So, here's a thing. · 2:17pm
"Parties... are a terrible thing.
"Before you say anything—I grew up is Las Pegasus. I know my way around a party. It's not like I've only been to terrible parties before this, and so have this... crazy, mixed-up view of what parties are. I know full well they're supposed to be fun. I've had a hoof in making them fun, for thousands of ponies. When you're in the balloon-animal game, there's no shortage of work in Pegas, right?
"But... the City of Flights changes things. Nopony doesn't have fun in Pegas. So when ponies show up at your parties, and they are delighted by the balloon hat, or the balloon spear, or the balloon replica of Princess Celestia... sure, it makes you feel good. But then the worm creeps in.
"The worm? Um.
"I guess... it's the feeling that ponies enjoying themselves isn't good enough. You want to be epic. You want to be this amazing presence who commands respect wherever he goes. You don't want to produce parties, you want to be known as the pony who produces parties. To hang out with the high rollers, the Objectively Better Ponies, at the VIP lounge at Gladmane's.
"And that's the thing that eats you up. Once you don't let your parties be about themselves, once you start seeing them as needing to uphold this brand, this reputation of quality you have going on, once you stop celebrating the fact that ponies are having fun and start worrying that the next mistake will be the one that exposes you as the rank amateur you know you are inside... well.
"You're never going to always be the best. Not even if you try your hardest. And it gets harder and harder to try your best as you hate your parties more and more by seeing only what they are not.
"That... darn Cheese pony.
"That's a pony who knows what's going on. He pulls fun out of midair, like a magician pulling doves out of his sleeve. That's when it really went wrong. To see him at work, headlining the greatest bashes in Pegas... to see him do everything you dream of doing, without even breaking a sweat... that's the hardest thing to take.
"It makes you hate your stupid balloon animals. Never mind how happy they've made the little fillies and colts over the years. All you can see, every time you work, is that you will never be Cheese Sandwich, no matter how hard you try. It's at that point you become an adhered-point balloon—
"Sorry, professional reference. You're a balloon who's lost a little section of its protective cornstarch. It doesn't slide any more. It sticks. And once it starts sticking, it starts rubbing. And the latex gets thinner and thinner. You look fine on the outside, but you're secretly ready to burst. All it takes is one little rub—the pony might not even mean it to hurt!—one little rub to say that maybe you're past your prime, or have been coasting on reputation, or are fine for what you are but are certainly no Cheese Sandwich—and pop!
"You stop asking for advice, stop talking with your friends. Any work that you do is done in the course of a minute or two, slapdash. You lie to yourself and say that these are just spontaneous little exercises to keep your creativity working. Truth is, they're all you can even do. If you even stop to work carefully for a second, stop to consider what you're doing in the interest of putting out good product, the sheer ugly monstrousness of your project overwhelms you and you just... give up.
"And so you get worse and worse because you can't stand to do the thing you thought you loved for more than a few seconds at a time, and because you get worse and worse you hate what you do more and more and it never gets better."
A silent moment.
"There are ponies who would you should keep trying," she says. "Keep throwing yourself against that wall. Celebrate your failures as elements in the great cycle of always getting better, always learning anew."
"Ponies have said that exact thing to me," I admit. "I didn't listen."
"Good," she purrs. "They're wrong, you know. They don't know the truth that I know, and that you suspect. You waste yourself by playing a broken game. You'd be like... like that cartoon pony trying to kick the hoofball that the girl pony just always pulls away. Is that still a thing? I have to admit I've been away for a while."
"It is still a thing," I confirm.
"You're in a great deal of pain."
My lip quivers. "It's terrible to have a purpose in life and to hate it," I say.
She raises her staff.
"I can help," she says.