Between the pandemic and my own anxiety, I’ve been in my feelings. Even though I’m already a hermit, I feel more alone now than ever before. It has forced me to think about my life and who I’ve become. About 3 years ago, I realized that the gratification I felt after working hard on things like projects and assignments was the feeling I was missing in my personal relationships with people. It’s likely that I was expecting constant gratification from others in my life because I never felt like I could get it from my mom. The feeling I’d have after busting my chops on a project, seeing my work, and even having my work recognized by others- it made me feel whole. So that what I focused all of my energy on.
As time went on, relationships with people were placed on the back-burner. People disappointed me. They could never be exactly who I (felt I) needed, when I needed them to be. I could never be who they needed me to be. I couldn’t trust that people would be around in the long-run since most people in my life weren’t, so I didn’t like to get too close to anyone. I’d decline dates to hang out with friends in order to devote myself to whatever I was working on. Knowing how I would feel when the work was done was worth every lonely minute. In fact, it didn’t take long before I didn’t feel lonely anymore.
It wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine though. There were days where my work wasn’t up to par. Times where I was given, or took on, a project that was too difficult. In those moments I crumbled. I no longer felt that I could take my concerns to those around me because I didn’t really value friendship anymore. “Why bring my problems to someone else? All it would do is be a burden to them,” I’d think to myself. I would cry, I would become irritable, I’d have nightmares, and sometimes I’d cope by pretending to exist in a fantasy world or by eating comfort foods.
I never pictured a time in my life like right now would come. I hardly interact with people. I’m actually pretty afraid to. During this quarantine, I don’t really feel anything (in regards to social distancing and isolation) because I was already keeping to myself. What’s been difficult is that everything has come to a screeching halt- including my productivity. I started exercising again to reduce some of my stress and something hit me- I tie my self-worth into my accomplishments. It’s not much different than someone who ties their self-worth to how many Instagram likes they receive. When I feel like I’m accomplishing things, I’m on a high. When I feel like I’m not accomplishing things, I question if my life has any purpose and I spiral into a pit. I don’t know why it’s just occurring to me, but that’s not normal and it’s not ok.
My self-worth dictates my behaviors. Who I interact with. Whether or not I leave the house. What I eat. And these are all things that shouldn’t simply be based on whether or not I’ve scored an A or a difficult assignment or how much money I made in a month. I should feel like I’m worthy, and behave as such all the time. I should allow myself to build relationships with people, explore the world, and eat foods that nourish and heal me regardless of how I feel about what I’ve got going on. I have to figure out how to get passed the imaginary “carrot hanging from a stick” over my head and stop chasing the desire to be told I’m doing a good job or that I’m enough.
It’s so much easier said than done, but I wanted to write about it here just to put it out into the world. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do to make the change, but I am going to spend plenty of time tomorrow thinking about it. It may mean that I drop a project, it may mean daily mantras, it may mean finding a new Christian community, it may mean fasting…