I had a revelation last year that changed my life. I was sitting at a friend’s house, watching a wonderfully terrible B movie and taking notes because I had to review it, but losing my place in my notes because I kept laughing, when someone broke out the gourmet cupcakes. These things looked like manna from Heaven: plump, moist cakes in flavors like chocolate coconut chip and peanut butter fudge swirl, topped with perfectly sculpted sugary goodness (“frosting”), and my internal dialogue went haywire. You can’t eat that. There are more calories in one of those cupcakes than the average human being needs to consume in a week . . . but if you don’t have one, the person who brought them will be insulted. YOU should’ve brought them. Shame on you for not being thoughtful enough to bring gourmet cupcakes!
I know it’s stupid. Bear with me here.
As I sat on that couch, beating myself up and almost missing the line in Throg where the father hands the son a giant stone and says “Here’s the rock we found you under,” a new voice piped up in my head. A sane voice. A rational voice. And Rational Voice said: I want a cupcake. Let’s eat.
Negative Voice tried to pipe up. But the calori—
Shut up. The chocolaty wonderfulness that cupcake will infuse in our soul is worth every stinking calorie. I liked the way Rational Voice was thinking.
Are there enough cupcakes for everyone? You shouldn’t have one if there aren--
Negative Voice was drowned out by the sound of me stuffing my face with a cupcake. And it was good.
That was the very moment when I gave up on trying to be a better person. As I licked the chocolate-coconut frosting from my fingers, I realized that the one person who was constantly nagging me to improve on myself was me. Why couldn’t I just accept myself for who I was, flaws and coconut-chocolate smeared face and all? Wasn’t I good enough?
Things changed after that. I was done trying to improve myself. Every morning, I used to beat myself up for drinking too much coffee. Now I know that four cups of coffee a day is a perfectly acceptable. You’re not shooting heroin, Rational Voice says. “Darn tootin’,” I reply. (Here’s the thing about Rational Voice: not only does she make me feel good about myself, she never picks on me for talking to myself, nor for using phrases like “Darn tootin’.”)
I made some other changes, too. I stopped accepting invitations to baby showers and jewelry parties and after-hours networking events and day trips to places that bore me to tears. I didn’t bother with excuses, I just said “No.” I cut some people out of my life that were toxic and parasitic. Whenever someone complains that we don’t talk on the phone or see each other enough, instead of apologizing, now I say “Well, you can visit with me now instead of complaining, or you can not see me at all. How about that?”
Perhaps it’s selfish. The thing is, women are raised in this society to think of everyone else but themselves. I’m tired of acting that way. Someone’s got to put me first. And who better than me?
I no longer try to be a “good” person. I’d rather be a happy person. So if you’ll excuse me (and if you won’t, it doesn’t matter anyway), I’m eating the cupcake.