The downside...well, I hardly even have to explain that do I? Guilt, fear, self loathing, stuck on a hamster wheel of critical introspection that does not allow for any real forward motion...an under-achieving over achiever all bound up in thwarted expectation.
Knowing both sides of this equation, I work on it from a few different angles. For example I work on accepting "good enough". This is a hugely difficult concept for me! When I attempt something, whether it be art, parenting, dealing with the school, planning one of my projects etc, and inevitably fail to meet standards of perfection in some way, rather than turning inward with a litany of all my shortcomings (because O how I love to dissect every move and every conversation with an exhaustive list of should haves!) I can just file it under "good enough" and walk away. A liberating concept all oozing with common sense and stuff, right? But bloody hard to do! For me at least.
So I stumble my way through my day to day life, trying not to beat myself to a pulp over every mistake, managing to put some things in the "good enough" file and waking up at 3:00 am with a blush and a start over others, but knowing myself better all the time, and you know...doing OK, enjoying my life, even being pleased with myself here and there.
BUT there is still this underlying current of overachiever's angst that runs through my sub conscious. What have I done? Where have I gone? What am I contributing? I get a little jealous pang when I hear of people travelling to far flung places. Feel a little wistful when I hear of this or that grand career success (and the dollars that come with it...I admit it is mostly the $$$ that make me feel wistful). Get a little defensive about the fact that I never finished University or am "just" a SAHM.
BUT (another but, does the second but cancel the first? Double negative = a positive or something like that?) in moments when I look at my life with the utmost clarity and deep-hearted truthfulness, I know I am right where I am supposed to be. I have everything I ever wanted (all the big things, the profound things). I see myself in my last moments feeling such gratitude for this time, and the only regret, if any, would be that I was too worried and guilty and should have just enjoyed it more.
So what gives? Why the angst?
1. That's just the way I'm built. I am an itchy, twitchy, too much in my own head, nerved up, double-triple-thinking kind of gal. I don't find my way to peace easily. The expansive inner self wants to expand, and is questioning, testing and pushing...always.
2. And this has been the entire point of this navel-gazing post, I've got the wrong yardstick. I am measuring myself by some strange arbitrary standard that I've cobbled together in bits and pieces along the way, instead of measuring myself against myself. Many parts of this measuring stick come from societal norms and ideals (what I should have, what I should do), some from my overly religious upbringing (what I shouldn't do, who I should be) and some from other people (my observations of them, or the expectations I've allowed them to foist on me). I would like to think that at 35, and being a smart, emotionally autonomous woman, that I would be free of this kind of crap, but there, right there...is the undeniable undercurrent of "not quite good enough" to prove me wrong. I measure myself by this randomly assembled yardstick, and I fall short. I am an underachiever. I haven't ever really done much, and everything I have done doesn't really count.
When in reality, in my own life measured against where I have been and where I am now,
I am a fucking colossus.
I have slain the dragons, battled demons and been "there and back again" more than once. I have changed who I am with the hand of the deftest sculptor, and painted masterpieces of patience and love and courage with painstaking strokes of thought and word and action. I have every reason to be proud with no reluctance, and no apology. What if instead of wearing underachiever on my chest, I wore "survivor", "addiction conqueror", "tenacious anxiety battler", "redeemer", "life bringer", "dauntless caregiver", "boldly creative maker of cool stuff", "forgiver", "joy finder" or simply "FUCKING COLOSSUS" (I like that, it really has a certain je ne sais quoi to it) on my name tag?
Why am I sharing all this? Why write another one of these awkwardly confessional blog posts? What's the point? (she asks herself as she looks at the clock and realizes that the morning has slipped away)
Because I know that I am not the only one holding the wrong yardstick. Not the only one judging herself by pointless, arbitrary standards and coming up short, and feeling diminished. I bet in your own lives, dear and lovely readers, that if you were holding yard sticks that measure from where you have been to where you are now (and perhaps leave some room for where you are going next), that you are fucking colossuses too.
And I just wanted you to know it.
|Page in the "Impulse" book. I don't love it, but I am filing it under "good enough" and calling it a day.|