I lost readers—at least three—after disclosing that this place has been compromised.
To write. To opine. To emote.
Maybe they decided I’m a fraud and jumped ship.
Maybe they’re people in my ex’s and I’s personal lives that no longer felt comfortable playing voyeur now that she’s in the loop.
Maybe they were among the many new followers picked up when a post I wrote about Clean Copy was widely circulated by WordPress, and they quickly discovered my personal stories weren’t their particular cup of tea.
Maybe I offended them with all of my bad language in the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde post.
Or maybe they think I’ll stop being honest now since my ex might be reading. Maybe they think I already have. Maybe they think I never was.
I don’t take it well.
While I was never the most-popular kid in school, I was also never the kid getting picked on, or the last to be picked in a playground football game.
I’ve always fared reasonably well socially.
I always had predominantly good luck getting jobs. I interview well because I’m nice and I think interviewers can tell I care and have genuine passion.
But then I was laid off. Living on The Unemployment Line for a year and a half before finally finding the job I have now.
My editors at the paper assured me it was a financial decision. I had to be the one because I had the least seniority on the editorial staff. That it had nothing to do with my value.
But, you know what?
That can’t be true.
If I had been an all-star-caliber employee? A magnificent reporter and writer? There’s no way in hell they send me packing.
I failed to make myself indispensible.
So, when the economic crunch happened and employers had to make tough choices, I was tossed on the other side of the line upon further evaluation. With the group of people they could manage without.
I’ve had plenty of girls not want to go out with me. But I never had my heart broke by one until my marriage failed.
There was so much at stake. Nine years. A child. Family ties. Mutual friends.
And in the final analysis, I was deemed the worse option. Divorce was the lesser of two evils.
I am so much more sensitive to rejection now than I used to be.
Girls that might not have even been real people not writing me back on online-dating sites felt like needles.
Friends withdrawing post-divorce has felt even worse.
Somewhere in the middle are people who once decided: Yeah, I want to read more from this guy. Only to read more and decide it was a nuisance. Bullshit. A waste of their time.
I can only think of that great scene in Gladiator where Maximus violently ruins a few dudes in the gladiator arena to the horror and astonishment of a crowd that was blood-thirsty just moments before. He screams at them: “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? IS THIS NOT WHY YOU ARE HERE?”
Get a grip, Matt.
You have to own your shit.
Or, in mature-speak, you must accept responsibility for your actions. In each and every situation in which you find yourself.
Life cannot be a series of unfortunate events happening to you. You’ll be a victim you’re entire life if that’s how you think about things.
Life must be a series of choices you make to control the action. To dictate the outcomes you want. With courage. And faith. And fortitude.
You know why girls on Match didn’t write me back? Because I wrote them suck-ass emails. Because I haven’t made my body something they want to touch. Because I don’t represent the type of successful and confident and bold and brave and strong person they find attractive. Maybe even because I have a son. And that beautiful little man is a choice I’ll make over and over and over again at the expense of my dating life forever.
Own your shit.
You know why I lost my job?
Because I didn’t make myself indispensible. I didn’t work harder than every other person. I didn’t write the most stories. Or the best. I wasn’t the best journalist in the newsroom. All the best ones got to keep their jobs. There’s a lesson here about how it’s in our best interest to give our jobs—if we value them—the very best we have each and every day. To take nothing for granted. Because it’s on us to be the best we can be. No one is responsible for us having jobs. Or money. Or job satisfaction. Or long-term career success. We’re responsible. Make the choice every day to be great.
Own your shit.
You know why I lost my wife?
Because I was a shitty husband. I’m not going to rehash it. We all fall short. We all mess up. We all do things to hurt others. We all sin.
But is there any doubt that I could be blissfully married with an amazing job and my happy wife and child—or possibly more children—if I’d chose every single day to be great? To love unselfishly? To be kind even when it was inconvenient?
I don’t get to be married anymore in large part because of me.
Our lives are the sum of our choices.
Don’t point fingers.
Look in the mirror.
And be strong.
And love yourself.
And forgive yourself.
And commit to giving your all today in every endeavor that truly matters to you.
Be indispensible in life and love.
Do it for the people who write your paychecks.
Do it for your partners.
Do it for your children.
But mostly, do it for yourself.
The world doesn’t owe me a thing. Nothing. But I owe the world.
I’m sad I lost those followers. Those readers. But they don’t owe me.
I owe them.