A few days ago I received a long, tortured e-mail from a dear friend. She is in turmoil–emotionally, spiritually, artistically.
She wrote on and on, detailing all her failings and faults, bemoaning the fact that she was such a terrible friend, a failed professional, a dilettante in her art because she sets it aside the second someone else needs her.
The whole time I was reading this, I alternated between wanting to hug her and wanting to shake her.
Because the whole time I was reading this, I was thinking, “This is ME!!”
I could have written this letter.
This, I realized, is what I sound like to the people who know me and care about me.
This friend is smart, articulate, an excellent writer and a talented artist.
She has helped me with advice and suggestions, recommendations and opportunities, feedback and tough love.
She’s done the best listening to me regarding my art I’ve ever had. Her sense of where I’m floundering is dead-on, though sometimes painful in its honesty and perception.
And she’s apologizing for not “being there for me” as a good friend should?? Ohmigod.
When someone else drops a professional ball, she’s right there trying to pick it up and set it back in place again. There are agencies and causes she feels passionately about, and she’s given them huge amounts of personal time and energy to keep them going.
She does all this, but at the expense of her own art, and her own personal life, and her own professional goals.
Time to shake things up.
“Cut it out!” I told her. “Time to make time for Y*O*U!”
It’s time to read her the riot act. It’s time for her to make hard choices, about the things she has to take care of vs. the things she “should” take care of.
It’s time for her to stop apologizing for how “awful” she is, and celebrate how fabulous she is. And to accept how wonderfully, imperfectly, incredibly human she is.
Just like me. Just like you.
Which really made me laugh, because a mentor/friend had given me exactly the same pep talk (aka kick in the pants) a few months ago…..
Sometimes, the best way to see how you get in your own way, is to watch someone you love and respect do exactly the same thing.
Sometimes, the best way to hear the advice being given to you, is to give it to someone else.
Sometimes, the best way to learn, is to teach. And the best way to teach, is to learn.