Has anyone ever told you that you need to “give yourself a break” or “cut yourself some slack”?
Every. Day. I hear it quite often. Lately, I find that I have been the one uttering these phrases to myself, whether it was in front of my bathroom mirror or while taking a few deep breaths throughout the day. Although this is troubling, I find peace in the fact that I’m not the only one who feels this way. In fact, feeling this way isn’t just a common trend in my age bracket, but for all human beings. We put too much pressure on ourselves to succeed. We beat ourselves up over the small things, and are constantly trying to perfect ourselves. We get so busy working towards a better version of ourselves that we lose sight of who we are. I am very guilty of this, and I decided that it is time for this to change.
As I continue to make goals and work to reach them and find happiness, I have realized something: I am doing this wrong. I find that if I don’t meet a certain task that I marked for the day, I criticize myself and question my worth. I tell myself, “Yes, I may have gone to the gym today, but I didn’t write a blog post” or “So what if I wrote in my gratitude journal every day this month? I didn’t practice guitar!” I don’t give myself enough credit for what I actually do. I have this constant urge to perfect myself —to always achieve something. I am not embracing who I already am. It’s not right.
I find myself much happier, but I am so pressured to always feel and be happy, and if I am not “happy” at a specific moment, I put myself in a difficult state. I feel that all I worked for was a waste. If I do not do something that I consider a “happiness boost” I let that affect my overall happiness and mood. What I need to tell myself is that those actions make me happier, but that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t happy to begin with.
As you have noticed, I have been on the Gretchen Rubin, Happiness Project, work-towards-creating-a-better-you bandwagon. It has absolutely worked —I owe a lot of my happiness to Rubin and her tips and tricks. I have been reading her books and using what I have learned to better fit my lifestyle. I successfully adopted and completed my theme for 2015: Control, and worked towards battling my anxiety and depression. I have used her books to work towards this year’s theme: Health, and I am happy with the results. Rubin is an amazing writer, and truly a happiness expert. Because of her, I am inspired to write and share my journey to health and happiness with others. I have found, however, it’s the little things that get to me, and that’s what I need to work on.
It hit me one night when I was watching Little Women, one of my favorite movies (and my favorite book of all time). During the scene when Jo first meets Professor Bhaer and is sitting in his room drinking dark, bitter, coffee, they start to discuss literature, and her goals as a writer. They dig deep into their aspirations, struggles, and goals. Jo states: “I am hopelessly flawed.” Professor Bhaer replies: “I think we are all hopelessly flawed.”
In her books, Rubin neglects to write about something I find very important: struggles. Her work lacks the struggles human beings face when achieving our happiness and goals. These struggles can be that one may feel that there isn’t enough time in the day to complete all of their goals, or in my case, there may be psychological barriers that get in the way.
In her books, Rubin touches on a few downfalls she experiences, but she doesn’t dive deep enough; there are only slight mentions. She makes achieving happiness —for her at least— seem so easy. In her case, that is incredible. I am sure it is not easy for her, but it is not as simple for others. How do you achieve all of these things with anxiety, depression, or both? How do you react when you can’t meet a goal, or find that you didn’t put a nice check mark next to your daily resolutions? Upon asking myself these questions, I told myself: that’s something that I would want to read.
A light bulb then went off in my head and I thought: that’s something I want to write.
Speaking about this with my therapist was enlightening. I have been making strides in battling my inner struggles, but sometimes, I get caught up in my constant need to perfect and succeed. When mentioning the Little Women scene to him and my latest battle with meeting my goals, he said: “You need to be happy with who you are before you try to move forward. You need to work towards meeting yourself where you are now and then focus where you’d like to be.”
I have a constant urge to perfect. I feel that I always have to prove myself, that I have worth, and that I am successful. I continue to push myself to do more, and be more, but sometimes it feels like it isn’t enough. It’s a challenge, but not feeling this way is something to strive for. I’ve been buckling under the pressure, and it’s going to take a lot of training to meet myself where I am now, but it’s worth it.
It’s time to dig deep. People aren’t interested in reading personal stories that they can’t relate to. They want to read about someone who embraces human error —someone who isn’t afraid to admit that they are worried about change, or that sometimes they too feel the pressure. What we need are real stories, and people who are brave enough to share them.
That’s where I will come in. I am not anywhere close to perfect, but that’s what I love about myself. That’s what I am excited to share with you.