So I am in an interesting head space lately. I just turned the big Three-O a few months ago and all of a sudden I’m beginning to feel all sorts of social norms and expectations being imposed on me. I am not sure if these feelings are entirely of my own making or if I am indeed picking up on social cues. I have a strong feeling it is a mixture of the two.
For clarity lets get acquainted with some facts that are fueling this fire. By the way this is going to make me cringe while I do this. Because these facts are precisely the parts of me I am far from being proud of. Also, they are the source of the flattening of enjoyment I experience when I meet someone new (a type of experience that I adore(d)). Incidentally these encounters have also become the primary source of the feelings of judgment I am experiencing. But inevitably these facts are necessary points that we discuss with strangers. And often times these are the typical facts we use to size people up to some arbitrary measure of “worthiness”. Because ultimately they do mean something…right?
- Age: I am 30.
- Housing: I have been living with my parents for the past 6 months.
- Occupation: Graduate Student/Misc. Job
- Transportation: I do not have a car.
- Relationship Status: Single.
- Financial Status: Broke AF
First of all let me say what a bizarre feeling this is to reduce myself to these categories. Like I really really hate it. Yes I would love to improve myself in ALL of these areas. Trying to do so is something I find gratifying. However, being measured up by social status indicators alone and not the journey, or the passion, or the effort that is being put into improving myself is truly disheartening. Looking at just the facts I amount to nothing short of a scrub (in the words of TLC). According to this game the only cards I hold are: I am pursuing a degree #ambitions, and my age is something I have no control over #life ;P. However, none of these external validators are constants. And to solely rely on them is detrimental to maintaining mental fitness. This is not a fun way to engage with myself or life. There is so much more to a person than there age, occupation, living arrangement, relationship status, and financial status. And these categories isolated out of the context of the life they belong to are far from the reasons we actually decide to build relationships beyond the first meet and greet with a stranger. That is exactly why even after knowing there is much more to me, I still struggle with shaking the feeling of inadequacy.
I have always sort of done things on my own time. Never really one to be motivated by external pressure. Don’t get me wrong. I definitely feel the anxiety pile up at times. But that usually happens when I get caught up in the comparison game (the most pointless game ever). I guess meeting new people as of late forces the dialogue of comparison in my mind. And it does not resonate well with me at all. And that is because I am not 100 % happy with myself. I can admit that. And when I’m not at my best, like most people, I enjoy the occasional pat on the back in the form of an affirmation from someone other than myself that I am on the “right track”. Walking on the tight rope of external validation can be tricky though: it’s easy to tip right off into the deep end.
The more I look into this dialogue with myself I am quickly becoming very aware of the fact that no one can give me the validation I crave other than myself. People will have there opinions and share them just like I do. But at the end of the day the only two things that should be on my list of concerns in all of this are the following:
- Loving Me, Myself, and I.
- And showing myself compassion in the face of any perceived short coming.
The truth is you and I are already enough. I just need to remember that. Everything else is just embellishment. Do I think life would be more enjoyable if I improved all of the items mentioned in my list above. Definitely! And all I can do is try and try harder. Just not at the expense of loving myself. Loving myself is a much more fun and productive head game to play than the comparison game. And showing compassion to myself is key to healthy self-evaluation and self-improvement. And when I think about it, I only want those in my space that want to bring more love than doubt into my life. As a result of this attitude I find my list of “close friends” dwindling and my social interactions shifting from quantity to quality. It was scary at first. But when I realized this pruning of people in my life was actually a marvelous space for growth I welcomed it with open arms.
I learned that I love myself and the possibilities in life way too much to allow myself to give these insecurities too much significance. I still have days and weeks where I really struggle with applying this mindset. I can only trust and hope that it will get easier. Sometimes I wonder if I will “wake up” in my old age and think “well S%&t, we really messed it up this time around!”. For now I’m hoping that learning how to focus my energy on creating and cultivating the most joy that I can for myself will in time help the rest of the pieces of my life come together in the best way. Let’s see shall we 😉