wanting to be beyonce

“Fragile” is a good way to describe this feeling. “Fragile,” and “vulnerable” and “a little skittish,” because my book is in the world for real now. It is out there and physical and a thing to pick up and touch and look at, and people are reading it—some people, anyway. Which means they’re forming opinions, and I have no control over it. I have no control over what anyone thinks of my book, or of the narrator or of the author or anything at all.

But then, when have I ever had control over that? No one has control over that—Beyonce’s publicist can try to pull as many photos of her off the internet as she likes, but we have still all formed our opinions (which go something like, “Even the most utterly stunning human on earth sometimes makes funny faces! Well, that is comforting. Man, she’s gorgeous. Ugh. Shut up, Beyonce. No wait, let me kiss you on your perfect face.”).

Basically, I want to be Beyonce. Basically, it is a feeling of deep unfairness that I am not Beyonce, and a sadness I will cradle in my arms and take to my grave. And as my flesh dissolves and my bones rattle down into dust I will still never be Beyonce, even after I merge with the Infinite, because Beyonce is even awesomer than the Infinite.

It’s complicated, these feelings. It’s complicated, writing a book. It’s rad, of course. I’m thrilled of course. I will always add those caveats and asides—I will always rush to assure you that I’m grateful for this opportunity and proud of this accomplishment and go me, because I’m worried about appearing ungrateful (because that’s just another vulnerability I expose, if you think I’m whining, if you want me to shut up about my diamond shoes being too tight.). I am glad and I am scared and there is so much I regret about it. About admitting my feelings. About being ridiculous. About being ridiculous and vulnerable about being ridiculous and vulnerable. Ridiculousness all the way down, really. Vicious cycle. You know.

I don’t deal well with ambiguity. This feels like limbo. I am holding my breath, and waiting. The book is out there and there’s this rushing sound in my ears as I sit and hope that people like it (me) and hope I didn’t make a mistake, and hope it’s not going to hurt when you say it’s not you, it’s me (knowing it will hurt more than I expect, because this is pure ego and pure id and pure, undiluted, fairly stupid, what-was-I-thinking vulnerability). Why did I do this?

And it’s a large question that burrows down deep and becomes, Why did I do anything? Why did I say that, do that, think that, text that, hope that, wonder if. Why can’t I just stop? Insidious. Very un-Beyonce like. She is not on a beach in Ibiza with Jay-Z fretting about dumb things she might have said. She doesn’t care. She is Beyonce, bitches.

I think it’s universal, this fear and trembling and hand-wringing. I think I am not special. I remember that, and I know it; and yet, this is harder than I expected it to be. It is thrilling and terrifying and it’s awful, because I am stupidly fragile, and I’m ridiculously vulnerable, and these are uncomfortable feelings that I am trying to purge. I am trying to tuck in all my loose parts and frayed edges and sparking nerves (as you can tell by this post here, clearly that is working super well) and I am trying to breathe in my nose and out my mouth (or is it supposed to be the other way around?). I am trying to tie up all the loose ends that leave me anxious and open and exposed. I am trying to confess and purge here. I am trying to be enough, enough and complete and whole and satisfied. I am trying not to eat a cake. I am trying not to lose my shit.

I will be fine—it’s late-night anxiety, it’s a long week, it’s feeling tired and feeling like a fool. It’s wanting to succeed. It’s wanting to not fail. It’s wanting to not hurt. It’s wanting to be Beyonce.

Posted in happiness and craziness, reading, writing, no arithmetic

  1. Posted February 8, 2013 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Actually, I think Beyonce is doing exactly that! She is famous for watching each and every one of her performances on video after she did them and analyze them and find any weak link, so she can perform better next time.

    But I understand your feeling. I am a photographer and after every photo shoot, when I am done editing the pictures and send them off to the client, I wait, trembling, hoping that the pictures will be received well. I want every photo shoot to be a life changing experience for my client, to be like “Wow, I never saw how beautiful my kids are! I didn’t know I was such a knock-out! These pictures are amazing!”. So I wait and wait until I get this confirmation and sometimes it takes a week and not always do I get exactly what I want to hear. Sometimes I just get a “They are great, thanks!” and then I am disappointed in myself and think that I fucked up and that the client hates me and will tell all of their friends that I suck.

    And then I have to remind myself that I have great clients because they are getting back to me at all – I know many photographers who deliver pictures and never hear back from their clients because a lot of people, unless they have to say something bad, will not say anything.

  2. Posted February 14, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    This is such a brilliant piece, such a brilliant evocation of what it means to be humbled and grateful and also petrified by the thought of bringing a book out into the world. Particularly such a personal book. You write beautifully and I have no doubt that your book will be a huge success.

  3. Melissa
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    I am so digging on this book. It’s one of those rare books that you’re fortunate to stumble across and just can’t put down. Keep finding myself riveted at midnight, saying “just one more chapter.” Half way through and I just don’t want it to end. Jen, you have such a compelling and unique voice. The way you express yourself is so real — it’s like no one else. (Especially love your description of getting a tattoo.) I hope to read more books from you.

  4. Matt
    Posted March 13, 2013 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Hi! Saw your Big Idea over at J Scalzi’s …thought you might like to know it got you a customer, and one who may seem to be outside your “core demographic” to boot. When I saw the article I also recognized the cover of your book (+1 bonus for sweet and recognizable artwork) from Amazon/Audible (+1) pimping it in an email to me. Which email I noted, but ignored (-2).

    But hey! you got me now, and I thought it might be neat for you to hear an anecdote of how your book got noticed by someone. Looking forward to the read…Hope it’s a huge success!

  5. Paloma
    Posted March 21, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    I recently read a book called “Daring Greatly” about the power of being vulnerable. I thought of that after reading your book today — how courageous you were in sharing your life. Bravo!

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