I would love to gloss over yesterday's failures for you and chalk them up to being tired, but I'm not sure that is entirely it. Learning how to accept today for what it is and what it holds -- not for what it isn't and doesn't -- is an incredibly difficult endeavor. It requires trusting that you are on the right course but also realizing that not everything that affects us is within our control or power. That is to say, we have a responsibility to create our own happiness in spite of what happens to us. In that scenario the happiness is the guarantee; not favorable circumstances.
All of that is easier said than done, but I have realized that the real problem I'm having with this year-long project is that I'm not sure I'm okay with who I am today. I mean, I definitely am in theory and on paper. I can look at my circumstances objectively and find plenty to be proud of. LIkewise, I can examine how I spend my time, money and energy in relation to what I as a person truly value, and I can find much to take pride in. But when it comes to really believing that who I am is enough -- and that, because it is, I don't have to worry that I haven't accomplished all of my professional goals yet or that I don't yet have a shiny object that signifies a lifelong commitment on my ring finger -- I'm not there yet.
The truth of the matter is, I spend far too much time worrying about whether I measure up to others' standards and comparing myself to others. I'm not proud of this and, more importantly, these constant comparisons I make aren't even conscious. Furthermore, those comparisons are based on not just arbitrary but unwritten standards. Thus, I am capable of spending inordinate amounts of time thinking about whether I should be in possession of x or be able to say that I've done y, when no one is grading me on a curve where x is the standard and I'm not even sure that y is society's goal for me in the end.
How preposterous is this?
And so it is that I read Nathalie's post today entitled, "Eyes on your own paper, y'all." She's discussing her own tendency to compare her accomplishments to others', and she says this: "At a young age I learned to compare myself to others and catalogue where I didn’t measure up and then use that as as evidence of my unworthiness. That type of chronic thinking landed me on a therapist’s couch... Luckily I realized there has got to be a better way to live this one, short, precious life than by going around counting the ways I suck." [emphasis hers]
Did you catch that? She learned to compare herself to others, take note of where they were 'better' and then chide herself for not being good enough. And so did I. My whole life I've never been 'enough' in my own mind because I wasn't judging me by my own capabilities, values and standards. And so, while this year is about taking care of myself, being content with who and where I am at this point in time, and growing in some small way on a day-by-day basis, it's really about loving myself. Because if I don't value myself in that way, I won't see the need to take care of myself, won't be able to live for today and enjoy this moment or grow day-to-day because I will be consumed with where I should be in relation to someone else. How disastrous!
I'm not going to beat myself up for yesterday, then. Yes, I fell back into judging myself by someone else's standards and not being true to myself and my own happiness. But you can't be shamed into loving yourself. You can only be lovingly coaxed into seeing the beauty within your own soul and the power within your own mind, as well as reminded that what everyone else thinks about you doesn't matter. I'm coaxed and reminded: there are plenty of reasons to love me.
#330: Fantastic, fancy dinner with Mr. Wonderful on Tuesday night.
#331: Fantastic, opposite-of-fancy dinner with Mr. Wonderful last night.
#332: This beautiful column from Cary Tennis about the unfortunate effects of unemployment on one's mental health. (I can attest to this.)