I am still, after therapy, after clearing seeing the ludicrousness of it, after having life go terribly awry because of it, obsessed with people liking me. Never mind that I know that desperately wanting people to like you is wholly unlikeable, that obsessing about this exact thing caused me to lose my very self. Still, there it is. And when I think about it, I swear my brain recoils in horror: “Well, you don’t want to be a total bitch who doesn’t care at all what anyone thinks of her do you? But what’s the alternative, being a pathetic person, craving appreciation and love?” At no time does any part of my brain step in and suggest balance. It’s either cold bitch or sniffling ass-kisser. There is no in between.
But get this. At the same time, I am turning into the most anti-social person I know. At the store, I get personally offended if an employee asks if I need help. “No thank you,” I say, when what I really mean is “can I not shop in peace? Do you have to get all up in my personal space and interrupt me when I clearly have not asked for help?” Seriously, what kind of a bitch am I? Yesterday, standing in line at the post office, this guy was way too close behind me, and every time the line moved, I would attempt to get away from him and he kept inching closer and closer and his packages were actually poking me in the leg and it took all I had not to whip right around and tell him to take his fucking packages somewhere else and as I was not his date, he could just step off and stop spooning me. That’s me: full of holiday spirit.
I want people to like me, but I don’t want to atually have to talk to any of them. I guess I just want to be admired from afar. I want to sit in my perfectly cleaned and decorated apartment, curled up next to my perfectly lit fire, and enjoy the silence while people in their own homes think lovely thoughts about me. “That Alice. She sure is admirable. And I bet her house is perfectly clean!”
In reality, I did try to have a fire over the weekend, but managed only to light several thousand matches. The logs were unfazed. It is apparently much easier to burn down your kitchen than it is to start a fire in your fireplace. Forget having a perfectly manicured life, I can barely make it in to work.
If you’re striving to be perfect, you’re fucked. There is no perfect. It’s predetermined failure. And besides, when you die, will it matter more that you’ve enjoyed your life or that you’ve achieved some state of perfection? And yet, that little voice won’t go away: If you don’t strive to be perfect, you’re aiming for mediocrity. You’re stepping up and proclaiming to the world that your ultimate goal is averageness. You want everyone around you to see your accomplishments and universally proclaim, “eh.” (Although they’d better do their proclaiming from over there.)
I don’t have a blinding flash of insight to sum this all up. I do know, in a tenuous, unsure way, that maybe I just need to measure success differently. That’s it’s not about being perfect or mediocre, but about living your life as fully as you can. And while I can see the logic of it, the emotion of it is more difficult. It may be a choice, to live my life differently, but it’s more an uphill climb to the top of a towering mountain lined with slippery rocks and shifting sand than it is a simple fork in the road. And as I climb, that post office guy had better not be behind me.