During a random scroll on Instagram during a particularly stressful week, I stumbled on this photo posted by the Girl Boss account (source unknown):

Don't Give People Your Hotdog

While I’m sure this was meant to be a funny quip about not dealing with people’s BS, for some reason it really hit me hard.

Why the crap am I giving people who are rude to me my hotdog?

Stick with me for a second…

How often do we give so much of ourselves to people who don’t deserve it, whether it’s our love, our attention, our brain space, our time, our affections… to people who in turn do not value us and our talents and our pursuit of what light us up. Who are so worried about their own projected worth and success and busyness they have little authentic gratitude for people who support them.

And then, how often do we find ourselves saying:

“Well, my work/activity/practice/sport/creative endeavor just isn’t as good as hers, so…”

“Oh, I just don’t think I’ll ever be at his level.”

“They’re already doing _the thing that fires me up_ so maybe there’s just not room for the two of us.”

Or,

“They’re successful and saying all-the-things I should be doing… so I should be doing all-the-things, or I’ll never be successful.”

How often do we hear ourselves – the voice we project on the internet, the tone we project through conversations, the booming, nagging chatter in our heads – and think, “Who IS that?“… because it just doesn’t sound like us, but rather, the “us” we “should be” because some “expert” said that’s how we need to sound.

And how often do we talk ourselves down or apologize for our successes. How often do we let others steal our joys and sense of accomplishment with a snide comment or lackluster enthusiasm for our victories. How often do we shove our feelings of happiness and contentment down into our butts and choose to actively be negative instead?

How often do we feel like we need more. To be more. To make others believe we can do more – even when we’re already burned the hell out.

Listen, I know Misery loves company. But Misery is also a sniveling little twerp who makes life empty and small, and it’s AMAZING how society would rather we be upset about our jobs, our careers, our relationships, our physiques, our talents, and our homes. Like, we don’t know we have a problem until someone points out theirs, making us think we need to reflect on our own.

mean girls bad breath cool mom

It’s ironic (don’tcha think) that my “Word of the Year” was/is Joy. I’ve had to fight a little harder than I thought to hold on to that; and I’m ashamed to admit how much I told myself how stupid it was to choose it. Like it should’ve been “Boldness” or “Drive” or “Hustle” or “Fearlessness” or “Tiger-Blood” — because how could a sweet, Pixar-cute character of a word Joy be powerful enough to guide me?

Early October marked our 1-Year Anniversary here on the island; we joke our “10 Year Goal” to move to the island and pursue the the lives we wanted to lead came 7 years early… but it truly is a big, tangible thing for us. Funny enough, we discovered when we reached that big dream, that’s when the actual work started. And I was NOT prepared for the lessons I’ve learned this past year taking my photography business full time, in a new community, while also maintaining the commitments in my previous market. All the while pretending I had my ‘ish together, because I didn’t want to let anyone down.

stressed out i'm fine

Admittedly, I let a LOT of people get to me this past year.

I’ve lamented over some harsh things and personal jabs people have said about my work. I’ve let people walk all over me because I thought they had my best interests in mind. I’ve had people ask “So, what’s your back-up plan?” or who give me the half-hearted, “Well, good luck” with the slow eye-roll when I talk about my next steps. I’ve had people flat out say, “Well, it must be nice John can support you so you can do ‘creative’ things” — and I have to bite my tongue when I want to unleash the tirade of how I contribute to this family and this is my JOB and the ‘creative’ component of my day is 10% on a good day.  I’ve had people who ask for and expect the MOON but refuse to offer any appreciation or compensation for my work. I’ve had people — grown-a$$, accomplished colleagues and ‘friends’ — who ask for my support and help, but when I need it… somehow are unavailable and oh-so busy. Or, worse, they make it actively clear how little it means to them.

And I still gave these fools my hotdog. Every time.

I had every right to refuse service, refuse energy, refuse the superfluous work, refuse enthusiasm and support… but I still let them have it, quietly hoping they’d see that I loving made and dressed that damn dog and steamed that soft bun… that they’d discover sharing our stories over those dogs would make the world a better place. That my day at the cool table would come.

Friends, I’m here to tell you:

You don’t have to give them your hotdog.

In fact, you guard that perfect, special hotdog with your life; and you save it for the people who deserve it. You truly only have so many hotdogs to give.  Chasing glory and perfection and attention from deified, negative, heart-in-the-wrong place people or groups will only make you run out that much faster.  The people who ARE there and DO love you and WANT to see you happy (I think the whippersnappers are calling it a “tribe” these days), the ones that would happily accept that slightly-burnt-on-a-falling apart bun hotdog because they value so much that you would share — those are the ones you need to save your hotdog for. And one for yourself.  That table will be so full of magic and you’ll happily accept anyone who’s on their journey to their best and brightest self; and then, the table will grow bigger and more vibrant and hilarious and enlightening and joyful. And it will feel so, so good when you can celebrate each other’s hard work and success, even if you did get a little mustard on your shirt.

To those of you continue to ride the wave of weird and excitement with me, who in turn allow me into your journey, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. To those of you who gave me the space to speak a million miles an hour about my ideas, who push me to go big and dream big; to the people who gave me their hotdog when I least deserved it; to the fabulous, amazing, brilliant friends and family who aren’t afraid of being different, imperfect, and a little vulnerable, and STILL manage to pull off spectacular things; to the people who are so wonderfully kind and grounded in what matters…. the world is a special of a place because of you, and I hope you know that. And I hope you know who you are.

Hugs & High Fives,

C

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