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Friday, June 5, 2009

Little Fish, Big Sea

Written by Lee

In high school, I wasn't the super-popular chick, the homecoming queen, the lead in the musical, the track team star, the valedictorian or anything spectacular like that.  But even though I wasn't THE best, let's just say I was one of the best.   

I was known by many, attended the homecoming dance, played many supporting roles in theater, ran the back stretch of the 4 x 100 relay team that competed in the state meet placing fourth, and my graduating GPA placed me like 10th out of class of near 600.  

I felt, I guess you could say, like a big fish in a little sea.  But I didn't even realize the sea was little then.  In retrospect I guess I felt like a big fish in a big sea.  

I remember pretty darn vividly what it felt like to go from my high school in Phoenix with my list of semi-decent achievements and enter my freshmen year at the University of Southern California. To leave a campus of over two thousand and walk around a campus of like thirty thousand

It didn't take me much longer than sitting in on a few of the classes in the college honors program that I somehow qualified for to realize uh, I'm not that smart.

I thought I wanted to major in drama, but after an acting class or two, I realized I'm not that talented. 

And even though I played four years of competitive soccer at USC, I realized even there, I'm not that good. 

It all hit me like a ton of bricks a few months into my freshmen year.  

I am totally and utterly average.  

Sure, there were plenty of people below me in a variety of ways, but there were also a bazillion people above me, ahead of me, just uh, bigger than me.

And with a huge dry gulp, I began my lifelong journey as a little fish

In a big, deep, thrashing, never-ending sea.

I've been reflecting on this big fish idea as I've cruised around in recent weeks reading all kinds of posts from what I would call bigger fish in the blogworld expressing feelings of disappointment and confusion as to where their community was heading with the onslaught of new blogs on the scene that focus on, I guess, the business side of mommy-blogging as opposed to the creative side of it.  I know that's boiling it down to one particular angle but it seems that's the general point of the stuff I've read. I've tried to understand where they're coming from, I really have, but I just don't get it.  

The way it seems to me is that, to put it simply, the sea is getting bigger and with all of these little fish swimming around, it's just tougher to be a big fish.  

Feeling like a big fish is cool.  It seems part of human nature to want to harness that big fish feeling.  Easier to swim amidst all those choppy waves.  

But when it all shakes down in the end, we all are little fish.  And I kinda wish we could all swim around together a little more peacefully.  

When I look at my three little ones cruising around in their small worlds, I am reminded of the natural transition that occurs as our brains twist and grow and we come to the intellectual realization someday that we are simply a pebble of sand on the beach of life.  

But emotionally, that's the rough part.  I think it's hard to wrap your heart and feelings around the fact that in the sea of life the one person that's really gonna care the most about you and make you feel like a big fish, even though you're not, is you.  But I think that's the truth.

There is so much in the current online social structure that is screaming at the part of us that innately yearns to be a big fish.  Again, the awards and the numbers and the followers.  Yada yada yada.  And not that long ago when the sea was much much smaller, it was a hell of a lot easier it seems to feel well, like a big fish.  

Now, I want to be clear.  I totally acknowledge the pioneers of this field.  The ones who paved the way and began settling the wild west of parent blogging.  I feel anyone who has been blogging since 2004 or earlier is one of those pioneers.  And right on to you.  And I don't even think you're average. You are actually way above average in my book. You harnessed an idea early on, created a community and became a sea of voices.  It's just getting a little harder to hear your voice with the rising din of all these fishy fins splashing around.

Basically the landscape is a' changing.  As it always does.  

Sometimes when I'm driving on the jam-packed freeways of Los Angeles with red brake lights and white headlights as far as the eye can see in all directions, I wonder how these gazillion drivers stuck behind their wheels think about their place in the grand scheme of things? Are they still holding out some hope that somewhere, someway, somehow, they will be a big fish? Even though the reality of their little fish existence is smacking them right in the middle of the forehead just beyond their windshield?

I look through the traffic and feel grateful that I already know I'm a little fish.  I had my revelation years ago and even though there have been times in my life when that big fish feeling came flooding into my being, I knew it was fleeting.  

It always is.

And really.  I'm totally and utterly fine with being a little fish.



  1. Very astute and wise post Lee!

    I totally get being fine with being one of the little fish and I'm fine with it too.

    Like you, I had that revelation, many moons ago.

    For me, my blogging is to provide myself and hopefully others with a chuckle, smile, or if I'm really lucky...with a laugh.

    It's a creative outlet for me.

    But, it is hard not to get caught up in the numbers game. I appreciate my followers. And sometimes when I read another person's blog and I see that they have two hundred, three hundred, or close to six hundred followers?

    I'm amazed! Good for them. I really am happy for them. But then I find myself questioning myself and my, ahem, "littler" number of followers.

    I just have to remember for me, this is NOT a business, it is a fun and hopefully humorous outlet for me. I admit that I am trying to hone my writing and comedic skills as well. That gives me a substantial goal in my head.

    Thanks Lee for keeping it real and here's to another little fish from another little fish!

    Glub, glub!

    BTW, Lee. You soooo rock it woman!

  2. Allright Lee - if YOU'RE not a big fish, what does that make me??? Small than a small fish...

    A Guppy?

    You're drowning my dreams in reality, my friend. I guess I always STILL think I'm on the verge of something really, really big. Something that will help my kids see me as this woman of true accomplishments -
    something that they can measure and brag about to their friends...
    something more than my ability to drag myself out of bed and shepherd them safely (and hopefully happily) through each and every day.

    The more I live in this everyday kid world, I see my former view of myself eroding, especially in the eyes of my 14 yr old daughter (sigh) -BUT, I still have that little piece of me I'm determined not to let die, that creative and blunt spirit that is grateful for a small, very small outlet provided to me by my dear girlfriend, Lee. If there are places like this (no matter how small) that keep us dreamers from completely giving up and imploding, then its worth it, right?

    "I'm not a guppy..."

    Love you for this post, Lee and for this blog - otherwise what's a small fish without a blog to do...:)

  3. hey! that can be our spin-off blog... SFWOB (small fish without blogs).

    i guess i have the luxury of having lived my entire life thus far as a small fish. no brushes with fame or glory or even career fulfillment. i gave up nothing to have a family and aspired to even less pre-child.

    so i am staking my claim as the expert small fish of the sea. the queen of the guppies. and the good news is, the view of the ocean is quite lovely way over here. i can make mistakes without notice, i can take a wrong turn without the glare of the spotlight and grow, ever so slightly, at my own slllooww pace.

    glad you all could join me.

  4. I'm fascinated by this post right now.

    The relevance and timeliness are absolutely amazing. I can't even begin to express that to you.

    It's like you are completely inside my head right now, and that's cool. It's quite spacious in there...

  5. I'm with Deb. I've never been more than average (aka little fish) so I'm sure that's the way I'll stay. Happily swimming about, playing with my other fishy buddies.

  6. I really liked the way you expressed yourself in this post. But I do think it would be healthier all around if we overcome this feeling of big fish/little fish completely. I have never assumed that numbers were the true barometer of worth. Do you only go to movies that are in the top three in the box office? But I do think you are right about the fear that some have about the doors opening.

  7. I love being a little fish as long as I am surrounded by my great "school" of friends and family, what else could a girl want?!

  8. Average is extremely underrated.

    Average is usually a hardworking, honest, put-the-hardhat-on-and-get-your-fanny moving kind of person.

    I believe an exceptional person is just an average person who understands that even little fish can make a big difference in everyday things. Holding the door for a stranger, smiling at the waitress, treating people with respect, raising their children to be good, God (whatever that means to you) fearing adults.

    Big fish might get the glory (or the followers, sheeple, whatever), but little fish make the world go round.

    I'm with Deb, our slice of the ocean is very nice and calm, and I love that.

  9. I agree with Em. Being above average is hightly over-rated.

    This (to quote a much overquoted line) is as good as it gets.

  10. I love being a little fish. That's the truth. I don't know any other way.

  11. What I wanted to say was that we're all Big Ass Bass in our OWN little seas.

    Although I can't say that I feel like a big frickin' fish lately... feelin' more like a damn small fish in my own small sea.

    Did any understand that at all?

  12. It's kind of peaceful to be a guppy! :D I like the idea of respecting those great ones before us, and the rest of us just floating around...not so much pressure...great post Lee!

  13. I'm okay with being a little fish as long as it's one with really big teeth.

    Can I be a pirahna? ;)

  14. I am beyond satisfied with being a little fish. ;-)

    And you, of course, are magnificent at putting feelings and thoughts into words.

  15. I'm a guppy. I love writing, and frankly am htrilled that anyone reads, and more thrilled when I get a comment (little bit of wanting to be a big fish). And yes, the evolution of the mommy blog world is fascinating as it moves to a revenue model, gaming the system by setting up syndicates of followers, commenters, etc. But content will always stand out. Yours is so much more than average!

  16. Loving this post.

    I'm a little fish for sure... a bitchy snarky little fish with sharp teeth.

  17. As a way below average little fish, I love this post.

    I started blogging back in 05, but then dropped it to resurface in 07 and start meeting a real community. Sure the commenters and the followers are a thrill... but at the end of the day it's the feeling of coming up with a great post, and having felt that you touched even one person, that keeps it real for me.

  18. Hmmm...I have never thought of myself as a fish...more like a cat;P

  19. How ironic I actually killed my fish this week. OOPS. Loved the post!

  20. I am cool with being a little fish. I blog for me. I write what I want. If anyone wants to read it, that's flattering, and I love the sense of community that comes from comments. If no one but me reads it, that's okay too. I read lots of blogs by witty, funny women (and men). There is a nice sense of connectedness to the larger world through blogging. I like to think of myself as a Paedocypris progenetica swimming with the Basking sharks.
    (Check this link out to decode that!

  21. Wow, your post really gave me a lot to think about! I was nodding my head through out it, saying "yes, that's me" and then it helped give me a new perspective of looking at my children and the fish they are. Living in various places around the world and participating in activities in small groups and large groups has definitely been an eye-opener for me. Although it was fun to feel like a big fish for awhile in high school, I'm grateful for the realization I had in college and grad school that I'm a little fish, we all are, and it's humbling but special because it helps us appreciate what makes us unique. We may be average but what makes us different is what we love about ourselves. Thanks for a terrific post! I absolutely love this site!!

  22. I love your fish analogy.

    Graduating 150th out of 300 I never had excellent grades in High School. I strove to improve my studying skills and was pretty happy when I graduated College with a 4.5 on a 5 point scale.

    I sometimes feel that I am quite average (or at least I do not stand out). Sometimes I wish I had that big-fish feeling, but that at least gives me something to strive towards (much like I did with my grades in school).

  23. Hi, I really enjoyed this criticism on the big fish is very interesting, thanks for sharing the info!


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