The Internet is a pretty cool place. It gave us hamsters eating tiny burritos, unique languages that allow us to imagine what dogs and cats would sound like if they could talk and a Twitter account for The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik)--the Web's single greatest achievement, if you ask me.
Through a series of inspirational Pinterest quotes and Upworthy videos, the Internet has also given many of us the drive to be epic. Each day we are reminded to live deliberately, eat like we give a damn and, most importantly, be amazing. We have the means to literally change the world -- we can create petitions that go straight to the White House, and we can spread news stories that would otherwise be ignored with a click of a button. We also have access to a world that can make us feel completely inadequate for being less than epic.
Recently I found myself curled up on my living room ottoman, confessing through tears to my husband, Tony, that I might not be destined for greatness after all. The Internet lied to me. I tried really hard to be epic -- working 16-hour days as a marketing director, writing a book, saying "yes" to absolutely everything anyone asked me to do, refusing to go to bed without clearing my inbox ... And I ended up in the hospital with a pulmonary embolism. Epic fail.
My heart stopped in my sleep during my first night in the hospital. My first thought after being jolted back to consciousness was, "No! I can't die without making my mark!" A moment of shame washed over me as I realized I'd put "doing something" before everything else -- again. You'd think this health crisis would cause me to be all "Keep Calm and Carry On," but instead I was all "We Shall Overcome!" I went directly back to my pursuit of epicness.
A few nights ago, I was pre-worrying that the second book I haven't written yet wouldn't do well, bombarding Tony with "What if?" scenarios about my possible failure. "Then don't write it, who cares?" he asked, clicking away at his PlayStation controller with zero worries about being epic. "I do! I have to do something with my life!" He stopped playing, looked me dead in the eyes and asked, "What part of living your entire life so far has been not doing something?"
As the tears burned down my face I felt the weight of potential epicness lift from my chest. What started as an ugly-cry of failure turned into tears of relief. Tony is a genius. There should be a "Sensible Tony" meme. "You can do anything" means you can do any thing -- even if it's not amazing. And that is amazing. I went to bed that night with 31 unread emails and didn't give a single crap. There aren't many viral videos about chill people who live quiet lives, but they're out there. And they're happier than a hamster eating a tiny burrito. I intend to be one of them.
Natalie Slater is a RedEye special contributor. She is probably wearing pajama pants right now.
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