Tearing up the list

I was inspired to start this blog almost a month ago. It’s been ready to go live for a few weeks. So why have I kept it “private” up until this point?

I’ve been telling myself it’s because I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just another one of my half-cocked ideas that I abandon half way through. Or that I wanted to make sure it looked the way I wanted it to look before anyone else saw it. I realize now though, that I’ve been afraid. It’s scary to be putting such a guarded part of my life on display for the world to see. I’m afraid of putting myself out there and being criticized, misunderstood or judged.

I’ve shaped my life around avoiding situations where I might be judged. I think out of all the things I fear, rejection might very well occupy the top spot. Which probably explains why I don’t have a huge amount of friends. As sad as it seems when I type it out this way, I’d rather be alone and miserable than put myself out there and risk rejection.

Anyway, I’m totally digressing here. I meant for this to be about my incessant drive to be perfect. Although now that I think about it, I’m not digressing at all, because that drive is directly connected to my avoidance of any form of rejection (criticism, failure, etc.). If I do everything perfectly, I seem to think, everything will be okay. People will like me, I’ll be praised, and all will be right with the world. I suppose no one especially likes being judged negatively, but I think that without a solid sense of self worth, it borders more on desperation. It’s hard enough to not think very highly of yourself, but if other people confirm those beliefs, well, that’s just soul crushing.

Suffice it to say that for a long time I’ve felt the need to earn others’ approval. Part of this is probably a natural part of growing up, but I think a large part of it can be traced to the way my dad always praised my and my siblings’ accomplishments, but never us. I got the message that ME, just plain old ME, wasn’t quite up to snuff. I needed to DO things to be loved. And I’ve been doing things ever since.

Where I got into trouble was when I started creating more and more things for myself to do even just to earn my own approval. That internal checklist I mentioned in my first post? I wasn’t joking. The challenge now is to realize that all of those things I feel I have to do are just that: Things. My worth as an individual should not be defined by my accomplishments any more than it should be defined by the way I look. It’s a difficult thing to wrap my head around after so long of believing otherwise, but I think if I ever want to truly live, as opposed to just checking things off a list every day simply to to feel I’m worthy of existence, I’m going to have to.

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