Why I Cried From A Negative Book Review

No, Grandma, I did not write a book yet. Instead, I read a book and was going to leave a review on Amazon for it.

No, Grandma, I wasn’t going to leave a negative review, neither. Instead, I glanced at a negative review on the side and the rare emotional side of me put me in tears.

Okay, I am lying again. The emotional side of me isn’t rare. I cry a lot. There’s an overflowing of compassion in me, believe it or not, that doesn’t always come out in my tweets complaining about traffic. 

I’ll quit lying and being elusive and explain now. 

I was part of a book launch team for Jeff Goins’ “Art of Work.” As part of the launch team, we are asked to write a honest review of the book. So, a few weeks late, I went to go write my review on Amazon. I wasn't really sure what to write other than: "I highlighted a lot of lines! Tweeted a lot of quotes from this! It was great and I love Jeff!" so, I glanced at other reviews for what people put. 

And I saw a negative review on there that broke my heart. This review wasn’t mean. It didn’t call Jeff any bad names or insult his gingerness (that’s a real word, Microsoft Word, shush!)

The review was rather short; shown below:

Reason 1: Not everyone gets to be the “real them”?
I wanted to hug this person. The fact that I want to hug them is a very telling because I am not a physical touch type of person. But someone believes they don’t get to be the “real them” is probably what breaks my heart the most in the whole world. Why doesn’t everyone get to be the real them? 

Wait, back up, isn’t that the point of this whole book? If you read it or heard about me talk about it, the premise is that you have some things in you that are unique to you. And it’s more than a job; it’s more than a career or something for a paycheck. 

I’ve been calling it “a sentence” to my friends when I explain it. That it’s something that goes beyond retirement. It’s something that started before you had your first job. It’s more than a word that follows your name when you introduce yourself to people. It’s a sentence that continues throughout your life.

Not, “Hi I’m Carlee. I’m a writer.”

It’s: “Hi, I’m Carlee and I have a lot of feelings and think the way people order their coffee is beautiful and I like to share with people what I find in every day life and in complaining about traffic.”

I’m still working on that sentence. But the point is, that sentence was probably close to the same way I was when I was six years old and it will probably be close to the way I am when I am 60 years old. Because that’s pretty close to the real me.

And I can be that real me in any career. I can lay in bed all day and never work a day in my life and I will still be the real me. A broke version of the real me, but nonetheless. Which leads me to the next reason I am crying.

Reason 2: Someone has to do the jobs you don’t want to?
Last year, I was driving from Michigan to Nashville with my mom and two friends. My friend Ryan was driving us and Ryan flew past a giant raised black Dodge Ram 1500 on the highway and I yelped, “That’s my dream car!” 

Ryan exclaimed, “THAT’S your dream car? Come on Carlee, dream bigger!”

We argued and I told him “I don’t want a tiny fancy car. I like big beautiful trucks that I need a ladder to get in to.”

This sparked something in Ryan about how people don’t dream big enough. You see, Ryan is a professional football player in the NFL. To him, he is living his dream. Because I am impatient, I interrupted him. We argued about how everyone can in fact have this dream life, but not everyone wants to be a professional athlete. I told him someone out there thinks it would be great to be able to do something as simple as run a grocery store. Ryan and I argued on the same side of the issue, and it was evident we were stuck in a car for eight hours and getting antsy. But we both understood that you don’t have to have the job you hate. (Not forever at least, but that’s another topic)

We have a million different career options, and believe it or not, there are people who like to be accountants. I don’t know how many of these people were dropped on their heads as children, but I do know that most of the accountants I know love it. 

Yes, someone does have to do those jobs you don’t want to and that’s great! Because I do not want to be a football player and guess what? Someone does! You don’t want to sit and write for hours? You hated papers in college? GREAT! Because that was not me at all!

But that does not mean you have to do the job you hate. It means someone else may be happy to do the job you don't want to.

So, let this be my first negative feeling of a negative book review. I hope that one day when I have a book on Amazon that this is the type of negative review I get. The type of negative review that doesn’t insult me the same way I was insulted in middle school. It’s the type of negative review that reminds us we have a lot to talk about still. One book won’t fix the whole world, but I know judging by my run on sentence about my calling above, this book caused me to rethink what I was “called” to.

And if this lady wants a hug, I’ll give her a hug. Somehow?

The girl who taught me to dream

She told me she wanted to join Hillsong Worship one day. In a high school math class, as we did problems and mumbled that we would never need to know these equations again, she told me her dreams. 

I barely knew Lauren then, but this conversation had stuck with me long past any memory of anything math related we learned that year.

I was well-versed in dreams in high school, but mostly how they die. How one gets a dream at a young age, only to have the world explain, ever so gently and over time that these dreams drift away into realities. 

Those realities shouldn’t have had an effect on me. I spent most of my senior year tracking my boyfriend’s NHL draft predictions and watching from the stands in a hockey arena as each weekend got him closer to draft day. His dream in the making before our high school graduation.

But in a roundabout way, he re-iterated the fact that these dreams can fade. He reminded me constantly that he may not get drafted in the first-round, he took to heart what forums were saying in the mock-drafts. And when draft day came, we shared looks across the table with each passing pick until he was chosen farther down than we had hoped for. 

I faked enthusiasm, I faked hope for him, but I knew that this was the start of the flicker in both of our eyes fading. At eighteen years old, it shouldn’t have been this hard to hold on to a dream.

But Lauren told me her dreams, and then ducked her head and focused on her pencil hitting the paper in math class that day. She wrote strong and hard even when doing calculus problems. I faked a smile and faked a support, and still can't remember if I just rolled my eyes in my head, or if I actually did it in real life.

Few dreams left our town. And the dreams that stayed were small. We followed the same path the graduating class before us did. 

My head was in the opposite of the clouds. And as Lauren was so sure that she was going to one day travel across the world to sing with the Hillsong Worship, the same music that we grew up memorizing every Sunday during church, my only reaction I knew was to doubt.

Years later, while avoiding homework in my college dorm room, I looked Lauren up on Facebook. She was in Australia, home of Hillsong and she was doing it. 

Years after that, having only noticed her life from a Facebook News Feed, she sat next to me again in a different city than our shared hometown. In our new home of Nashville. Both doing the things we may have daydreamed about while doing math problems in high school. 

I had forgot to dream back then. I had been shown not to dream. And I'd like to think that conversation in high school somehow kick-started that dreamer I had forced down for so long to be brought back up again.

God planted this wide-eyed girl next to me seven years ago, and God must have known that this one conversation would stick. Now, they call me the dreamer, and I smile and remember when I had met my first dreamer, too. 

[Plug- Lauren is now "doing the music thing" full time in Nashville (under the name Fleurie) and has a show March 26 put on my Cause A Scene. Or she's on Spotify which is where I creepily listen to her while I text her about puppies]