It’s a typical day, my finger skating over the smartphone screen in a deft and rhythmic scroll. I pause every now and then, tapping that infamous heart, a cyber head-nod of appreciation.
I see them. Who is them? Them, like the elusive “they,” is generic. You never know exactly who “they” are, so much as what “they” represent. Same difference, here. In this case, “them” is accomplished, successful, doing-the-damn-thang, killing the game, slaying, living the dream, decorating their best life with YAAAAAASSSSS-tinsel…
Everything I’m yearning and striving to be. Everything I’m not.
And right on cue, in the off-Broadway rendition of “Worst Timing Ever,” that bitch named Anxiety slides onto stage-right-on-time-ho.
Then, at the speed of a fiery stage light, the dialogue begins:
~~ * ~~
Anxiety: Well, shut the front door wide open, it looks like you need yet another reminder of why you’re not good enough. Shit, not even good. You ain’t enough!
Anxiety: Look at them! They’re on all the lists! Canoodling with all the celebrities! Have all the fans! Getting all the likes! Building all the followers! Gaining all the VIP access! Colored with all the blue checks! Shaded with all the GREEN checks! And you, sir?
Me: I ain’t no s --
Anxiety: -- Looks like you’ve “procrast’d” one too many “nations,” sis! And even when you do put in the work and put yourself out there, your reach is dust. DUST, I say! And what do you have to show for it?? A pile of demolished pints of ice cream?! Pshaw! PEE-shaw!!
Me: *crawls into self-hatred abyss*
~~ * ~~
This inner-convo curls its slimy fingers around my neck and lifts me up into a Noob Saibot-level chokehold. Oxygen becomes an unreachable luxury. I fall deeper and deeper into the worrisome wormhole. Every so often, I recite my mantra, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Sometimes, I believe it. Other times, it fades into a mist like a mirage. Anxiety is louder, bolder, and more persistent.
Anxiety: You’ll never be them.
Me (shaky): I don’t…want to be them. I’m me. There’s only one me.
“You ain’t worth shit,” I tell myself. Or is it Anxiety? Who knows, they have the same damn husky voice.
All I know is, it’s a forever fight to stop listening.
Tonja Renée Stidhum is a screenwriter/director with cheeks you want to pinch...but don't (unless she wants you to). She is made of sugar and spice and everything rice...with the uncanny ability to make a Disney/Pixar reference in the same sentence as a double entendre. She is the co-host of the Cinema Bun Podcast and creator of the series, Wing Chick.