site to perfection.

Start to panic, certain that if I don’t immediately add every parenting event and attraction within a 100-mile radius to the site, I will get a phone call from my editor saying I’m fired and they want to hire someone who is actually competent.

Continue to panic, but then realize it’s just a newsletter! Granted, it is sent out to more than 10,000 families, and my editor reads it meticulously, but it’s just one week! There is always next week! And next week will be totally different than this week, right? And so I go about editing and putting everything in our style, thinking surely it’s — at best — going to be a mediocre newsletter & when I get it back from the other editor, I’m going to have tons of corrections to make because this has to be the absolute worst newsletter ever written in the history of the website.

By the time I get the edits back from the other editor, I’ve usually resigned myself to this “fact” of a bad newsletter, and I’ve also convinced myself that when my managing editor sees how many edits were necessary, she’s going to fire me. I spend Wednesday evening and Thursday morning in a perpetual state of certainty that Today Will be the Day I Get Fired for Incompetence. And this is the state of my mind when I opened the email from the Orlando editor about my newsletter, which read:

You are the goddess of newsletters. Not only is there nothing to correct, it is — with absolute sincerity — a work of art. (I think I’ll save it for inspiration so I can re-read it on those days when things just aren’t flowing…).

This is about the time, during the aftermath of the Tetris game, during which I stare at the screen and try to figure out why I was so certain I was “losing” in my quest. As I take on a new perspective of the world — as I’ve been doing over the past week — it feels good to put the pieces together in a way that forces me to come to realizations about myself and be honest about how my reality is, well, not real. I think I’m ready to learn to play Tetris without doubting myself so much; I think I’m ready for every day to be The Day I Do a Good Job Without Doubt. And now, enter much panic over the prospect of not panicking…

* not that I have anything against Omaha
** this is a slightly hyperbolic statement


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