9.29.2011

Doing Everything Wrong

Do you ever have days where you feel like you’re doing everything wrong? That despite your best intentions, you’re just a massive screw-up? I’ve been feeling that way lately. Feeling like I pretty much despise myself. Feeling like I do everything wrong, say everything wrong, that I’m just wrong, wrong, WRONG in every way, shape, and form.

I like to say that I don’t care what people think of me. But it’s a lie. A complete and utter lie. I want to be liked, to be loved, to be understood. The thought of someone thinking poorly of me destroys me. So I have this overwhelming urge to be perfect. Be such a great and wonderful person that no one ever thinks badly of me. That they’re never angry with me, never disappointed, never hurt, never frustrated. Guess how that’s been working out?

I know I shouldn’t be upset that I’m flawed. We all are. But I am upset. I hate that I’m selfish sometimes, that I can be lazy, unreliable, incompetent, jealous, or mean. I hate that despite my best intentions I may inadvertently hurt or annoy someone else. That I may put my foot in my mouth, let someone down, or make a huge mistake. I hate that I care so damn much. That I can’t live up to the person I want to be.

I’m so worried all the time that everyone I love in my life will leave me. That they’ll get frustrated or annoyed with my imperfections. That they’ll whisper to other people about what a screw-up I am. That they’ll just decide I am not worth it. It’s happened before; it might happen again.

I grew up insecure and needy. I thought I’d moved past that. That I liked myself for who I was. But I’ve realized it’s not completely true. I spend a better part of every day worrying about every little thing I do and say. Did that come out wrong? Is so-and-so mad at me? What did I do wrong? Are they acting distant? Do they think I’m a jerk, a liar, a fake? Did I sound judge-y or stupid? Do they think I’m rude or a bad person?

I second guess every action, every word, every thought. How could I have done that better? Why am I so stupid? Why am I such a failure? Why didn’t I do that better? Why can’t I do what I should be doing? Should, should, should. My life is full of WHYS and SHOULDS. Full of WRONG. Full of FAILURE.

And I hate myself for it.

Here’s the paradox: I accept imperfections in others. I forgive pretty easily and readily. Because no one’s perfect, right? But I cannot accept my own imperfections. I feel like I have to prove myself to everyone I meet.

When I was 19 or so I wrote “Tracie’s Theme.”1 It goes like this:

Too much pressure caving in
Too much stress on my mind
I must confess I’m a mess inside

Why do I feel/ the need to prove?
I feel like I’m constantly proving myself.

Chorus:
How long till I fall?
How long till I break?
How long till I break/And make the biggest mistake of all?

My greatest foe/is me I know.
I can’t seem to be who you want me to be.

I will never be/Good enough for you
Still I keep on trying every single day

(Chorus)

Bridge:
I’ll keep, keep on trying
I’ll keep, keep on fighting
I’ll keep, keep on trying
I’ll keep, keep on fighting
Until I’m good enough for you
Until I’m good enough for you

(Chorus)

Look at me, using poetry (songs are a type of poetry) again to explain my feelings. I'm like sensitive or something.

Anyway, I really struggle with this. Feeling like I'm good enough. Feeling like I deserve friendship, love, and other good things despite the fact that I'm completely imperfect. Feeling inadequate as a friend, mother, editor, wife, doula, etc. I doubt I'm the only person who feels this way. My question is how do you overcome this? How do you stop feeling like you have to prove yourself to others? How do you stop second guessing yourself? Stop stressing that everyone is analyzing every move you make and giving you a score of zero? How can I just let things...be?

1 My friends who know about song writing, music, music theory, and all that, please don't judge my song too harshly. I know it's not perfect and that I probably don't use meter, musical terms, etc. accurately. This was also the second song I ever wrote. The first one being laughably bad. :)