A little bit extra, inspired by your encouraging replies
Well, what a lovely load of responses I had to last week’s newsletter. Thanks to everyone who got in touch to say “keep going”, “you’re doing just fine” and “stop fretting about nothing, dafto, you’ve done plenty”. Oh, and one friend offered to beat me with my own manuscript. So that’s nice.
So, for the benefit of anyone out there who’s experiencing their own bout of end-of-year fear, I want to return briefly this week to the subject of compiling a What I Have Done in 2021 list. Although I revealed my final list, I didn’t say too much about how I came up with it. It was a bit of a struggle at first but I want to share the secret with you. You simply need to harness the power of your inner critic. I know, right?
Your inner critic is the voice that tells you that you’re not good enough. Sometimes it’s just small, insidious putdowns; sometimes they deliver an almighty kicking. Sometimes your inner critic pretends to be your friend, protecting you from the derision of others. (“Don’t try, you’ll fail and everyone will mock you. Just keep your head down, mate.”)
But here’s a funny old thing. It seems that, just like Janis in Mean Girls, your inner critic thinks it’s only OK when they say it. If you imagine someone else giving you a hard time, you can reverse your inner critic’s polarity and use their powers for good.
So here is my five-step guide to writing an own-trumpet-blowing list of achievements.
Imagine your worst enemy asking you: “So what have you actually done this year?” Perhaps with a mocking eyebrow raised.
Feel the fear - and then the indignation at having your life choices questioned by that utter dick.
Quickly, while you’re still pissed off, write down everything you’ve done this year.
Now soup everything up a bit in a way that is designed to make your worst enemy feel rather foolish and small - really put them back in their box. (Don’t worry, your inner critic has totally got this.)
Put the list aside for a while and have a cup of tea and biscuit while you calm down. Then read the list and rewrite anything that makes you sound like a terrible human being. Hopefully, what you’ll be left with is a set of true things about yourself, expressed with confidence.
I can’t guarantee that this will work for everyone but it did the trick for me. We’re all taught that pride and boastfulness are an ugly characteristics and that it’s good manners to play down our achievements. But these lists of achievements aren’t necessarily meant to be shared (yes, yes, I know, I literally put mine in an email and sent it to you), they are there to remind ourselves of what needs celebrating and why we should feel good about ourselves. There’s a time for being humble. This isn’t it.
Main image by Önder Örtel via Unsplash
I have learned how to include polls in these missives, courtesy of fellow newsletter writer David Tvrdon. (BTW, if you have even a passing interest in tech, media and audio, you should definitely subscribe to For What It’s Worth. This week’s edition about Amazon’s cute/terrifying robot pal is fascinating and funny.)
So, I’m thinking of including polls in Terrible Mistake. They would almost never be about anything serious. Here’s a trial run.
Do you like polls?
Something of a dilemma for the poll-haters, eh? Expressing your opinion means you’ve still participated. It’s a trap!
Stationery corner on tour
Today’s stationery corner is guest edited by Rachel, from whose desk I am writing this week’s edition. All hail the goth fountain pen!
It is a thing of beauty. Other items that I may allow to “fall into my bag” include a matching notebook and ‘Boss Lady’ cowgirl pencil case. This week's stationery corner also comes with hilarious outtakes, featuring Wicket the cat. Sadly, he won’t fit in my bag.
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