Each year, I dub the upcoming year with a title to set a theme for betterment. It’s not a New Years Resolution, like going to the gym more or being nicer to your sister. It’s a mental note to act on what I learned from the previous year.
Naming each year is a tradition born of drunken New Years Eves past with my friends Eglys and Kim. (See here.) Last year, 2013, was ”The Year Of The Crossroads.”
In 2013, I moved from New York to Los Angeles. I broke up with someone I loved because I wanted to end a bad pattern. I started all sorts of new projects and I get to work with amazing people at networks and comic book companies and I’m so honored.
This year, 2014, this is “The Year of Enthusiasm.” I don’t mean that as participants in my little “year theory” that you have to be enthusiastic or maintain some fake level of happiness by letting birds dress you in the morning as you hum high-pitched love songs.
The Year of Enthusiasm is about valuing yourself. It’s about knowing where you stand and what you are worth and never letting anyone else make you feel like you are less than. It’s about having strong opinions and not being afraid to speak them, defend them, and be able to hold confidence even with people disagreeing. Here are my two main promises for 2014. Take or leave as many as apply to you:
1. I will not go anywhere I am not enthusiastically wanted.
This means no staying at parties where I am not having a good time. If I take a look around and honestly think I’d be having a better time in bed watching 30 Rock and eating cheese, I jet immediately. No more forcing conversations with bored people looking around for someone else “more important” to talk to. No more feeling anxiety about that like I did something wrong.
There’s no one you “NEED” to be friends with. It’s a two-way street. Expunge the toxic friendships and work on the healthy ones where both parties are THRILLED to know each other. Those are the fun people.
Along those lines, I will not work with companies or people who are not super into the project I want to do or super psyched to be working together. Don’t try to impress people who will never be impressed. It’s a waste of time, talent, and resources. Especially now when there are so many ways to make things happen on your own and so many avenues to creativity. The traditional paths are great but if it’s not for you, then that’s okay. There’s no RIGHT way to be happy, so why not work with people I adore and who respect me?
If I don’t feel a great connection with a company or person, I don’t HAVE to work with them just because they have “power.” (Not to say that I can’t compromise or listen to edits/suggestions or that I need to surround myself with kiss-asses.) Be supremely confident in your abilities and decisive in your work so that “authority figures” don’t cloud the creative path with doubts. (And other new age mumbo-jumbo. All hail the goddess Lucy Liu.)
2. I will not date, sleep with, or entertain the idea of anyone who is not enthusiastic about me or about whom I am not enthusiastic.
No chasing emotionally (or otherwise) unavailable people. No spending hours wondering why someone isn’t texting me back.
They don’t text back? They’re done.
They don’t make plans with me? They’re done.
They don’t make clear that they like me a whole lot and are super jazzed to be dating, sleeping with, or seeing me? They’re done.
I will waste no time this year trying to convince someone to love me.
There is no one that I need to be with so badly that I spend most of my time crying or fighting with them. I don’t need to be with someone. I don’t need to force a relationship that isn’t working because of some misguided idea of soul mates. It’s not romantic, it’s miserable.
No more games. No being silent or changing anything about myself to please someone else. No worrying about what I wrote back. No forcing plans. No more playing it cool, and no more people who play it cool. You like me? Ask me on a date. Tell me you like me. Text me that you’re thinking about me. No negging. No feeling badly when someone doesn’t like me back. No waiting three days. And NO CHASING.
ENTHUSIASM. GET INTO IT.
Feel good, 2014.
It’s because of Internet comments.
When Gawker first posted links to individual stories, mocking writers for Thought Catalog, I felt confused. How does it benefit them to make fun of TC? Do the two sites’ audiences even converge that much? What do they have to do with each other? The post was followed by a bunch of comment-ers taking intense pleasure in destroying, line-by-line, the work of, in particular, Thought Catalog editor Ryan O’Connell.
The only thing I could think, over and over, while reading the stream of mean comments was ‘I don’t know any of these people’s names or what they contribute to the world, but I know Ryan O’Connell’s name.’
I don’t know their names, but I know his name. I’ve said this before: I’d rather be the person being talked about than be someone doing the talking.
And all of them are just a flock of people taking delight in semi-anonymously, on a website they neither edit nor contribute to, talking shit about one person who put himself out there by name.
The whole idea is driving me crazy. What motivates them?
This isn’t about Ryan though. Or Brandon Gorrell, who received similar treatment in a later post.
It’s bullying and I don’t understand - can’t understand - why we do this to each other as humans and creators. But there’s more!
So now I can’t hate anything. I am kind of free.
A few days after the post, I saw my friend Brent at a bar. Brent is a comic who just started making a Youtube web series. We talked about his entrance into the world of online feedback. His videos are comedy, but from some of the comments on them, you would think Brent had gone to these people’s homes in the night and murdered their pets. The rage is incongruous with the creation it’s directed at.
I told Brent: “I can’t hate anything anymore. I love everything I see and everything I read, because I can’t think about it as a thing on its own anymore. I only think about that person who wrote it/created it and how their mother loves them and how hard they worked on it and how they just want to live their life and I just…Right now, I look at something online and I believe everyone is doing the best they can.”
For example, at Gawker, there sits a college graduate with their first job out of liberal arts school who just wants to get paid to write. They want respect and they want power and they want fame in the blogging world and they want to feel invulnerable. They write about Thought Catalog because they think it will bring in hits. It brings Gawker hits, it brings Thought Catalog hits with a link back. This, I have little problem with. This insular collaboration seems obvious, right?
One website writes about another website thus validating another website. I get it.
But the comment-ers. They think this fairytale is real! They think by using their little anonymous comment that they are in on the joke! That they’re part of either site. That they’re not being used by people on both sites.
Everyone hates this article a girl, Marie Calloway, wrote about having sex. Fine.
Then, what I don’t understand is that EVERYONE talks about this article they hated about a girl having sex.
And in the end, whether I want to or not, I don’t know your name.
But I know her name.