on the problem of wanting

For weeks I’ve wanted to write about all that’s happened in my life in 2015, but I couldn’t find a good way to get at it. I keep thinking back to a rainy Sunday night, about a year ago, when I met two friends for dinner. One was pregnant and doing interesting research for her PhD in linguistics. She and her husband were thinking about buying a condo or moving to a new, baby-friendly apartment. The other, a psychologist, I hadn’t seen since August, when she was in the midst of a messy break up with a not-at-all-nice guy. But by March she was living happily with her new boyfriend—a man who seemed unbelievably successful and kind and good for her. A man she met the day after her break up. She told us about helping to raise his two kids, and her summer plans to attend conferences and visit family.

As they talked, I sipped wine and asked questions and then, when it was my turn, I realized I had nothing to say. “Um,” I tried, “I’ve been on two dates with a guy who seems kind of smart and fun, but we still haven’t scheduled a third.” I searched my life for something: work was the usual mound of ungraded papers and, yes, I was still tooling away at the same book I’d been tooling away at for years. No real travel plans, no visitors. No weekend getaways.

I woke up grouchy the next day, but I couldn’t pinpoint why. After ending a serious relationship a few years before, I’d worked hard to make my life exactly what I wanted it to be. I liked my job, and writing, and walking around the neighborhood with Roscoe. I had time for skiing and climbing and eating Thai take-out with my best friends.

But when I had to describe that life to someone I hadn’t seen in a while, the straightforward sameness of my days suddenly felt embarrassing. My close friends were getting married and making babies. I was about to turn 33—my Jesus year!—and, while I was in no rush to procreate, I wanted something to say when people asked how I was, some small miracle. I understood that the upheaval in my friends’ lives was sometimes hard, but, at the time, even having something to struggle with seemed enviable and kind of glamorous.

how I spend much of my time

how I spend much of my time

Now, on the verge of my 34th birthday, I still spend my days the same way I did a year ago. I go to the climbing gym and I grade papers and I eat Thai food from the same restaurant down the block with my same best friends. I walk the dog. And I write. I write whenever I can.

But in some significant ways, my life feels different. When friends ask me what’s going on, I tell them about a talk I’m giving in California next month. Or I explain what my agent said about the chapter outline I wrote. I tell them how my boyfriend volunteered to get up and walk the dog in the rain because I’m getting a cold and it’s almost my birthday. They listen with enthusiasm, because of course they aren’t the types to feel grouchy about someone else’s good fortune.

The short version of the story is this: I wrote an article for the New York Times and it got something like eight million views in a month. I received emails from strangers and editors and tv producers and literary agents. I went on the radio and television, and I turned down other requests out of exhaustion. I woke up one day to find my name in The New Yorker. And another day I sat down to breakfast to find an email from Jonathan Franzen’s agent. I woke up before my alarm every morning and lay in bed and wished I could stop thinking about what would be waiting in my inbox. None of it made sense to me. I was flattered and freaked out and I got very sick almost immediately.

The longer version of the story is that out of all those emails, only a few were weird or demanding. Most were very, very kind. One was straight up crazy. And one was genuinely critical. When I wrote back to that person—the critical one—agreeing that her criticism was fair, she replied with an apology, saying how much she liked the rest of my article and how she must’ve been in a bad mood when she sent the earlier message. These are atypical internet experiences, I know.

People regularly said to me: “Just enjoy the ride!” This was good advice that I found impossible to follow.

The longer version of the story is that I spent a lot of time deep in worry. I lost days and weeks to worry and I don’t remember much about the details. I have to look at my calendar to see exactly what I did and whom I spoke to.

Everywhere I went people asked about the article and I worried about how this would impact my relationship. I worried my boyfriend was tired of hearing about it. Or that he’d feel overexposed by all the attention. Or, conversely, that he’d be hurt by my desire to keep the details of our relationship out of the media. I worried he’d think I was becoming self-absorbed—or overly consumed with worry. (For the record, I was both. And he was great.)

I worried that my friends would be annoyed that I was suddenly so busy and tired. I worried that they would say things like, “Now that Mandy’s famous she doesn’t have time for us.” In fact they did say exactly that, but they said it with love and irony. Still, I tried very hard not to cancel any plans. I failed. When I did cancel plans, my sense of relief was overrun with worry.

I worried that I would pick the wrong agent. And I worried that voicing this worry would expose the fact that I wasn’t appropriately grateful for the attention of agents in the first place. I worried that I was too preoccupied to be a good teacher. I worried that my students would mention the article in class and I’d turn red. I worried about all the Facebook friend requests that suddenly arrived and what people would think of me if I didn’t accept them.

All that worrying did me no good. The real story, the better story, is that I now have things I couldn’t have imagined having six months ago: a supportive and experienced literary agent, a first draft of a book proposal, a fun, generous, hilarious and handsome person to share my life with. I couldn’t imagine these things because somewhere along the way I decided it was dangerous to want too much. Wanting too much was like playing that game where you describe how you’d spend your lottery winnings: it only reminds you of all you will never have. It always seemed wiser to focus on what I did have, to keep my head down, and keep writing.

I still believe it is dangerous to want too much. But I now find myself wanting all kinds of things, things I didn’t even know I was allowed to want. I want people to read my book and love it the way I love the books I’ve been reading lately. I want to find a way to create a thriving literary community here in the city I love. I want to keep teaching but I also want to make a living as a writer. I want to be able to buy a home in the most expensive city in North America. I want to spend more time with the man I love for as long as I can. It is unsettling to put these wants in writing. But there they are.

I need to write these out because it’s the only way to be really honest about my uneasy relationship with success. The problem with success is that it just blows the roof off the wanting. You spend years sitting on the couch, staring into a screen and typing. You are writing a book because you spent a lot of money on graduate school and you want something to put in the alumni newsletter. On good days, you trust that if you keep at it, you’ll eventually have something to say. On bad days, you walk the dog again. Then one day someone notices something you typed. Maybe millions of people notice. And it’s much harder to keep your head down. There are suddenly so many new forms of distraction, so many different versions of who you might become. There is so much to want. And it becomes much easier to forget the basic truth that makes writing (or really any activity that requires a high tolerance for rejection) possible in the first place: the fact that success and talent are not linked in any meaningful way. Talented writers go unread every day. Mediocre writers can, and do, make millions. Occasionally talented writers have big successes, but that’s an exception, not a rule. I believe success relies far more on luck and timing than it does on talent. I have no interest in challenging this belief.

Sometimes life is just a series of days that all look mostly the same. If you are lucky, these days allow you to sometimes do what you love, whether it’s writing or rock climbing or listening to a podcast while you walk the dog. Sometimes you have very good luck and very good timing and all that writing or climbing or podcast listening turns into opportunity. Sometimes it doesn’t, and you wish you had more to show for yourself. Or this is what my 34 years have suggested. I am reluctant to make too much of one thing or the other, of measurable success or hard work. But here I am, almost 34 and feeling full of gratitude, and slowly letting go of the worry.

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173 thoughts on “on the problem of wanting

  1. Hey Mandy, I have just read your latest post on The Problem of Wanting, and for some strange reason (maybe it was something you said in your post) I got the feeling that you might appreciate the humour contained in the next email in my box. Here it is and I hope you do. Congratulations on your recent success, long may it continue, Jim Dollan (?…….. Claire!)

  2. I loved reading this. I’ve been wondering how you’ve been doing with all the success. I’ve heard from a few people that their success was a lot to handle but no one has been able to articulate it as well as you just did. Thanks for sharing — and happy birthday!

    >

  3. I loved your NYT column, I love what you wrote here, and I love that you’re experiencing such wonderful success. May it continue indefinitely 🙂

    • Thanks, Lesley. The cheering on from friends and strangers has totally, totally been the best part of this whole thing. I’m now regretting not acknowledging that more explicitly in my blog. Because it’s really been so kind and so motivating.

  4. I wonder about your thoughts after being publicized at a prestigious paper. And here you go writing about it. Did you really want to be this famous? Don’t worry, in Vancouver, you are safe and much of us will carry on with life and we won’t hold this against you. What I am worried about is whether we are going to lose you to the Big Apple. May you have more birthdays to come with less worry.

    • Hi Seeker: Despite my occasional complaints about Vancouver, I feel very connected to the city, the surrounding geography, and my amazing friends who live here. I don’t think I’ll be packing up any time soon 🙂

  5. I’m glad you shared this, Mandy, as I’ve been thinking about you, wondering how things were unfolding, and how you were juggling it. And yay, it sounds like you’ve arrived at a good place. Your dream of wanting to own a home in Vancouver struck a chord. Vancouver is my home town and I desperately want to come back, but having lived in Seattle for 11 years now, I’d pretty much talked myself out of expecting to be able to get back into the market in Vancouver (and have cursed myself repeatedly for selling my condo there in 2004). It’s funny how we talk ourselves out of “audacious” dreams. And yet, whatever we place our focus on is what expands. So yes, want it, damn it! And want it badly! And a huge congrats on getting to where you’re at.

    • Laura–it’s so interesting to know someone on the other side of the US-Canada divide. Sometimes I imagine moving back to the States, to a city with a stronger literary community and more affordable housing, but then I think about giving up my Canadian health care (along with many other things I love about living here) and the expenses and complications that would come with that and that fantasy ends. I guess there are always trade offs in the choices we make about how to spend our lives! It’s great to hear from you. Let’s grab a drink next time you’re in town!

      • There are definitely trade-offs, and I do miss my Canadian health care! I’m happy that at least these two cities are a reasonably short drive apart. I’m totally up for grabbing a drink! I’ll give you a shout in May.

  6. Yup – “Success”, whatever that might be, has a powerful gravitational field. Can pull a person off course and away from old friends. Can bring you so many new friends that you don’t have time to make friends with any of them, or time to work. These are tricky waters to navigate. Nevertheless I am happy for your happiness and wishing you the very best of luck in dealing with these promising, dangerous new circumstances.

    I often read my wife to sleep. Recent reading included “The Transfiguration of Miss Philura”,* a romance published in 1901. One must make allowances for the literary style of that time, must resist temptation to scoff or to judge harshly the social mores. This book was short popular fiction, unashamedly aimed at a certain demographic – young women with romance much on their minds. A potboiler, one might reluctantly conclude. Yet there were some bits which brought your NYT column to mind – specifically a very well-turned passage regarding that critical activity of looking into the eyes of another person, the power of that experience in the evolution of relationship. And now you have written this piece delving into the business of “wanting”. That dilemma is a core issue in Miss Philura’s transfiguration, treated at length, especially after Miss Philura attends a lecture at the Ontological Society in Boston. I suspect you might enjoy it very much. It has, of course, a happy ending.

    Please continue to share your adventures with us who have been charmed by your words and thoughts. There is nothing better than running into a person who speaks as openly of her life as you have done. It is a pleasure to know you, a pleasure that you are willing to be known.

    New friend, Marty Hykin

    * The Transfiguration of Miss Philura” Author Florence Morse Kingsley, Funk & Wagnalls, New York and London, 80 pages, Publ’d 1902 as one of the “Hour Glass Stories” series . 40 cents each.

    • Hi Marty: Reading one’s partner to sleep sounds very romantic to me. One of the things I love about my partner is that he reads to me–his own writing and others’. There’s something so intimate about reading to someone and being read to. I’ve not heard of The Transfiguration of Miss Philura–I’ll have to check it out!

      Mandy

  7. Mandy, what a heartfelt, humble, and beautiful peek into a unique and yet relatable situation. Seems that your journey and all of it’s success is much deserved, especially because the starting point was full of good intentions, modesty, and kindness. So many people chase the success rabbit and get lost and stuck in the rabbit hole. Kudos to you and best of luck! Ps. I sat next to two women last night, one of who was lamenting a break up she had after she and her (crazy) boyfriend “did the 36 questions” lol. Amazing.

    • Thanks, Oritte! It’s great to be in touch with someone else who’s going through this crazy trying-to-publish-a-book process–and to cheer each other on! My fingers are crossed for you, too!

  8. I can relate so much to this — all of this. Wanting something to show for 34 (or, in my case, 27) years of life, writing with the hopes that one day that right person will read and that the writing will lead to an opportunity that will interrupt the monotony of life, worried that you want too much out of life, and letting go of worry so that you can enjoy life. You write beautifully. I wish you the very best professionally and personally.

  9. P.S. I’m also a Canadian (yay Canada!). I grew up in Toronto and I’m now living in Montreal. In a few weeks I should be moving to Ottawa. Anyways, I got excited when I saw that you teach at UBC. I get excited when I see Canadian writers on New York Times.

  10. How great to read something like this. Should I ever amount to anything slightly remarkable, I hope I would handle it all with the same amount of gratitude and humility as you have shown here. Good for you!

  11. I have read your post for the first time and i am in love with your writing. Your writing style is simple but content is so motivating . The best part is that it is true. True and original.

  12. Completely resonate with your line of thoughts!!! My days are too pretty much the same, one day rolls into another day and then another. One day you get an amazing opportunity and then you get a another, while others days are just boring same old same old. Nice post!!
    Regards,
    Chaitanya

  13. Apparently I live in a media bubble, so this is the first time I’ve heard about any of this! I’m so glad they freshly pressed you though because it is fascinating. Congrats on everything and best for the future!

  14. This is a great post, I’m so glad I found your blog. I have a love/hate relationship with the “what have you been up to?” line of questioning too – either it seems like you have too much going on and you’re bragging or you don’t have enough and you’re being judged. Sometimes it’s in those quietest moments though that I find I’m really the happiest.

  15. You re-invented yourself at 34! A whole new life just beginning. I married at 34 and had my second son at forty. I just started my blog last year and am so happy to have 250 plus followers (a lot for me!). I began volunteering at a local psych hospital and have found a new calling. I turn 53 years old next month and am finding new horizons at every turn. Enjoy the ride and don’t give up that local Thai restaurant now that you are famous :)!!

  16. Your article is inspiring. I feel worried about my future all the time even if my friends cheer me up. I have this pain and your conclusion just makes it more painful. It’s true luck is everything. Maybe I shouldn’t ask too much, because I have my health, my human rights…. But I am a dreamer and a writer and no one can’t take that away even if I have to work at Walmart to survive 😉 I enjoyed reading your article, can’t wait for the next one.

  17. Wow! 👏🏾 I’m extremely happy to have come across your blog. I just turned 32 and while I wish I could relate to the latter part of your story. The beginning resonates with me. I want to feel that it’s alright to want and be worry free. Thanks and many successes to you!

  18. I love the post! I’m 27 and I can definitely feel what you describe in your post. This year is my 10 year high school reunion and I’m most definitely not going! Keep up the great work!

  19. Reblogged this on Tana Daily Telegraph and commented:
    Reading your story, I realized why you’ve suddenly become so famous.You are so passionate about the things you hold dearly in life much as you are considerate of the feelings of those around you. You are just natural. Your disposition has truly opened my eyes on how to balance success, fear, and acquaintances in the middle of professional pressure. Thank you for sharing your experience and challenges in the lead up to your new found status. You’re definitely a celebrity now. Enjoy the moment!

  20. Thank you so much for this. It speaks to me exactly where I am in this season of my life. I’m seeking a literary agent and experiencing all the ups and downs of that process, but haven’t yet arrived at the successful conclusion of landing one. I look to published writers, writers who’ve “arrived,” to provide some guidance. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking that “once I’m published I’ll have succeeded,” but as you point out so clearly, success is a nuanced and problematic thing. Thanks so much for your openness and your perspective, and best wishes for a long and brilliant career!

  21. I have three children and a wonderful husband. I stay home but I dream of being a fantastic writer like you. I get into an anxiety mode and want to run away from this picture perfect life so that I can just write and think for a few hours. My house is a mess and I have to attend to my home. At moments I feel so overwhelmed and trapped, but I know that deep down in my heart, I’m so blessed. The grass seems greener on your side.

  22. Reblogged this on The Seeker and commented:
    And here’s the writer of “To Fall In love with anyone, do this” New York Times Modern Love column written by Mandy Len Cantron. She teaches writing at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

    An excellent read and a recent FP. Enjoy.

  23. Wow, what a way to success you’ve achieved! May God Bless you for you future. Even My article was been publicised in The Leading English Newspaper in India, “The Hitavada”. I loved the way you wrote it, keep it up girl; You Worth it!

  24. My sentiments exactly. I’m currently on the verge of deciding what to do with my life and it’s good to know that somewhere out there, someone knows what it feels like to be currently satisfied with having almost everything one can wish for and still yearn for something more. It’s hard to find the right words, but yeah…. sometimes you just have to write it down to keep the demons at bay.

  25. Such an inspiring and amazing story, so different yet so relatable. Loved reading every bit. Congratulations on you success hope everyone finds their ‘success’ some day. 🙂

  26. Wonderful, good fortune is always great to hear, I am especially happy because it tells me there is hope for the rest of us, and hey when that day reaches I hope you enjoy it just the way you deserve.

  27. BEAUTIFUL!!! This my dear (from a 41 year old mother of 2 who feels 25/35/65 somedays is the beauty of life. It is of hope, of abundance, of nothingness, opportunities, happenstance, it is of all that you have so eloquently described here. Some people live for the days of abundance, while other find their peace in the stillness of their life but no matter I think it call boils down to feeling that sense of gratitude and inner peace with wherever one happens to find themselves at any given moment! Beautifully done!

  28. It’s always great to hear about someone who’s made it to the top of the hill as someone who’s still climbing! Congrats and good luck to you.

  29. Congratulations, all the calm has become the storm. You lived life as simply as it should and success came to you. You understood simplicity, now your life will become difficult. So many times our dreams are answered, and we can’t believe it’s reality. So, we stress so much that we aren’t enjoying, what we actually acquired. Take a deep breath, remember the simplicity, and make heartfelt decisions. Don’t turn back once they are made, stop stressing because you have arrived. Kick your feet up and do what you Love; creating….

  30. 💕💕 I really love your writing and your thoughts I want to read your book now !! Last mont I started my blogg and I was afraid of showing my deep side with everyone !! Please read me and tell me What you think about 😀😀 #goodluck #iwillkeepreadingyou

  31. Love, love, love this! I needed this right this very moment. YES. I also want to have someone enjoy my creative endeavors. I also want to make a living out of these creative endeavors. I also want to make some impression on millions of readers/listeners/viewers through my creative endeavors. Thank you for writing this in black and white. Best wishes!

  32. hey mandy.. I totally get wat you write.. I am 26 and i have serious issues with wanting and not knowing what to do to get that success and recognition which everyone always wants.. I have not managed to let go of my worries though so maybe one day I too shall be able to get where you are and not be worried..

    Love the way you write.. ❤

  33. This was so refreshing. I loved reading it. It is nice to hear that you chased that want until you got it.

  34. Hey! Congratulations. Just reading this article gives a glimpse about your book. You are lucky that your talent got exposure. You are good. Very good. Worries will come and go but your talent will be always with you. Trust it.

  35. Love this post…found myself saying “I know right” a few times while reading it lol…wishing you lots of success, and where can I look for this famous article? What’s the name?? 😳😁

  36. You write so beautifully! So easy to read and relatable. Someone once told me to only worry when someone tells you to worry until then just keep on moving; it always stuck with me. I hope you find a way to enjoy the ride!

  37. It is never too dangerous to want too much. That’s what makes us human. If you never long for something other than what you have (whether it’s love or more money or something to eat), you’re never given the impetus to move forward. And moving forward is where we need to go.

    On another note, I totally relate to being stymied by success. Most people would love to be in the place you are, but they don’t realize how paralyzing it can be because of all the reasons you noted and much, much more.

    Keep your head down and keep moving forward. And now I’m off to read your articles . . . .

  38. I love this Mandy! Rewind a few years and I was having similar conversations with my coupled up friends – I was the one who was going on a string of bad dates with nothing too exciting to tell. But then in the space of a month I quit my job, went travelling and met the love of my life. It’s funny how things work out! You write beautifully and have a knack for story telling. Enjoy your success! xx

  39. Hello Mandy,

    Not knowing a thing about you, reading this post, I find we have a thing or two in common. I came upon your blog by, ‘freshly pressed.’ Happy your life is going in the right direction you have wanted. The worry? I know exactly how you felt. About maybe disclosing to much publicly. I had the same worry about my family, and how they would feel when my current published book released on my 50th birthday, Nov. 2012.

    But it came down to this, it was not ABOUT them, it was about what I went through in my life. It was about how some things that happened in my childhood, sex abuse, the way our parents raised us, and how I went off the charts holding all this garbage in for so long. It lead me down a path of gambling and alcohol addictions, as I tried to stuff and escape my old pain. Now in recovery for over 8 years, and when I wrote my book about 3 years into recovery, I did share and disclose the bad, the ugly, and the really ugly of physical, verbal, and parental abuse. A dark family secret my parents kept for years, that was uncovered when us kids got older. And how all of it affected ME, not my family.

    Of course my family was not very happy with me. But no one was talking to me for over 6 years anyway. My mom had already passed in 2003, and we had made our amends before she passed. That is sadly when our family broke apart. It was a healing and recovery process for me. I guess my point is? Never hold back what your heart tells you to write and share. It is how we can help others who have, or are going through the same issues. No, as you can see, I’m not a professional writer. I’m still learning to be a better writer. I had a great editor for my book, and she made my words and thoughts come alive. I’m still learning this thing I call, “writing.”

    I write from the heart, and about I what I know. So don’t worry about what others may think. Just write from your heart. 🙂 XO

    Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author & Recovery Advocate.

  40. Thank you for writing this, I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I saw a lot of what I’m trying to deal with minus the age, though I do feel like my peers and some younger than me are doing far better with work and finding success, being “cool”. I can only hope that some day soon, I become as well achieved as you! This piece inspired me to write my most recent work, the second post on the new blog. I can’t wait to read more of your work. Thanks again 🙂

  41. Wow.
    It always amazes me that people can make such wonderful changes in their lives.
    Too many of us sit with our unhappiness and disatisfaction with life, it takes courage to make our dreams come closer.
    Good luck, I look forward to seeing you in print.
    Sandy
    Vajrablue.com

  42. Wow – it’s like I read my own journal. Word. For. Word. (Well, minus the boyfriend, haha) We even have the same dog! I mean it’s so similar it freaked me out! At 34 I’ve just started saying to my friends and family that I feel like I live the same day over and over.

    So well said, and I ‘ll no doubt be thinking of this as I worry about wanting to teach and write and what students and parents will say if they discover my writing. Thanks for posting and reminding me I’m not alone in this crazy think called life!

  43. Thanks for sharing your perspective from then to now, it’s very inspiring. Success (the success on a pedestal that we need to let ourselves want at least a little) seems so far for me still and it’s hard not toggle between hoping for the lottery win and feeling like its something that can be rationally pursued with effort. Whether you find new perspectives better than the old or you are simply observing your transition, you must have done what you were supposed to and deserve all you’ve gained!

  44. Sounds like your hard work and dedication to writing has paid off! At the same time, though, I think it’s important for all of us writers to remember that we don’t have to have an agent or a book deal to have the act of writing be worthwhile. Especially now that blogging exists! Not only is blogging incredibly cathartic, but being a part of this community and reading the thoughts and philosophies spilled on each blog post from each corner of the world is truly inspiring.

  45. This is uplifting!
    I’ve been working for whats seems like forever, with days blending together. In a thankless job, with no measurable contribution, gratification comes by rarely. It’s a tough life, but everyday, I try to do more of things that make me happy, share more love, and be more kind. Maybe this way, I’ll have a collection of happier days. I’d take a routine of being happy for now.

  46. Reblogged this on Simone Samuels and commented:
    Mandy Len Catron on life since the famed New York Times article: “To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This.”

    I can relate to so much of this article — all of this really. Wanting something to show for 34 (or, in my case, twenty-something…) years of life, writing with the hopes that one day the right person will read and that the writing will lead to an opportunity that will interrupt the monotony of life, worried that you want too much out of life, and letting go of worry so that you can enjoy life.

    (P.S. She lives in Vancouver. Hooray for Canadian writers!)

  47. Reblogged this on Pearlie and commented:
    It’s not about the wait, it’s about being patient for the best that not yet happen. 🙂 love to have some uplifting words for monday struggles.

  48. It feels like a life road that I am putting myself into, just to tell you that you’re not alone. And I really adore your attitude, success and writing soul. 🙂 Best regards -Pearlie-

  49. What was missing was a PURPOSE to your life. I hope you get one soon and give your every second in accomplishing that purpose. Then, you would no more need alarm clocks or find out things to pass your time. You would think about your purpose every now & then and automatically the zeal would flow in to make you accomplish it.

  50. “The longer version of the story is that I spent a lot of time deep in worry.” I read something like, worry is misdirection of your imagination… take that forceful worry-energy and let it rip as something fresh and exciting. Thanks for sharing.

  51. Beautiful writing! It is easy to be happy when things go our way. For me, true success lies in our ability to love ourselves even when things don’t go our way. Through meditation practices I am hoping to sharpen the skills of self-awareness and equanimity to accept things as they are and not as I want them to be, It helps to know that we live in a constantly changing world where all things, good and bad, come to pass. It is said that what matters is the journey not the destination. I say what matters is the story that comes out from it. Yours is beautiful. Best wishes and Happy Birthday!

  52. Interesting read and beautiful writing. I have not read your NYT article but I can guess why it became so successful. Loved the ending ” Sometimes life is just a series of days that all look mostly the same. If you are lucky, these days allow you to sometimes do what you love, whether it’s writing or rock climbing or listening to a podcast while you walk the dog. Sometimes you have very good luck and very good timing and all that writing or climbing or podcast listening turns into opportunity. Sometimes it doesn’t, and you wish you had more to show for yourself.”

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts , its inspiring 🙂

  53. As I read your post, I thought ‘damn this is going to be a sad read’. But, surprisingly, it has a happy end to the article and I’m smiling.

    Hope all goes well for the future. Keep it up – life is an adventure.

  54. hey Mandy. have you heard of the book “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne? i think you would love it. maybe you have practiced it before even knowing the Secret. 🙂

  55. Awesome! I’ve always wondered what the life of a writer was like because I’m aspiring to become one myself. Your advice is excellent, though. Success and talent are not connected in any way, because so many talented writers are ignored. The important thing is to live without worry and simply try your best at whatever you do.

  56. Reblogged this on Wings I Wrote and commented:
    Totally Worth Reading 😇
    These are my favorite lines from this post –
    “I couldn’t imagine these things because somewhere along the way I decided it was dangerous to want too much. Wanting too much was like playing that game where you describe how you’d spend your lottery winnings: it only reminds you of all you will never have.”
    – The Love Story Project

  57. It’s about realizing that not everyone can be the best at what they do, but this does not restrict anyone from being happy. To live your live-work all the time is something many seek, but it does not suit everyone. Some of us just need to be free, and enjoy life without actively engaging in any kind of production. Yes, this kind of a person is me.

  58. Congrats on all you have been able to achieve. There is a great deal of beauty in recognition and a great deal of beauty in consistency and normalcy. I appreciate your honesty about every aspect of the issue of “wanting” and resonate with much of what you said. Beautifully human and open. Thank you.

  59. I loved reading this. Only last night I said to my husband last night how ridiculously happy I was with life right now but I couldn’t pinpoint why. But I had the feeling that is was because ‘Sometimes life is just a series of days that all look mostly the same.’ I can take a lot of comfort from that…

  60. Hi Mandy!
    This is a lovely article and I am truly happy for your success.
    Maybe it’s because I don’t understand or maybe it’s just a different perspective, but I would think that a dose of wanting is healthy in many ways. In a way that there is some purpose in your life and that you wake up in the morning knowing what you want and that there is some motivation making you want to be better than who you were the previous day. And that maybe that is the secret of greater and greater success.

  61. Hello. Don’t be afraid of wanting anything. When you create your success there shouldn’t be any shame. You work hard for this success so enjoy all the goodness that comes with it.

  62. Mandy, I would like to congratulate you on your success! Sounds like you’ve worked hard and you deserve it. On the same token I would like to thank you for writing this post. The experience resonates highly with me. As 30 something year old who has tried and tried but not found the success I desired in my field it is inspiring to read about other people’s resilience and where it has led them. Recently I decided that I will stop fighting for success in the ways that I have been and instead I will take time off – renovate my old camper with my husband, camp in it with our son & dog, and blog about it. Maybe a different route will eventually lead me to where I am intended to be. Once again – thanks & congrats! 🙂

  63. What a wonderful way to articulate feelings that are difficult to manage, for those that many believe to be of significant notoriety. I really appreciate your manner of expression toward this matter.

  64. Pingback: Reader’s List | River Yoo

  65. Wanting too much is awful. When you get it, you’re over the moon. When you don’t, it’s horrible. I feel for you but I’m also delighted for you. If you didn’t deserve it, the universe would not have given it to you. Love your blog.

  66. Pingback: The Hard and Horrible “How Are You?” | Simone Samuels

  67. So… what happened in between those years? What was the difference between same-old-same-old and having things shift and stories to tell? Was it that all the writing just started to pay off? Do you think it was luck? Did you choose to change something? Just curious. 🙂

    • Hi Iris: Nothing changed, but I do think those years of writing made me a better writer. Basically, because I’d spent years researching and writing this book, when I published something that a lot of people wanted to read, I had a whole manuscript worth of writing to send to interested editors and agents. I worked really hard and then I got some really good luck–I think I needed both.

  68. Pingback: A Question of Confidence: Asking for What I Want – Traveling by Word

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