“A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.”
— Bob Dylan

I like the idea and I aspire to live it in some way — to be “a success” because I say/believe so, and not on other people’s terms excessively.

Approval of others — it smells sickly sweet, like burnt stovetop chocolate icing. Gross and completely inedible and certainly of no nutritional value, but the hint of cocoa aroma is there. Let’s face it — I do love chocolate, and I am also highly attracted to approval. I have allowed myself to be wooed too easily by false niceness (switched jobs for it, even, more than once) and the reverse: I have let myself be just completely crestfallen by even the hint of negative feedback from certain people whose feedback probably was never that important, or that negative, to begin with. This needs changing — no more settling for crappy chocolate! 😛

For most of my life, especially as a teen and twenty-something, I’ve attached a lot more meaning on what other people think (or what I think other people think – logical stuff to base life decisions on) than on what I believe of myself. I used to believe, whether I admitted it or not, that my performance as a student or as a worker (as reflected in the feedback of others who seemed to know better than me) was a massive, integral and conclusive reflection of who I actually am as a person — and I continue to catch myself attaching value judgements of “good” or bad” and “right” or “wrong” on what I do or do not do or could do or should do or could have done and yadda yadda. All crap, really. I am aware of it, and I catch myself faster, but it is still there humming away in the background of my mind in my day to day.

It takes immense energy (luckily, I am determined) to keep reframing, adjusting, and asking myself continuously why it matters so much whether so and so says whatever about whatever I do or say. To consider myself, no matter what I am doing or how well, and say to myself: “I accept this and I am acceptable to myself as is”, and even if this isn’t “perfect” then that is okay too. And there is so much more to me, like my loving relationship with my husband and the connections I make with friends, family and acquaintances: the important things.

The main thing is that I am working on it all the time, even when it hurts to push past the gunk and the gross stuff that has built up so much over time. Only I can do this work.

I turn 30 in a little over a month — which is both nothing, as in just another day/year, and yet is something milestone-ish. We all grow up with interesting ideas of what our lives are supposed to look like at 30 — for me, even with all of my other achievements and good things, I keep checking my career status or lack there of. The one definite bar I have set for myself: I am registered for an 8K run on January 25th, Robbie Burns Day (I am very Scottish ancestrally).

And no matter how fast or well I run it in traditional terms, doing it and completing it because it is what helps me feel good: that is the point.

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