A (Tough) Love Letter To People Who Expect the World From Themselves

It is time to snap out of it

Ria Tagulinao


Carolina Parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis), Study for Havell pl. no. 26, ca. 1825, John James Audubon. (New-York Historical Society) | Source

Do you sometimes tend to demand too much from your speck of a human self?

Come, let us knock some sense into you. And me.

(If you’re special and free from excessive self-expectation and thus probably not from this world, then k, congrats! we hate you! bye!)

Now I know that, as a letter to myself, this may be very specific to my writing life. But that was my intention: to illustrate exactly how and why one’s expectations from one’s self can simply be unreasonable.

It is time to snap out of it.

Dear self,

I know you’re very much committed to your writing as an artistic pursuit. I know you want every single thing you ship to feel or seem like art. And I respect that!

But I’m sorry to break it to you.


You know why?

Remember The Birds of America by John James Audobon? That beautiful, big-ass sketchbook with an intricately painted bird in its habitat that you saw in the New York Public Library? As you learned in the description, it took Audobon twelve years to complete that.

Remember when you were writing this newsletter and you found out that it took Alfred Lord Tennyson, the poet to whom we owe the famous line “It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all”, seventeen — seventeen! — years to finish his masterpiece from which the aforementioned line was taken?

Every Pixar movie takes about five years to create. Your all-time favorite personal essay on Medium that you’ve read a dozen times? It took the author “seven months and 10,000 words scrapped” to finish it. Your birthday essay from last year which you consider your personal best so far? You wrote that for a whole month — and had been mulling it over for much longer!

See what I’m tryna say?

Art. takes. TIME.

When you feel like haven’t been able to make much *art*, it’s not you.




Ria Tagulinao

Fun-sized Filipina Writer | To stay up-to-date with my work, here's my Sunday newsletter: http://riatagulinao.substack.com