Seriously, I don't know when guilt first got its hold on me, but I do remember feeling guilty as early as kindergarten. The incident? I mixed up the names of two of my fellow five-year-olds.
The reason I bring this up is because I can't even read a magazine without becoming guilt-ridden. I was having a lovely Saturday coffee and magazine morning, reading the July-August copy of More magazine with Kyra Sedgewick, the lovely star of television's The Closer on the cover.
I'm a pretty polite reader. I start at the first page of a magazine and work my way through to the last page. (I was raised to be polite and not leave anyone out.) I smile to myself as I read something amusing or just interesting: "Japan, where the country's second-largest airline, ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS, announced it would offer designated women-only toilets on its flights." I smile, remembering my last flight where I used the restroom right after one of the pilots, distressed to find he'd left the nasty, heavily used toilet seat up.
I skim the list of summer reading suggestions, even skimming the full page ad for shoes adjacent.
The book list makes me talk to myself: Now why are you not writing something? You love to write, you should try to get something published. You spent all that money going to Mount Hermon's Writers Conference, and still you are not writing. What is wrong with you? The shoe ad for Sketcher's Shape-Ups merely causes me to mock, it's gonna take a lot more than a shoe to shape YOU up!
I look at the page of "must-have" handbags. Again, my Guilt-Voice interrupts. Why do you have all that stuff to make handbags to sell on Etsy and still haven't done it?
I see an ad for feminine protection telling me "What you're wearing is so last year." This at least is a choice I can feel no guilt about, I tell myself, thanks to that handy emergency hysterectomy back when I still wanted to have more kids. Then I notice the "protection" is for bladder leakage. Crap--I really should be doing those Kegels...
Why do I do this to myself? The article on "This is what 55 looks like," picturing a low-jean wearing lean woman my age(ish) causes me to berate myself for being overweight; the article on women who after 40 started second (and of course incredibly successful) careers farming olives, or organic meats and vegetables, or sheep to sell the fleeces, only serves to make me question my own lack of risk taking and dream following. Even the name of the magazine screams at me: "MORE" i should do more!
For this reason I think I shall avoid magazines named things like "SHAPE" and "SELF." Waaay too much to feel guilty about there.
Skimmer's Recap: When predisposed to feeling guilty about your life, your looks, your health, look for magazines with names like "GOOD ENOUGH."