Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Someone Has to Set a Bad Example

I’m pretty tired of feeling bad about myself. So, in the spirit of empowerment, it’s long past time to do something about it. Which means I’m giving up Facebook and my latest failed diet (not necessarily in that order). I often mentally lament that I didn’t live during the Renaissance, when “plump” was pleasing (as evidenced in all of those magnificent paintings of fat-bottomed girls making the rockin’ world go ’round) and Facebook didn’t exist, but then I come to my senses when I remember that women probably didn’t live past 30 years old. Socially, I like to think I’m ahead of my time; physically, I’m a few centuries behind my time, at least when it comes to societal standards of beauty. But I digress.

While I’m airing grievances and handing out blame for my inferiority complex, I’d also like to assign some blame to the Founding Fathers and their magnum opus, the Declaration of Independence. For a long time, I confused the “all men are created equal” business with the misguided idea that we all have equal things to offer to the world. With age and wisdom, I’ve seen the errors in my thinking (but still am blaming the Fathers for their ambiguity). While I now know that it meant we are all equal in the eyes of our varying deities, in our value as human beings, and in the eyes of the law, talent and natural ability are other matters altogether, and I definitely got the short end of the stick in these departments. 

I was recently complaining to a ridiculously crafty friend (who is also an amazing cook and one of the truly good people in the world) that I feel really ripped off that so many people get actual and useful talents, while all I got was an abundance of sarcasm and a painfully sharp sense of humor. If only I were musically or athletically inclined, I suspect I’d probably be happier, and likely less in need of the aforementioned diet. Created equal, my ass… Which brings me back to Facebook. If ever anyone needs a daily reminder of all the ways they lag their peers or fail to measure up, look no further than Facebook. For this, I, of course, blame Mark Zuckerberg who, in the process of being a visionary and making himself a gazillionaire, essentially made the vast world a smaller and more interwoven place, and yet also, nearly singlehandedly, enhanced the inferiority complexes of more than a billion people and counting. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, right?

I’d like to put out a disclaimer and say that I mean no disrespect to all the people whom I genuinely like, but I just can’t be happy for all of you and your various accomplishments any more. It’s exhausting, and even more so when I’m calorically deprived. So, for all of the Facebookers with amazing abilities, talents, child-rearing skills, genius offspring, culinary prowess, craftiness, ways with animals, incredible fitness and health, phenomenal careers, etc, you are oftentimes inspiring, yet you also serve as that constant reminder that while we may have been created equal, we certainly don’t get blessed with equal ability. My meals won’t be featured in a Bon App├ętit spread any time soon (though last night’s Fried ’Nana & Nutella Sandwiches were pretty spectacular). My house isn’t particularly clean, and I rarely know whether the cat is indoors or out. My idea of trendy was captured beautifully in Macklemore’s Thrift Shop video, and I have more socks missing their mates than with mates. My kids aren’t award-winning athletes who started training for the Olympics in utero, nor are they STEM geniuses who brought wifi to Third World countries using only a paper clip, rain water and a watch battery — which is, surely, all my fault because I’m not that gung-ho, home-schooling mom who was simultaneously teaching her children their first words in both English and Mandarin. Pig Latin, maybe, but definitely not Mandarin. 

So, it is with a heavy heart that I announce the only thing I seem to excel at — besides sarcasm, inappropriate comments, and taking naps — is NOT excelling. I excel at being entirely average and, as I’ve said before, being a good bad example (click here for just a few examples of how well I set the bad example). In the constant attempt to find the silver lining of my mediocrity, here it is…I lower the bar for everyone else. After all, we can’t all be spectacular, because then no one would be spectacular. I don’t do it on purpose, and I don’t do it for the gratitude, but someone has to set the bad example, and that someone, apparently, is me. You don’t have to thank me, but you’re welcome. I do it so you don’t have to.