I’ve spent most of my life trying to prove that I’m worthwhile. And the rest of it asleep.
I don’t know why it’s always been like this. It feels like I’m forever starting the race hours after the gun, desperately hoping simply to finish before the maintenance staff locks up the stadium and goes home.
Perhaps if I was competing for epic greatness, like a Michael Jordan, it would be more fun. But stressing and straining to simply not be a failure isn’t quite scratching my itch.
And it’s like this with work, hobbies, and pretty much everything I do, especially when it involves other people.
I recently heard Oprah say on a podcast with Brené Brown that immediately after every interview, including with Obama, the subject asks if they did okay. I take this to mean that it’s not just me struggling with insecurity. Nevertheless, I do feel uncharacteristically confident that Barack is more self-assured than I.
The Rx for this malady, as best as I can figure, involves trying to sit with these chronic self-doubts until I get comfortable and accepting–even friendly–with them. This way I won’t have to spend my whole life reactively scrambling through misguided and fruitless external efforts to make them go away.
I hope that I’m slowly working my way through these old, painful hauntings, even though “good spiritual seekers” are not supposed to be attached to outcomes. I’m just trying to focus on my breath and tolerate the sensations, without hoping upon stubbornly persevering hope that I am finally released from working so hard. And from the spiritual practice of sitting with these miserably uncomfortable feelings.
I had a nice cry in meditation this morning and it felt like a little bit of my undermining doubts lifted. The response to these essays has lost momentum in the last month or two. Because I can’t quite manage to stop being unduly affected by nearly meaningless metrics like this, even though I know better, it pushes my buttons. My first-thing-upon-waking-stats-review this morning showed no significant, viral-ish improvements despite a new story in one of the bigger publications. I wasn’t sure how today was going to go and I could feel that sinking feeling rising.
I managed to drop down into the hurt and let some of it out this morning. It might just be a little pressure blowing off that will soon start building again as the cycle repeats. Sort of like that button in the hatch on LOST that needs to be pressed every 108 minutes so the world doesn’t blow up. And, while I’m being a good seeker and not attaching myself to any outcomes whatsoever, I would like to just mention to any readers with possible messianic connections that I’d be gleefully ecstatic if today’s relief was even a little bit permanent.
I know I am deeply driven to write and draw for purposes that have nothing to do with my day-to-day stats. However, they do determine how possible it is to monetize this work, and ultimately how much time I have to create these pieces, so they are not entirely meaningless. That said, reducing the results to this purely practical concern would be a godsend, if God would pretty please god-send me this.
Sure, I’d like to be a success. I’d love to be beguiling, charismatic, and magnetic. But my real goals are to write with freedom and ease, connect openly without worry and doubt, and stop replaying my social interactions at 4 AM after every encounter.
My ultimate goal is to live unencumbered by the doubts and second-guessing I’ve always known. I suppose I could say “less” encumbered, and also point out that my doubts and fears have in some way been my friend, trying as they have to protect me from whatever real situations summoned them forth in the first place. But I’m ambitious about feeling okay.
I don’t need to win. I don’t need to be a staggering success. I don’t need 100k followers. All I really want, when all is said and done, is to feel good enough to stop measuring how good I am.