How to Be C+

A while back, I wrote an essay titled “how to be B-” and your responses were overwhelming. Collectively, we achieved tremendous success being B-, which included things like: not dusting, not replying to emails immediately, leaving dishes in the sink, not apologizing for typos, showing up a few minutes late, and saying NO NO NO to things we usually say OK UM YES FINE OK YES to. I was so heartened by the sense of relief so many of you shared with me, that it got me thinking…

If we extend the report card metaphor a bit further (cliches are a great way to be B-, by the way; in a B- world, cliches are totally on trend haha!), I think it’s time to think about finishing 2022 with a C+ mindset.

Yep, you read that correctly. I’m not going to say “finish strong” or “set the bar high” or “achieve greatness.” Instead, I’m going to say, “be average” and celebrate the “+” in your lives. Let’s take this apart piece by piece, both for our lives and our work as writers or creatives.

First, the C part: Maybe average can mean balance. Maybe balance can mean wellness. And maybe wellness doesn’t mean OM or UNPERTURBED, rather, it means what Emily and Amelia Nagoski say in Burnout Burnout Burnout:

“To be ‘well’ is not to live in a state of perpetual safety and calm, but to move fluidly from a state of adversity, risk, adventure, or excitement, back to safety and calm, and out again. Stress is not bad for you; being stuck is bad for you. Wellness happens when your body is a place of safety for you, even when your body is not necessarily in a safe place. You can be well, even during the times when you don’t feel good.”

This is why I tell my Monthly Mentees to “write like water” and to “follow the path of least resistance.” This does not mean I don’t also advise them in making hard decisions, coaching themselves through difficulty, or hearing feedback from themselves or others that invites introspection. But it does mean that writing is a legit hard and amazing thing—when we write, we invent entire worlds out of the intangible and then render those worlds so realistically, sometimes we can make other people cry, scream, laugh, or…fall asleep, lol!

To be C means to be fluid. (To bend without breaking, if you want another cliche.) And when we’re fluid, guess what else is true? We’re better at the “+” part.

Now for some “Hit Reply” ruminations and questions:
Let’s think about wellness and fluidity as our home ground … our beautiful, average ways of being. And let’s think about how that is not only “enough” but, in fact, entirely natural. Like–homeostasis. Just average. Just C. Just as we need to be.

  • What does “being C” look and feel like in your day-to-day?
  • What does “being C” look and feel like in your writing (or creative) life?

Now let’s think about +. To me, that little symbol can mean so much (and I am putting it in a subjective, introspective context; not a gender or identity context). To me, + is an invitation: Plus what? It’s also a boundary: What do I already know that can be added into these quadrants? It’s also a mystery: What might come next, on the other side of that plus? I can think of the + in any of those ways, on any given day. If I’m feeling well, fluid, beautifully average, then maybe I lean into that + as an invitation. If I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed, or even delightfully focused, I might lean into those quadrants of familiarity. If I’m feeling connected, or yearning for connection, and want to be drawn out or surprised, I might lean into that + as a mystery.

  • What did “+” look and feel like for you, the last time you surprised yourself?
  • What did “+” look and feel like for you, the last time you got overwhelmed?
  • What does “+” mean for you?

I’d say that’s about enough for one soapbox! 🙂 But if you’ve made it this far, you know I’m eagerly awaiting your replies. You might also know that I just this week finished writing back to those of you who responded to last month’s Hit Reply provocations. Guess what? Responding when I had space in my heart and day, even if it took a month, is one way to be C+. I hope you’ll write to me and tell me how you’re planning to embrace C+. I can’t wait to find out!

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