Since the moment I was scratched into existence with a mix of phthalo green, van dyke brown, and midnight black, everyone comes up to me and says, “Aren’t you that happy little tree from the Bob Ross painting?” I just smile and nod politely, too tired to tell them how I really feel.

Everyone thinks they know me and my story ever since they saw me standing majestically in the foreground of a snow-covered mountain. That may have been me at one point, but that was years ago. They don’t know that my wife left me, my kids won’t talk to me, I got passed over for another promotion at work and my landlord refuses to fix the broken water heater.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not always unhappy, and at times I am actually happy. But when your whole existence is based on Bob Ross calling you a “happy little tree,” people automatically associate you with that. But I’m not mad at Bob. I’ve shared these feelings with him before he passed, rest his soul, and he was always understanding. Whenever I told him I just felt like a huge mistake, he would just smile at me and say, “There are no mistakes, just happy little accidents.” Not entirely sure how that was supposed to make me feel totally better since it almost sounded like he was saying his painting me was an accident, but I appreciated his spirit.

A lot has changed ever since Bob made me. I had to try a variety of careers before I found what I wanted to do. At first, I wanted to be a firefighter, but it turns out that PBS didn’t pay Bob enough to use non-flammable paints. I then thought I could try to be a bartender, but drunks spilling alcohol everywhere is just asking for my oil-based pastels to run everywhere.

There were many other stops along the way that didn’t work out; surgeon (I don’t have hands), politician (people don’t find me relatable on the account I’m a painted tree) and for a while, I even tried to get seasonal work as a Christmas tree (but I’m not an evergreen). Eventually, I found my way to an office doing mindless work. The job itself is ok, if I can get past the fact that I work with a lot of paper. You do know where paper comes from, right? Yeah, imagine you took a job where you constantly had to be handling dried pieces of flesh. You’d be depressed too, and I can’t even drink or smoke to dull the pain (I’m flammable, remember?). That’s why my wife and kids left me. She’s a beautiful sycamore and she’ll find better, I’m sure of it.

I’m sorry, I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining. I know other people have it worse. For example, Bob’s paintbrushes still can’t get any steady employment. It turns out that when people constantly hear Bob say he’s going to “beat the devil out of the brush” as he cleaned it they took it much more literally than intended. Those guys have it so rough they can’t even get a job as a model warning people what their brushes would look like if they aren’t ever cleaned. If you can’t get a career looking like garbage, I don’t know how to help you.

If you take only one thing away from this conversation, it's that if you see me, ask me how I’m doing. Don’t just assume. Take the time to get to know me as a tree. I’m always willing to talk. You might find out there’s more to celebrity than what you see on your TV.