This I believe…

For one of my classes in this, my last quarter of business school, my professor asked us to write a This I Believe essay. I wrote two because my first one was about poop (but I turned both in and got a good grade on both, proving my hypothesis that everyone loves poop and poop is hilarious). Anyway. The second one took some serious introspection and, well, here you go. Apologies for the nerdiness; I attend the business school where fun (and geeks) goes to die. Maybe the essay explains my absence? Maybe not? I don’t know. Also, if you’re getting married and can get Smilebooth, do it. I am the photo booth queen.

Regression to the Mean

Nearly two years ago, I was sitting at my best friend’s dining table, my brain fuzzy with joy. It had been the best week of my life. I was two months away from marrying my soul mate. He and I were living with our two best friends for the summer. I had found twenty dollars on the ground. I was skinny. The day before, I had learned I would be going to the #1 business school in the country. And that morning, another unexpected call, this one from New York: I was being given a book deal. A big one.

I sat at the dining table, wondering what to do with myself. Nobody was home to squeal and jump around with me. I remember looking down at my hands and feeling oddly detached from them and the rest of my body.

Suddenly, I was gripped with overwhelming panic. This was too good. Way too good. Irrationally, I began to fear I’d used up all of my good luck in life. Regression toward the mean – this week’s fortunes would have to be offset by something else, later.

How could I show my gratitude to the Dude in the sky? Maybe he would take pity on me, and give me only sort-of-bad luck to even things out. A stubbed toe, a broken wine glass, that sort of thing.

Later that evening, when I shared the news with my friends and fiancé, we clapped and cheered and jumped around the room like wild monkeys. Another stroke of luck for me: I was surrounded by people who loved me, who were genuinely happy for my serendipity.

The next few months passed in a whirlwind of happiness. I got married, I began business school, I finished the first draft of my book. I somehow managed to stay skinny. We brought home a new puppy, Baxter, and I discovered the unbridled joy and hilarity that come with owning a dog. I got a job.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, though, I kept thinking about regression toward the mean. How could I stay grateful for this unprecedented happiness?

It has been a really bad year. My parents have gone through an ugly divorce. My husband’s family – now my beloved family - experienced frightening health scares. Both of my grandfathers have been in and out of the hospital. I got a bad grade in Investments. Every time I give my dog a bath, he takes a revenge dump on the floor. I got into a wreck in an uninsured car. I gained twenty pounds. Some days I’m so overwhelmed by egocentric self-pity that I can’t force myself to get out of bed.

Now I’m counting on that regression toward the mean. I don’t actually believe some guy is sitting up there in the sky making sure nobody exceeds their allotted amount of bliss. But here’s what I do believe: life regresses to the mean. And that’s wonderful. In times of great joy, the mean anchors me to earth and keeps me humble. In times of great sorrow, the mean is my life vest, keeping me afloat. And when life just feels average, well, that’s because it is. This I believe. 

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17 Comments to “This I believe…”

  1. I am so sorry, this does indeed explain your absence. If your theory here holds true then your due for a round of crazy fun wild monkey jumping again. Wishing u nothing but the best, thanx for sharing.

  2. you, my dear, need to watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UoMXF73j0c&feature=related

    i’ve also gained 20 pounds, only i haven’t even dated in a year. but it’s okay. things will look up!

  3. I’m so sorry Wiggs. Seriously. Hugs. And I will give you a big one in person soon. :)

  4. This is such a great essay. You are an awesome writer- so smart, funny and clever. Plus, I can relate 100%! Thank you for sharing!

  5. I would like to point out, Wiggs, that the oposite is also true. When things are dumpy, life has a way of balancing itself back out with good things. I keep telling my mom, who is also going through a divorce from my dad after almost 30 years of marrage, the same thing. Like someone else said, you’ve got some sunny skies heading your way.

    Oh, and we ARE totally having a photobooth at our wedding!

  6. Wiggs, I’ve missed you. You write in such a real and poignant way, even when everything isn’t sunshine and butterflies. And, you still manage to fit humor in amongst the pain, which I love. Hang in there, friend. xoxo.

  7. Wiggs! Thanks for sharing your awesome essay. I’m glad to see you here, although I’m sorry for all the things that do indeed explain your absence. Life is all about balance, which (unfortunately) means you’ll get just as much crappy happenings as good happenings. You have a great perspective on it, though. Love it.

  8. I actually used to give this assignment to my students. I loved getting really poignant ones like this one. Beautifully written, honest and very Wiggs. I guess the key to living through the great parts of this theory is not waiting for the other shoe to drop when things are good. Be happy when it’s your time to be happy and revel in it. And when the shoe does drop, know that it’s only temporary. Chin up, chin up! Here’s the a rockin’ year filled with awesomeness.

    Oh, and can you post the poop essay? I’m curious about that one.

  9. please keep writing & sharing; you have a lovely gift.

  10. Is it bad that I wish you weren’t in business school anymore so that you could blog more? I miss your regular blog posts. This one is particularly poignant and I’m sorry for everything you are going through but life is ALL about peaks and valleys. One of my favorite quotes goes something along the lines of “those who fall into the deepest valleys see the light the brightest from the peaks.” (And I’m pretty sure it was Nixon who said this…but I truly believe that it is our time in the shadows that make us really appreciate the bright spots in life.

    Now go back to blogging regularly!!! Seriously!!!!
    ;)

    best,
    Jocelyn

  11. Love. Love, love, love this piece of writing! It, and you – both truly fantastic.

  12. you are a white oprah. your “this i believe” is her “this i know for sure”. and i love you both (but you a little more if you can believe it). i am so glad you have your friends that genuinely love, support and cheer you on as well as such a supportive following here. love, miss and always thinking of you! a big O and a sloppy X to you, lady! oxoxox

  13. I, like everyone else, am thrilled you are back. You are truely missed around these parts. Lovely piece of writing, and lovely outlook on life – much love

  14. Yikes, the Susan & Jay show is no more? I’m so sorry to hear that.

  15. Remember that you have the two most important things in life: 1. Your health and 2. Your husband. Everything else will take care of itself.

  16. oh, wiggs… i thought you might be joking about your parents. sh*t! thank you for sharing your essay. i hope it isn’t too creepy to have strangers commenting on your personal life. hope 2011 is shaping up to be a fabulous year for you. hugs!

  17. I check my google reader every so often to see if you have a new post…come back when you’re ready cause we can’t wait!

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