I don’t know how

Here’s the truth. I want to be perfect. And I want everyone to like me and to see that I’m perfect. Deep down I know I can’t be truly perfect, but I can try, right? And trying takes working really hard, ignoring your own feelings, catering to the desires of others, and not having a life of your own. You still don’t get to perfect, but you can get pretty close sometimes and people tell you how wonderful you are and how much you’ve helped them and you vital you are to the whole damn world. It feels great! And you’re tired and overwhelmed and carrying the responsibilities of everybody and not doing anything for yourself and you don’t even know who you are anymore or what you want, but people like you!

It took me a long time, but I realized that wasn’t exactly healthy and started working really hard at balance and doing things for me and being OK with less than perfect. I thought it was working out OK. But now I’m realizing that I got a lot of my self-worth and self-confidence and self-liking from being vital to the whole damn world. And I’m realizing that I no longer am that vital superwoman who people count on for everything. And all of my self-confidence and self-worth have left me.

Today, I was talking to a manager at work and some of it was regular work career growth stuff and some of it was personal life experience stuff and we were talking about how people make choices for what’s best for their lives, and you can throw yourself into work 100 percent, or you can take a more balanced approach and also devote time to other things in life. And he was using terms like “brilliant” and “stellar”. And he wasn’t talking about me. I do a really good job. I’m great to work with. But I realized I’m no longer considered the brilliant and stellar one.

Well, of course I’m not. Academically, I knew that would happen. I knew that working 40 hours a week rather than 80 hours would have an impact. I knew that letting some things go and not stressing about everything little thing would make a difference in what I produce. I knew I would be going from “the best job ever” to “really good.” I knew that.

I started crying. I don’t know how to come to terms with this in practice. It’s hard for me to see anything other than “stellar” and “inadequate”. There is no in-between. I always had a lot of self-confidence because I knew I was doing the best job possible. No one else could do better. But I have no self-confidence now. This is the first year my annual review has said “meets expectations”. That’s it? I meet expectations?

Why is it so hard for me to accept being merely good? I don’t want to go back to sacrificing myself for work or anything else. I want to have a life. I want to have me. I should be able to take confidence in that. I now have more time to do the things I love: writing, cooking, reading, hiking, whatever. But my confidence in myself, it’s just not there. I don’t know how to get it. I just don’t know how.

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