Cynical

This weekend at the Blissdom conference I was joking with a friend. Well, actually, that isn’t quite true; I was joking. She was not. She mentioned how much she loved Tim Tebow (yes, I have friends that love Tim Tebow) and I, basically, snorted in derision. She said, “He’s so innocent…” and I replied, “Ha! He’s using Christianity as a marketing ploy!” I think she might have been able to just ignore me if I’d left it there. Instead I said, “He fucks three women a day, four on Sunday!

Because I’m THAT kind of asshole.

Truth is, I don’t have any really strong feelings about Tim Tebow. What I do have, however, is a bad flare up of cynicism. Most of the time cynicism doesn’t surface in me, and it stays contained; after all, no one likes a REAL cynic (we all love a good cynical joke, but within reason, of course) and I know that I can be obnoxious, and quite often.

But the worst is when I feel unhappy or uncomfortable in my own skin and I pick up my cynicism and wield it as a weapon.

This happened to me on Saturday night. After a lovely conference, I found myself spending much of the night at the last party alone. The people I’d hoped to be able to chat with and spend some time with turned out to have their own plans, and I was left with that horrible feeling of trying to get water out of a dry well, which made me bitter, so I sat in this loud party ignoring everyone and reading blogs on my phone and feeling sorry for myself.

I worked myself up to such a state that even when my dear friend Robin tried to drag me into the party spirit I couldn’t do it, I was too angry and resentful, and I was pissed off at the universe. It was in that place that I slung the Tim Tebow joke at my friend. Worse, I recognized in her face that I’d offended her, and I couldn’t let it go. I kept going.

I fucking hate that.

Intellectually, and in retrospect, I know what was going on. I’d be looking forward to this conference with great enthusiasm because I’d been thinking of it as a break, as a vacation, and as a way to fill my empty spirit back up with the great, positive energies of other women that blog. But the reality, of course, is that work doesn’t stop when you’re at a conference, it just becomes harder to do. So I was still stuck writing two columns a day for MomCrunch while there, as well as doing the work that AboutOne sent me to the conference to do. And while I had many a great conversation with good friends while there, I was expecting too much from those conversations, and everyone else was trying to fill up their spirits too.

And sadly, instead of contributing to filling up their spirits, I just brought my bitterness and expectations. I took, instead of giving – and that, ultimately, is what my heart does when it’s cynical. It demands, it doesn’t receive, and then when nothing if forthcoming it says, smugly, I fucking told you so.

Of course, I see this all now. And just like that conference I attended last summer, I know that this experience will help change the tone for me at the next blogging conference I’ll attend (and yes, there will be plenty more this year). Mostly because I realize that the empty well is ultimately inside of ME. And it’s going to take some work, personally, to fill it back up.

So I’ve started a morning gratitude list, where I’m forcing myself to list ten things I’m grateful for. I’m praying again, and I’m not asking for anything while I pray; I’m thanking instead. I’m spending a few moments in quiet each morning. I’m listening to beautiful music. Yesterday I forced myself to finish working at 6:30pm and enjoyed a quiet evening of television and surfing the web.

It’s going to take a while, but soon my heart will be full again and I’ll have more to offer. I don’t want to be the person I was on Saturday in Nashville. I don’t like that person at all.

Comments

  1. says

    ack the things we say sometimes, of course I don’t curse like you do because I cannot put asterisks into sh*t and f*ck when I speak out loud … but I tend to put my foot in my mouth quite often.
    Morning gratitude is a great place, and remembering to pray in thanks instead of in need – it will warm your soul. it sure does mine when I actually get around to it.

  2. says

    I love this. Thank you sharing a very raw moment with us and being brutally honest with yourself. That’s never easy but is incredibly liberating when we do. Love the attitude of gratitude too. I do that as well and the things to be grateful for just keep coming!

  3. says

    I so totally relate to this post. I am that cynical person a lot–and because I work so hard to try to hide that cynicism from my kids, when it finally escapes, it’s just awful.

    Cut yourself some slack though: yes, you have cause to be grateful, but just *watching* your travel and posting schedule the last few weeks is exhausting. It’s easier to be grateful when you’re sitting on a quiet beach somewhere than caught up in the struggles of day to day.

  4. says

    We’ve all been there, Cecily.
    But I also think you’re being too hard on yourself. You have a shitload of stuff going on, plus the conference, plus wanting to just be able to hang out. And trust me, I put my foot in my mouth many times over the weekend, and mortified myself right in front of Chris Mann. And I may or may not have done Jillian Michael moves on the stage during karaoke.

    So let this be a lesson to us.
    a) we are OKAY.
    b) nothing wrong with a little morning gratitude
    c) no matter what, you are someone who inspires people and it was just a joke. i laughed when i read it. so what does that say about me?

    you filled up my spirits by talking to me and actually taking a photo with me and following me on Twitter. so don’t discount all the things YOU DID DO.

    jumps off soapbox now.

    • says

      *gulp*

      Since Cecily was so honest and I was at the receiving end of the Tebow joke I’m going to go ahead and say that while I know she has a lot going on (as do I with several very similar obligations to Babble and actually working at the conference) it’s never okay to take anger and frustration out on an unassuming person.

      I had the most amazing time at the conference and it was brought to a painful halt on Saturday night. I tried to figure out why it hurt so bad or why it bothered me so bad and it came down to two things…

      My best friend and I joke that I am the proverbial straw and the world is my camel.

      One being that Cecily knows me well enough that she generally watches her language around me because she knows that’s not how I roll. I’ve never asked her to and I’ve always respected her for choosing different adjectives when I’m around however Saturday night there was no filter.

      Second, I don’t understand why we can’t just go out on a limb and believe that there actually is a good kid out there who believes in God, morals and uses his platform for something bigger, like giving sick kids hope, which he does at every opportunity, this is well documented. The judgement that was flung at him was unfair, especially when we all cry for fair treatment, understanding and the benefit of the doubt.

      That being said…Cecily apologized and I promised her all was forgiven and forgotten, which it is. I have made my own mistakes, I will continue to make mistakes and I will admit to them when I do, just as Cecily has.

      You are a wonderful lady Cecily, and I’m so happy I can call you my friend, associate and sister. Nothing could ever change that as long as you feel the same way.

      We all hit the cynic wall, it’s what we choose to do once we’re there that defines us. xoxo

  5. says

    Interesting. I had a similar experience on Friday night, and I’ve felt badly about it ever since.

    These are overwhelming environments, as great and wonderful and restorative as they can be. It’s a lot to take in, and social scenes with their expectations and disappointments can get the better of us.

    I just wrote through some of it myself, and you hit upon the exact good news that I did — it can inform us moving forward, it can make us better, and thank God for that.

    • Cecily Kellogg says

      Yep. I had a much worse but similar experience last year and it ended up changing my attitude at BlogHer and helped make BlogHer one of the best experiences of my life last year.

      thanks for laughing at my jokes, my dear.

  6. says

    Thanks for your honesty. I can’t imagine what I would have said to you if you’d made that joke to me. I’m so glad you ended this with hope though, and the action steps you’re taking to heal and make progress. Gratitude lists are amazing, powerful tools. Of course prayer and stillness are as well. We work hard and it’s so worth it to take time for healthy habits like these! I wholeheartedly endorse this :)

  7. says

    Ah well, one day I shall tell you my Tim Tebow story. Nah, I will tell you right now because it has to do with filling up spirit. (a bit) Between online jobs, I worked at University of Florida. I started as a temp secretary and worked up to “Information Specialist” in the FYCS dept. One day, I headed down on the elevator for break. A young man and what I thought was his father stepped in after me. They looked like “preview” parents. I rambled about what a great school UF was, about how if he liked sports, they had a good football team to go see and basketball team. If he didn’t that he should hide in the dorm on football weekends because it is overwhelming. I mentioned my kids called it being in a parade after being confused the first time they realized we were in football traffic. (Obviously a parade: driving slow, people waving signs and bouncing around on the side of the road) I basically did my very best socially inept ramble, trying to make the school seemed friendly. The boy and “his father” seemed amused and were very polite. The boy said thank you ma’am and smiled. In fact, everything he did is what I would want my son to be as a young adult in an elevator with someone. I thought little of it. When I returned to the office, everyone was squeeing about Tim Tebow and him up there to talk about his major. Erm. I said you mean…and described my elevator ride. Yes, that was them. Everyone was amused because they knew me and knew my enthusiasm mixed with the fact I never know anyone–much less a coach and star football player. He became a student in the department and actually seemed to care about the classes and his work. (more than really required to stay eligible) I would see him in the halls from time to time and smile. “UF and FYCS were a good choice” “Yes’m.”
    Ok, so now I have rambled and not mentioned how this really intersects, except it was one of those blah work days and going on break, I really wanted the day over. I felt for the “preview” kid and “his father.” A few words. I don’t know why I actually did talk, but I did. I am not sure I amused them past the elevator ride. I do know it gave me something to tell Denise on the car ride home. It gives me something to smile about from time to time. It makes me feel a bit better when I totally am ready to hide in a shell at conferences. Because those few words I started to say to help someone, really ended up helping me.
    That said, I tend to be super cynical in my head and at home. I want to try to change that because I see my kids are the same way and it frustrates me seeing it reflected in them.

  8. says

    Your honesty is beautiful. We’ve all been that person who’s used words as weapons. I think admitting that I do it out of insecurity and bitterness is a painfully vulnerable process, but the release and redemption that comes next is always worth it. I hope that’s your experience, too.

    This is honestly the first time I wished I would have made it to that party Saturday night. Could’ve sat with you. xo

  9. says

    The truly grace-filled part of this is that you are so wonderfully able to reflect on this and grow from it, rather than getting mired down. That is inspirational for the rest of us who have “those moments” too.

  10. says

    I love your transparency here Cecily! The fact that you not only identify where you are and how it impacts your interactions is POWERFUL!!! More people could benefit from this type of reflection. My prayer for you is that you are refilled beyond measure. MUAH!

  11. says

    What a gift this post is. I wrote yesterday about the nervous energy that courses through these kinds of events, like static shock. It’s where those “did I really just say that” moments come from. I had a couple of them, and in fact, one involved you, when Shannon and I wandered over to your restaurant table and I repeated the hostess’ comment about “the party with the pink hair.”

    When I was 13, I once bounced up to an older girl I admired terribly, and said some similarly dorky, obvious thing that won me a blank stare. In that moment, I was right there.

    Thank GOD I’m 42, and I don’t have to stay there. You are so perceptive in recognizing these stumbles are about our own vulnerability. Admitting it gives others permission to take off the armor, too.

    One of my favorite takeaways from Blissdom was on Friday morning, waking up to the committee in my head telling me how loud, how rude, how dull, how TOO I was the night before, when a text message came through from a friend, apologizing for the same “offenses.” And she had been nothing but delightful! It was a good lesson for me in perceptions. And though she had nothing to apologize for, I appreciated knowing that I wasn’t the only one feeling unsure of myself.

    Fill that well, Cecily. Love the quote from Colbert!

  12. says

    I was starting to get cranky on Saturday night- I think it’s being away for a few days, all the energy, yet still knowing that real life is waiting for me. I got to a point where I realized that if I stayed down there, I would end up saying something I really didn’t mean, just because I was cranky. So, I went to bed. Not super early, but still a lot earlier than I would have had I not been so irritable.

    Maybe I need my own gratitude list!

  13. jb says

    assvice coming: they did this study (ok, ok, who does this stuff??) and found out its actually better to NOT make a gratitude list every day, but in fact its better to do it a couple times a week. I picked Wednesday as that is a day I tend to be beaten down, and Sunday, as the weekends can provide a little more time to reflect on gratitude. Consider that. We also do a “happy thought” from the day when the kids go to bed – it can be anything from a movie, yummy dinner, friend we saw – simple stuff – its a great way to end the day if its been a rough one with the kids. hang in there. I know that cynical spiral quite well.

  14. meme says

    Honestly, other than the inappropriateness of the intensity and obscenity of your cynicism and that it was targeted at a friend…I don’t disagree. I do think Tebow’s evangelical Christianity is, in part, about marketing and self-promotion. I also find it annoying, because I find evangelical Christianity annoying. I think it is unlikely that he is celibate.

    And you are allowed to have this opinion as well.

  15. says

    Oh, Cecily. I had dinner with you on that last night and I thought you were delightful and funny and gracious :-) But I totally understand what you mean. It’s hard when we don’t project the person that we want to project. Or when the expectations of something don’t meet up with the reality. But truly- I thought you were just pure awesome sauce.

    After dinner at the party, I felt very much like a tagalong, so I left and ended up just going back to my room. I kinda felt like everyone knew each other and that all the “big bloggers” would want to be left alone. (How dumb and high school is that?) Now, I’m wishing I would have stayed and we could have been insecure together!

    As always, I glean so much from your posts about being honest with ourselves. I thanked you for it in person, but I’ll tell you again- Your willingness to be so vulnerable in such a public forum is a gift to so many!

  16. says

    I have absolutely no idea who Tim Tebow is (but I have worked out that it isn’t Tiny Tim) but I really get what you are saying.

    Sometimes I have to really move myself into “conscious living” where I don’t react, I have to consciously think about my actions and words, because my automatic responses can be quite nasty and cutting.

    I haven’t blogged much of late at all, because all of the busyness of my life overwhelms and I have learned that, while sometimes I have to push myself out of a rut, sometimes that little rut is the only thing stopping me from going right over the edge into WTF-dom.

    So much of this post resonated with my Cecily. Thanks, It is what I needed this morning. Off to contemplate my own gratitudes.

  17. says

    While I think its great that you’re trying to build yourself up and not use cynicism as a weapon to counteract insecurity or frustration I think you’re being too hard on yourself. I have yet to go to a “real” blogging conference and one of my main fears is that I would find myself in the exact position you were in, alone on my phone. I think its really hard when you’re in that position not to feel sorry for yourself and even a bit hurt. Its so hard when you have such high expectations for something not to feel slightly let down when reality isn’t as great as the fantasy. I think we’ve all definitely been there.

    PS. I tend to agree with you on Tebow.

    • Cecily Kellogg says

      It is a risk. I’m just going to remember to set up Sat night in a way that works. But conferences are really mostly awesome. :)

  18. ICant_LeaveOne says

    I’m sorry, and I mean it because I am a fan and a subscriber, but I can no longer click through from my reader to enjoy your posts.

    • Cecily Kellogg says

      I understand. I can no longer tolerate all the content scrapers that have been stealing my posts. :(

  19. says

    Oh Cecily!
    Big hugs.
    I know that lonely in a room full of people feeling as well as the snarling crunchy person that wants to come through!
    I love the idea of a gratitude list and just this whole post.
    Another hug.
    -r

  20. Caz says

    Tebrow hasn’ reached the UK, though I wonder how I’d react since I mix cynicism with sentimentality. Distrustful of evangelism though, whatever the cause.
    About perceptions, and the committee in your head….I went to the cinema tonight with my daughter, and on the way out heard an unflattering remark about me made by one young man to another, who realised I was in earshot and hushed him. As I walked back to the car I decided that my ego was actually strong enough to take it, and that he was possibly feeling worse about it than me. It was a conscious decision to not rip myself apart about a small incident.
    On the other hand, a few days ago I expressed irritation and frustration about general life stuff in a way that spilt over onto a friend, an inocent bystander, and I feel bad about that. I need to find a way to put it right so I can feel OK again.

  21. Shelley says

    Man. I know where you are and what you mean, although mine tends to not be cynicism so much — it’s when I allow myself to feel judgmental and unkind feelings about someone for unfair reasons, and act accordingly. That’s when I really can’t stand myself. But I’m working on it.

    That’s really all we can do, isn’t it? Acknowledge it, and work on it.

  22. Charlie says

    Well you know my thinking. I never retract, I double-down. Every time I’ve tried to back-peddle, I’ve only made things worse. Far worse. And later, the thing I regret is the back-peddling, the people-pleasing,, NOT the original offense. I remember once my mom went off at a dinner party. “All cops are idiots,” I believe was her opening line. And she elaborated: how actual cops were so unlike TV cops, how they couldn’t catch a cold, etc. Then the woman across the table says, “My brother is a police officer.” My mom, bless her stone cold heart, didn’t miss a beat. “I’m so sorry to hear that,” she said.

  23. says

    Lesson learned: we’re all going through the same shit and use the same insecurities to mask things. I’m actively working to become less of a cynic. Snark runs in my veins.

    I was at that party Saturday, and was sofaking pissed that I couldn’t find a seat (since I’m in a walking cast and my ankle was the size of a baseball). I seriously said to my friend, “no one wants to give me a seat, and I’m not going to ask for one” and off I moped. It wasn’t until the cha cha slide and half the room got up that I grabbed the balls and took a seat.

    I saw you sitting to the right of the stage, on your phone. I sat in my seat, ass firmly planted, telling myself I would love to talk to you more, but convinced myself I had nothing significant to say.

  24. Alyssa says

    To poorly quote our president, “cynicism is the sorriest kind of wisdom.” or something very close to that. I try to remember this when I am being snarky, but I fail.

  25. Erica says

    Love, love, love this post. I’m still reeling over a luncheon with some friends a few months ago in which I said some things that were taken offensively. And I mourn that I was not given quarter, or excused away like so many others. And then I remember that -THAT is not the point.
    Words are swords, and those of us with a lot of armor forget the power we hold.
    God grant me the serenity to speak authentically versus saying everything that comes into my mind and please bless me with the ability to know the difference.

  26. says

    First of all, I loved seeing you and your smile brightened my day more than once. Second, this happened to me last year and I’m sad to say I was devastated. Multiple people bailed on me for one of the nights leaving me alone walking the streets of Nashville looking for something fun to do, totally depressed. I wish I would have seen you sitting there – I would have come over. I didn’t get to talk to you at all, and that sucks. Anyway, i’m sorry you felt this way.
    p.s. your headlines always rock. :) was going to say that in the session but forgot

  27. says

    moosh in indy….

    I’m a huge sports fan & sadly will forgive my heroes almost anything. As someone who was raised in a Protestant church and who has been waffling on issues of faith & the existence of God for all my adult life, I find the narrative espoused by Tim Tebow compelling. He appears to be a nice man with his heart in the right place.

    However, his father is a Bible literalist who hates gays, their faith is a prosletizing one that seeks visibility and conversion and I doubt his mother would be as happy to have not chosen the option of abortion if her son turned out to be a person other than a charismatic, wealthy football player.

    I have friends whose beliefs don’t align with mine but I don’t restrain my speech in their presence and they don’t restrain theirs.

  28. says

    Don’t get me going on the Tebow thing. Being married to a man who RUNS a million dollar sports radio station I TOTALLY see what happens on the other side.

    I, by the way am not a sports fan. Because it affects my family to an insane degree. I’m proud of my husband professionally, but personally-it has wreaked havoc on our marriage. He has to eat, sleep & breathe it which in turn means it can’t be ‘turned off’.

    The sports community builds a raging fire under me. When Michael Vick came to the Philadelphia Eagles I was actually on Dr. Phil, in a roundtable discussion with Governor Rendell, Jerry Mondesire, and a couple other prominent Philadelphians. And I can proudly say I ate Mondesire for dinner…enough so much that after the show Dr. Phil and his wife actually came up to me personally thanking me for my stance. (That was cool. lol) It’s a priviledge -NOT a right to be an athlete. What Vick, Dante Stallworth (killed someone in a drunk driving crash) and so many other athletes think is that the ‘did their time’ and should get to do their ‘job’. Bullsh*t. What about the teacher who pose nude in playboy? FIRED. What about the soldier who was dishonorably discharged which is equivalent to a felony in civil courts for making an honest mistake? DONE.

    What does this have to do with Tim Tebow, you ask? haha

    Athletes are perceived as ‘role models’. I REFUSE to fall in the Tebow Trap whether he’s a good christian or not. He’s using his ‘prayer’ ritualistically and inappropriately. It’s called TAUNTING. If he really wants to prove his Christianity-then he has to prove it to me OFF the football field.

    I’m a Christian. And I definitely get the ‘thou shall not judge’…but I do judge when it comes to sports and how people idol athletes.

    They should be idolizing their local serviceman who died for our country. The teacher who worked so hard to educate their children. The ambulance driver who saved their life.

    NOT a football player.

    OH MY GOSH. Sorry Cecily for totally going off on your site. Thank you for being you. Because even though you find yourself in a cynical space-you admit it. How many people in the world will actually admit it?

    Hugs….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>