So, I have this sort of dirty confession to make.
But the trick is, it's really only to myself. I grew up with a lot of pressure to excel, had a very typical preppie/jewish/success-oriented sort of childhood. I was a smart kid, and my mom and dad were both proud of that, but also rather unrelenting about it. If I brought home a B, that was fine, but how about an A? And if I brought home an A, how about an A+? And if I brought home an A+, well, that's living up to my potential.
That sort of thing. My dad, who was a pretty bad guy, was also a very wealthy, self-made sort for many years. There was this unspoken thing between him and me - that it was my job to improve on what he had done, to seek and go beyond his level.
He's long since left the planet, and as my partner Maya likes to say, I'm my own "grown-ass mandog" now. But there's stuff written down in my BIOS or whatever, that remains.
I tend to push myself. I always have a lot going on. I'm ambitious. And frequently, I am the very worst critic of my own efforts. It's a weird mix, because at the same time I can have almost rocket-powered levels of self-esteem to the point of arrogance. I know when I'm good at something, because I'm used to advocating for myself. It's exhausting.
But I'm lucky. I surround myself with people who love me, and who go out of their way to tell me I mean a lot to them, or that my efforts or character are worthwhile. My wife Missy, my girlfriend Alissa, my girlfriend Maya, my brother Spacey, my sister Pene, all regularly shower me with love and affection and validation.
But this post, it's not about them. (Except to tell them that I love them.)
It's about a friend of mine, Dixie.
We've been friends for years. She's an age player like me. She's witty, silly, and smart. We're book friends, and nerd friends, and just like one another enormously.
I think the world of her. And recently, she wasn't feeling so hot, and asked folks to post why they liked her. So I told her.
"You're insightful and thinky in general and about fiction in particular. You have strong, passionate opinions, because you're a person of deeply held convictions. I love that.
Also, you're really cute."
(This is true, she's adorable.)
She wrote this thing back to me, that just utterly took my breath away.
"You have one of the biggest hearts I've ever known, and you are constantly looking to better yourself and become even more self aware, which is amazing"
I'm honestly a little teary over it, in the best way. Thank you, Dixie.
I can feel myself loosening that white-knuckle grip I keep around myself so often. I feel a little more worthy of my own love today.