I find myself looking for someone else to tell me what I’m doing is good. Is important. Is valuable. I keep trying to convince myself I’m intrinsically motivated, but I don’t trust my own opinion enough. I’d like to be. I want to be. But maybe only because I’ve heard other people say I should. I wonder if there’s a right way to do anything. If there is an answer to, “What should I focus on? What should I pour attention into?” I wonder if there is ever an answer to a “should” question at all.
Even now. I’m spending all my time writing. Reaching out and connecting. I’m doing the hard work. I’m growing and I find it fulfilling. But when I get home at night I still look at Mason with puppy-eyes and hope he’ll agree this is significant. I still feel like it doesn’t count if people don’t share the stuff I write, don’t comment, don’t hit “like”. As if what I get out of it is somehow tied to what you get out of it.
I wish I knew why that is.
Why just enjoying something, just liking something, just creating something isn’t enough. Me seeing value in it does not count. Someone else has to tell me it’s deserving. Someone else has to identify what it is. Digging through piles of rocks and never trusting myself to know which ones are gems.
I don’t know how you learn that. I don’t know how you learn to give yourself more credit. To accept that you’ve always done the best you could in any situation. To start believing.
So much of what I am proud of now hinges on the idea I used to do fewer things I could be proud of. Hinges on the idea I used to be someone only worthy of shame. I’m different now so I deserve my own respect, my own encouragement. The belief there is only strength in my ability to change discredits all the work I’ve done. All the surviving.
It’s easy to look at the things and habits I’ve used to cope throughout my life and see the problems with them. Harder to admit that doing anything to cope is something to be proud of. I didn’t have to cope at all. I could have given up. I still could. Every day I get up and decide to do something. Anything. I decide to take another breath. And another. That’s something to be proud of. No one has to tell me that. No one has to understand what a big deal that is.
This one is between myself and me. I’m sure I’ll figure that out when I’m ready. I’ll learn to believe it only has to matter to me. All these things I do. All these things I create and new habits I make. They only have to matter to me. A daily practice in receiving my own validation. Amazing how hard it can be.