Sometimes you drive to work with a Diet Coke on your car . . .

. . . and sometimes that Diet Coke rolls off the roof, smashing into the roadway and dissolving in a puddle of foamy soda goodness. And wrecking your hopes, dreams and aspirations for a decent morning along with it.

Each day begins with a soda. I’m not going to deny it or make excuses for it — it’s just what I do. Some people have coffee, others have tea; I have Diet Coke (or Diet Pepsi — I have no loyalty). It’s the jolt I need to get the little wheels in my brain turning, and I definitely need them to turn.

I got my first hate mail at the paper yesterday. It was only a matter of time, I guess, because no one is allowed to feel successful without someone wanting to cut them down. Someone actually bothered to hand write two pages’ worth of material on how much I suck, illuminating my “narcissism” and “atrocious grammar” (say what?). She wrote that she couldn’t “suffer through any more of my ‘articles'” without writing me, which was really kind of her. I appreciated her sweet words of encouragement on an afternoon when I was already overworked, overstressed and struggling with a variety of personal issues.

I can’t let it get to me, I know. Haters are everywhere and everyone feels the need to comment on your life and your work, especially when it’s out there for all to see. There was no signature or return address, of course; she signed it, “A Reader (Female).” As if I would think for a second that was a dude sending me a handwritten card in pretty cursive handwriting, maligning me for being an epic failure of a person. How cowardly.

Whatever. I threw it away.

But it bothered me. I can’t pretend like it didn’t, though I valiantly puffed up my chest and tried to get back to work. “This is an opportunity to prove I can take a little criticism,” I thought. “This is a story I can tell about how some clueless person couldn’t recognize my genius.”

But I’m not a genius, of course. I’m just a writer. A young woman. I have a local column. I love it and it matters to me, but I’m not perfect. Sometimes I make typos or forget words or don’t say anything sensational, but that’s the nature of the biz. Some columns are better than others. Some are a stretch, I’ll admit it. But all I can do is the best I can do, and not everyone is going to like me.

That’s a lesson I had to learn early, but it’s a tough pill to swallow: Not everyone is going to like me.

And that was yesterday. Today is Thursday, and Thursdays are always good days. I have my bridesmaid dress fitting and friends’ emails to return and my birthday is Monday and I have a great family and I’m in love with someone who loves me, so I don’t care about a pretty handwritten card with nasty words inside.

Though I do wish I had that Diet Coke right about now.


52 thoughts on “Sometimes you drive to work with a Diet Coke on your car . . .

  1. Some people stink. I coached for eight years and spent a lot of time trying to interrupt my thinking so I wouldn’t dwell on what was being said or written. We also talk about this in my writing classes since most of the students do their work on a public blog. If you’re “out there,” or just walking out in the world, some of the stinky people are going to speak up and then we have to think about how to proceed. Lots of ways. Not a cheery post from me, I guess, but letting you know I’m reading and thinking.

    • Thanks William — I appreciate it! You’re right: even if you’re not deliberately putting your thoughts out in the world, someone might come along and try to squash you . . . just because. Not fun.

  2. Don’t they say that you know you’ve actually “made it” when you start getting hate mail? It is some biddy who has nothing else to do but cut others down. You’ve got it all going on, and don’t let anybody tell you different! As for that Diet Coke, I’d buy you a nice cold one right now if I could. That is my way to start the day and rid the world of evil.

    • Good point, Sandy! And I’d totally take you up on that cold Diet Coke. I did get my fix this morning, at least . . . made sure that can was in my car before pulling away, that’s for sure!

  3. Hugs to you. =/ Criticism is hard to take, even when you know it’s unwarranted (as you do in this case). You’re focusing on exactly the right things, though, and obviously I would bet the vast majority of your paper readers love you (just like your blog readers do!). Think of it as a sign that you’ve made it.

    • Thanks, Meghan — criticism is definitely hard to take, but I have to develop a thicker skin. I’m sure it’ll come with time.

  4. I put my purse on top of my car, something distracted me, don’t know what. About five miles of driving towards work, I glanced over to the passenger side and realized where it was. I drove off the road where the communtiy trash bins where and retrieved my purse. I was so embarassed, I didn’t want even me to know!!!

    • Happens to the best of us, Carol! I’ve driven off with mail on top of my car, keys . . . you name it. My drink was probably the worst, though, because I wanted it so badly. And wouldn’t you know I drove by the can again today? It’s taunting me . . . must go clean up the litter, too.

  5. Some people have too much time on their hands and need to get a life. There must be something she likes about your articles if she continues to read them! I would take it with a grain of salt and remember that there are lots of us who enjoy and appreciate your writing! Hope you have a better day today.

    • Good point, Anna! No one’s holding the paper up to her eyeballs. But she’s probably reading my column weekly to feel all smug and superior to how “ridiculous” I am . . . hrmph. But that’s her issue! And thanks for the kind words.

  6. I’m sorry, Meg. How awful. It’s a sad truth – raise your head above the parapet, try and do something even just a little different, and there will be some cold-souled killjoy who will hate you for it. Of course you try and rise above it, try and not care – but inevitably you do. All I can tell you is that it does get easier. You get bothered less – but I don’t think that little twinge of angst ever goes away completely. Be brave!!

    • A “cold-souled killjoy” — I love it, Alex! Thanks for the encouragement. We have to keep pressin’ on and ignore those jerks, that’s for sure.

  7. Where I used to work we invited feedback from the families with the caveat it must be signed to be read. Think of it this way–you are an animal activist, you saved someone’s dog today by receiving the brunt of their anger. Dog saved, trash fed.

    Sorry about your Coke though.

    • Absolutely, Judy! Some people obviously have sad lives and anger issues, and I guess I was just the target of the day.

  8. I think someone who’d take the time to write an angry (anonymous) letter probably has issues with many people in her own life and you’re just an easy target. I wouldn’t read any other unsigned letters.

    • Very true, Mary. I’m going to make sure I don’t open anything without a return address from now on . . . if they want to be taken seriously, they can’t hide behind anonymity.

  9. Oh my goodness, I wish I could beat this anonymous female up! I wonder what she could have done with the time it took her to write two pages full of hate and anger. Very unproductive. I feel sorry for her and sorry that you had to suffer because of her. 😦

    • Thanks, Melissa — definitely not a fun experience! That’s what hurt/shocked me the most, I guess: that someone would actually take the time to hand write something so hurtful and mail it to me. I would never, ever do something like that — not to a stranger. To someone I’ve never met and don’t even know. (And not even to someone I do know! I mean, what the heck?)

    • Not an awesome week, Meg, but I’m trying to brush the haters off and move forward! Writing the next column after those ugly remarks was a little tough, but I’m not letting her get to me. She’s just one random, lost soul in a sea of people.

  10. Sorry about the hate mail, that sucks. Since I started my job, I’ve gotten quite a few nasty e-mails about columns I’ve written — engineers can be unforgiving. One of my favorite recent ones said I was “presumptively misguided” and judgmental of the unwashed masses. That’s the big time πŸ™‚

    It’s pathetic she didn’t even put her name on the letter. It takes courage to put yourself out there, in print for everyone to see or in a letter telling someone you disagree.

    • Holy cow, Kim — “presumptively misguided” and “judgmental of the unwashed masses”? Um, how condescending is that? I guess folks that because we’re more visible and louder than the average person, they can try and cut us all down to size. And in our web-based culture, everyone thinks they have an opinion they need to shout from the rooftops. I definitely prescribe to the old adage: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

      And you’re right: it does take courage on both ends . . . both in the writing and in the response. I guess in a way I’m glad she didn’t sign it, though . . . I would have been very tempted to respond, and that would have been completely unproductive.

    • Quite true, Kathy — and I celebrated with a big ol’ bowl of pistachios and no guilt when I ate most of the bag! I felt I deserved it after a rough day. Better than alcohol or ice cream, eh?

  11. Well I like you! And even though I don’t get your column in my area, I’m sure it’s amazing. I’d totally read it.

    • Thanks, Amy! I appreciate it. Maybe someday it’ll reach a larger audience and “A Reader (Female)” can be greeted with my smiling mug over every cup of morning coffee. πŸ™‚

  12. I agree with everyone else, it must be success it they’re writing to b*tch. And there’s this: she says she can’t stand you but she keeps reading your work (remember she said she couldn’t “suffer” any more without writing you, which makes me believe she is still reading your articles. There must be something she’s enjoying if she keeps reading. So, in the words of CeeLo Green “forget her”.

    • Excellent point! She loves to hate me, I suppose. And now she’ll probably read weekly to see if she’s gotten to me. Not today, “A Reader (Female)”! She’ll never defeat me!

  13. It’s very easy to be a “hater” when you don’t sign your name to the letter. Some people are just mean. Or didn’t take their medicine today. And as your column gains more readers you’ll get more nasty letters. Think it of as success. And now go have that diet Coke!

    • Haha — quite true, Leslie! My dad said I should write at the end of my next column, “And confidential to A Reader (Female): you should really have your doctor check your prescription strength. Somethin’ ain’t workin’.”

  14. Ugh, what a sucky day. Some sage words from Andy Warhol: “Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches.” I hope today has been better.

  15. I know it is hard to let it go…but you have to and you will…I sometimes think that people who strive for perfection…and care the most…about things in general…get hurt the most when an eensy bit of badness comes our way…but you will let it go and laugh at it…probably by next week…hee hee hee…

    • Definitely, Patty — that one letter really deflated me, though I’m doing better today. You’re right: I just have to laugh about it! My family and boyfriend have been pretty good about cheering me up and reminding me to just ignore it. It’s already pretty funny, really . . . the time that some people have.

  16. No matter how hard we try, sometimes we just can’t help but take it personally. Sorry your day was made worse by a crazy angry person. Hopefully, you’ll get some fan mail to balance it out.

    • You’re right, Meredith — even though I repeat the “it’s not personal” mantra all the time, it definitely feels personal. Everyone has been very kind and supportive, and I really appreciate it. It’s no big deal at all in the grand scheme of things, but it stung.

  17. Well here’s me sending you some love, because I am not a hater. In fact, I do gobble up your words with a sense of admiration. And I admire all that you have accomplished. I think that having your own column is awesome. And what you write on this blog is awesome so I have no doubts that what you write in your column is equally amazing. But I also understand where you are coming from – criticism hurts. Still, I think that you have the right idea — take the criticism, let it sting a bit, and then carry on with all the other wonderful things you have going for you! And remember, I think that you are awesome!

    And also, happy birthday (just in case I don’t make it online on Monday!)

    • Thank you, Jennifer . . . I really appreciate it! And I think you’re awesome, too. πŸ™‚ My birthday will definitely perk me up!

  18. You know what they say, you’ve made it when you start getting hate mail. So I say, congratulations on your hate mail. You’re obviously doing well.

    I would LOVE to read your column.

    Chin up!
    Water off a ducks back.
    And all that jazz.
    She’s obviously BLIND and mean….

    So play “Mean” by Taylor Swift and get your self another Diet Coke πŸ˜€


    ❀ ya!

    • I’m sipping a cool Diet Coke while I type this comment, Juju — and thanks so much! Some people can’t help but sip the Haterade.

  19. megggg! i’m virtually chucking you on the chin and telling you ‘chin up, girlie!’ sounds like she’s a bully–and what’s worse is that she’s hiding behind a veil of anonymity. too bad you threw it away–i would have sent it off to quantico for finger printing! lol. listen, it’s a bitter pill to swallow that not everyone sees the merit in your efforts and the HEART you put into your column but it’s her loss. it’s just too bad that she didn’t have the manners to remember that if you don’t have something kind to say, not to say it at all. it’s not like she was FORCED to read your column or that you provided poor customer service to her, it was just a mean and spiteful thing she did and bad karma will come around and bite her in the behind. πŸ™‚ don’t forget to count your online blogging buddies in your support network–we love ya! xo

    • I’m all about the karma, Nat, and you’re right: what goes around comes around! I’ll keep that chin high and keep typing. Goodness knows she’s not going to shut my big mouth up! xoxo

  20. OK. First. You are awesome.
    Second. That person has issues.
    Third. At least you don’t have to live/work/exist anywhere near that person’s presence. (Phew.)
    Fourth. Nevertheless, I totally get it that it bothers you.
    Fifth. I wish for you a swift and complete release from that ickiness. You deserve the Good. Write on, Miss Meg.

  21. That sucks! I’ve never left anything on the top of my car (yet!) but I’ve had plenty of crappy days at work. If it’s any consolation, just know that we all do sometimes!

    • Very true! I should feel fortunate that most days don’t include nasty mail, and now I’m seeing how great a peaceful and “boring” day on the job can be!

  22. I was going to say the same as Sandy. If someone thinks your column is worth spending time writing hate mail for, then you’ve got some fame there. Unfortunately now they do too, which does make you wonder whether that’s the reason they wrote. You can’t please everyone.

    • Yes — I guess I should be flattered! Haha. Thanks, Charlie — learning I can’t please everyone has been a challenge, but I think it’s sinking in. Just have to reverse my thinking a bit and cut myself some slack!

  23. I have not read your columns, but if they are anything close to what you are writing in here, they are bound to be good! At least you have many readers in here, and we like what you do! This many people can not be wrong…right? πŸ™‚

    I bet you are an inspiration to writers/bloggers/readers all over the world, Meg! Keep up the good work!:)

  24. Meg, I am really sorry you had to receive such a letter. It sounds obvious that someone had way too much time on their hands and didn’t know how to use it wisely!

    In any case, I do hope you know how awesome and talented you are! πŸ˜€ I don’t need to read your articles to know how beautifully you write, as your blog is built with fantastic reviews that are always well written. Sadly we often notice the one negative comment amid thousands of positive ones, but the majority win in this case, which means that clearly, you’re 100% amazingness! πŸ˜€

  25. Girl, you should have saved that hate mail! Like Sandy said, you only get hate mail when you’ve made it πŸ™‚ Plus, it would be fun to laugh at when your book gets published and sells like crazy!

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