Last night, I had the privilege of attending what was likely the last stage performance of the incomparable Meaghan Smith for quite some time. Phenomenal person. If you don’t have her stuff on your iPod, do yourself a favor and get it now. You won’t be disappointed.
During intermission, my wife and I happened to run into some friends out in the lobby. She, a successful, award-winning author; he, a successful, award-winning singer/songwriter. We chatted for a bit about her current work and about his upcoming tour, and they asked how I was doing.
“Uh, good! Busy, yep,” was what I managed to say.
The wonderful badge of the modern-day schmuck that proclaims “Yes, I am like everyone else. So much, in fact, that the most exciting thing I can think of is that I’ve managed to keep myself busy all year.”
I hated myself at that moment, for saying it; we ended the chat a few minutes later and went our separate ways to catch the second half of the performance.
I rolled that word around my head during the remainder of the performance.
I was still thinking about it this morning when I woke. Really? Busy? That was the best I could do?
In fact, it wasn’t because I didn’t have anything to say.
The real issue? I feel a lot of competence shame when in the presence of highly successful people.
‘Cause, y’know, I have an office job. I take my kids to McDonald’s. I shop at Wal-Mart (reluctantly, mind you, and only when absolutely necessary) and the last award I won was probably my Grade 8 first-place win in the Regional Science Fair in the Environmental Science category. I don’t think I ever cashed the $25 cheque they gave me, come to think of it.
But what I really wanted to say was “Yeah! I have a ton of interesting stuff going on!”
I just closed off four freelance book editing projects in the last year – the most ever for me. And dang it, they were some of the best (and most successful, sales-wise) that I’ve done to date.
I built a wood-burning stove entirely from metal scrap, by hand, which now sits proudly in the small shed out back providing warmth to me during the winter months as I enjoy the occasional cigar during “me”-time.
I just shot and edited a video review of protein bars – bars made from crickets. And yup, they were hella tasty!
I’m reverse-engineering a recipe for chocolate tequila and I’m tinkering with flavor infusing my own cigars with the essences of vanilla and rum.
I’m renovating my basement by my own hand – framing, drywalling, door hanging, painting and trim and finish work. Nothing I haven’t done before, mind you, but you always learn something more about the finer details of those skills each time you exercise them.
But something held me back from saying those things. I think it’s one of those invisible scripts you tell yourself your whole life: “I’m not that interesting, really. Just an uncool geek.” Those invisible scripts that follow you from childhood into adulthood, that tell you everyone else is So Much More Interesting Than You. Because you’re just average, and what you think is awesome and neat, to the rest of the world, is Eye-Rollingly Uncontestedly Uncool.
Someday I might get over those scripts. Someday, I’ll feel proud of what I do and I’ll tell all of the above – and more! – to anyone who asks “So, how are you?”
Someday, when I’m not so…

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