Monday, November 19, 2012

Ever Have a Crisis of Self-Worth? Me Too.

I've had the topic of this post floating around in my head for a few days now, keeping me up at night reaching for my iPhone so I can surreptitiously record voice memos of ideas or directions to take it in.  Did I want it to be funny so that the heavy tone is somewhat lightened?  Did I want to write it in the third person to give myself a little distance from something that would otherwise leave me feeling vulnerable and, therefore, uncomfortable?  Or how about having it be just a stream-of-consciousness thing -- since this makes absolutely no sense in my head, why should it make any sense when its out of my head, right?

This goes on and on until I'm making myself fucking crazy because it's all still there except I don't know how to give it voice.  Then, on Friday morning (and aren't Friday's the best?), an amazing realization: I need to just let all of that wondering and worrying and self-editing go, and just lay it out there, because that's what I do.  I share things with you through this blog, even though it makes me seem like an insane, insecure person.  Because maybe that's how we connect.  You know?

And then it all came full circle once I thought about it, since the topic I wanted to write about was my need to be perfect, to get approval from others, to find value in myself only if they found value in me too.  I can't pinpoint ever being taught these things, except maybe in a Pavolvian dog sort of way.

You know:
Listen to teacher = get praised
Do what you're told = get good grades
Get good grades = get even more praise
Get into college = make everyone proud
Get into law school = be exceptional
Get a good job = make people prouder still
Do whatever your boss says = get more and more praise

In this sort of way, the system totally works for me.  I've been a fantastic student, a good daughter, a stellar employee.  But in maybe the more important ways, the system has totally failed me.  Because I'll be all of these things and do all of these things at the expense of myself, and my self-esteem.  I've wrapped my self-worth up so completely in what others think of me -- she's at the top of her class; she got straight A's; she's on the Dean's List again; she received a full scholarship; she's so detail-oriented; she's so great at this job -- that when I'm left to my own defenses, I end up lost.

I run myself into the ground in jobs I hate because I know they're the jobs I'm good at, and the last thing I want to do is disappoint my bosses or try things I've never tried before.  I stick to Plan A because it's a sure-thing, a safe, secure path that leads to Success, even after catching a glimpse of Plans B, C and D and recognizing that that's where I want to be instead.  You know, in some ideal world.  I don't take risks because, God, what if I fail?  What would everyone think?  Who would I even be if I didn't succeed at the things I tried to do?

I'm afraid to be wrong because I don't want people to think I'm incapable or incompetent (I shudder.  Seriously, I shudder).  I'm afraid to be creative because there are no rules or guidelines, nothing to let me know I'm Doing It Right.  I'm afraid to say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, be the wrong way.  I don't take chances because it inherently means there's a chance things will go badly.

And I've been rewarded, for the most part, for being this way, so why change it now?

Well, that's simple, really: because no one should live their entire lives based on what others think or want or value.  And because we're human, so being perfect is impossible.

At least, this is what I'm telling myself.  I'm taking the next month or so to really examine this part of myself, to work on figuring out what it is I want, rather than what I think everyone else wants of/for me.  I need to set up systems, healthy systems, to help me break old habits and come up with new ones.  I need to put those into practice.  I need to spend some time on self-care, even though I think it's a bit woo-woo.  I need to find my own damn worth, sans everybody else.

And I would love any resources or suggestions you may have on getting this all done.

Okay, that's all the soul-baring I can do for now.

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