I celebrated my birthday recently and had some time to reflect as I turned 300. I rung in the day on Saturn, skating on the rings, listening to oldies while I broke 70k in my novel (almost to the finish line!). Three hundred is old, you say? Not for a Time Lord (or Time Lady, as it were).
“Stay in your lane” is a phrase I use to encourage my husband, the saint, or to describe a decision I made. “Keep moving forward” (as Walt famously said) is another way of saying this. For Christians, we could say “Keep your eyes on the cross.” In other words, don’t let the world (and its many lies and enticements) distract you.
Society is full of charlatans, and many of these charlatans sell their wares willingly and often, even if it’s only words. They want to divert you on your journey, weigh down your proverbial trunk with their junk and fill your gas tank with sugar. They’ll take your energy, waste your time, make excessive demands to appease their needs, and then leave you high and dry. These people have many names assigned to them: narcissists, emotionally immature, toxic, emotional vampires…What to do?
I’ve worked with people like this. They never took responsibility for a single thing they did, including the many mistakes they made, or the tasks they repeatedly ducked and watched as others scrambled to pick up their slack. They live in little bubbles of make believe, and they’ll rake their claws across you if you dare point out (or better yet: poke) their bubble of fantasy. The people I worked with deflected any accusations faster than Wonder Woman’s wrist guards ricocheted bullets. As I recognized their toxicity, I built boundaries higher and quicker than the Great Wall, and I enforced these with titanium, Kryptonite and lookout towers. My archers would signal to me when a plea for attention and pity would come my way, and I’d let it fly in the wind past me and dissolve into ash.
Stay in your lane; let people crash and burn (proverbially) in their journeys. Don’t be the wrecking crew for another person’s repeated and earnest mistakes; they need to learn themselves what to do better next time. And if they need professional help–or a legal wakeup call of sorts–it’s out there.
Until then, stay in your lane. You’ll meet many people in your life, as I have in my 300 years. Some of them will help you grow and learn, and some of them you might even help in a healthy, reciprocating friendship with beautiful boundaries and mutual respect. But some people you’ll meet won’t help you; they’ll want to tear you down instead, even if it’s subconsciously willed. It’s tricky learning to discern between the two, but you will. With time and practice.
Until then, happy writing and journeys. Stay resilient, and remember to take a pit stop every now and then for ice cream. Self care and all that, you know.