The other day, I was in my lovely local bookstore, where my Little Book of Anxiety is still one of their Top Ten bestsellers. It got as high as number four, and is now down to number nine, which is still a pretty great achievement.
I was feeling happy about my little book, until I glanced up at the books selling at number one, number two and number three.
Fifty Shades. Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed.
These books have sold about a billionty copies (okay, 20 million, but who's counting?*). And suddenly, my own tiny little book seemed, well, grey in comparison.
'What's the point?' I asked my four year old, who was browsing through Dora books and had nothing constructive to say.
'What's the point?' I asked my friend Kylie, who's a writer and understands exactly how I'm feeling. What's the point, I meant, of being in this business? What's the point, I meant, of writing books, of working my arse off, when my greatest successes will be so far removed from the dazzling heights reached by others?
And Kylie said something that struck a chord with me. She said, 'Don't compare yourself to others. Swim your own race**. YOU are your competition, and no-one else.'
And I felt better, immediately.
I can't write a Fifty Shades, and I really wouldn't want to. And I may never sell a billionty books (though that certainly would be nice). But I can keep on trying to be the best me I can be, which is ultimately the only role I'm qualified for, anyway.
And I think that goes for you, too, whoever it is you are. Agree?
**This was a metaphor. Kylie's daughter is a swimming champ. I avoid the water whenever possible.