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.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hello, Ireland? It's Me Again.

In my last post, I mentioned that I've been dreaming lately of a cottage in Ireland (or something similar).  That thought eventually spiraled into me just thinking of Ireland in general, which obviously meant I then had to go through all of the pictures I've taken while there, which led to this post.

There you go.  That's how I create.  Just in case you ever wanted to know (but why would you?).

Anyway, when I was a kid, the final project for Mr. Cloud's sixth grade history class was to choose a country, any country, do some research on it at the local library--this was so way before the internet that it hurts my brain to even think about it -- and give a short presentation to the class.  I chose Ireland.  I don't know what made me choose this small spit of land halfway around the world -- I think it had something to do with a picture I saw once.  It just looked so beautiful, so far away, so green.

That assignment is when Ireland became my first Big Dream.  As far as I was concerned, Ireland (and eventually Cape Cod) was the only place I ever wanted to go.  Like, ever.

During the last semester of my freshman year in college, I noticed a study abroad opportunity in a department that I was considering majoring in.  The program, which would focus on human rights and history, would take students to Belfast, Northern Ireland, where they would stay at the local university, study The Troubles and travel around the six counties.  Quietly, without telling anyone, I applied to go on the trip.  A few weeks later, I got a phone call at work letting me know I'd been accepted.  I think I called everyone I knew and told them.

I took Nate back there a few years ago, though we spent most of our time in Dublin and County Clare.  I wanted him to see this place, knowing it would help him to understand just a bit more about me.  What that is, I can't tell you.  I still don't fully understand what draws me to this place time and time again.  But something does.  There are only a handful of places that I've traveled to so far that just fit, and Ireland is definitely one of them.  Why do some places call us more than others?  Why do we dream about them?  Think about them all the time?

If anyone has Ireland stories of their own -- or maybe places we should visit the next time we're there -- I'd love to hear them!

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Belief in Naming

I've been thinking a lot about naming the things I want.  Naming the Big Dream.  Naming the type of relationship I want to have with my health and body.  Naming the kind of person I want to be so as to better understand the direction I need and want to take my life in.

And then doing.

There's something to be said about putting your dreams out there into the Universe, right?  Something about manifesting intentions and positive energy?  (I can use these words because I live in California, obviously).

I don't have any concrete proof that all this works, but I'm going to put my faith in it because, in the end, what do I really know about how the Universe works?

So here's a dream of mine that I haven't been able to get out of my head lately:

I want to spend time in retreat.  Not retreating from something or someone, but rather, retreating into something.  My creativity, actually.  I want to spend a week, two weeks, even a month at some hideaway.  In my head, this is usually a cottage in Ireland like the one I stayed in on my last trip there, or somewhere in Mendocino County because it's one of my favorite places in California, or somewhere in the islands or mountains of Washington State.  A small town, a village, a country road.  Somewhere quiet and simple.  Somewhere cozy, where all I'll ever want to do is be there.  I want to sit at a table or in a really comfy chair and just write.  I want to be free of all the distractions and excuses I usually put in front of myself (though I have a sneaking suspicion they'll probably follow me anywhere, but I want to be able to rely on something other than my own willpower--like maybe the fact that there's just nothing else to do--to get my ass in gear).

I just want a place to be for a minute, and I'd like some fresh air.  Some different air.

So, Universe?  If this little dream could just, you know, manifest, that would be awesome.  But in the meantime, I'll see what I can do about this on my end too.
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