I’ve been trying to put together a well-thought out and planned release schedule, you know, what I should say first, and then next and then next and blah blah. I still plan to generally follow a tentative guide, just to make things easier to process, but I’ve learned that I need to K.I.S.S. (KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID) more than just frogs to find my happy ending. SOOO, I’m going to start with something that helps me everyday, that I think can bridge any gaps between my unique combination of anxiety and yours. What is it? This:
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to succeed. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I know you can think of at least one life that has breathed easier, even for a second, because of you. It could be a family member, a customer, a significant other, a friend – they ALL count. This quote reminds me to appreciate the gift of success that’s given each time I make someone’s life a little brighter. Like the cashier at CVS that I made smile and take on a well-deserved preen by complimenting how quick she is and how I could never deal with rude customers with such grace. See, the guy in front of me was a dick that particular day and I would’ve totally read him a page from my Nasty Bitch chronicles, but I thought it was important for her to do it on her own, so long as he didn’t get loud. She was still so nice to him, that asshole, but I could tell she was very uneasy afterward and I could just imagine what I would have been feeling after that. I left her laughing by saying that I would have told him to go fuck himself, but then I probably would have gotten fired.
Right there, I helped her breathe easier because instead of keeping her brooding about what a jackass that guy was and wondering if she should have said something more forceful or done something different, her grace was acknowledged, appreciated and exalted. In just a few sentences.
Okay, I know, you’re saying, “Yeah, that’s a real cute story, Kerissa, but wtf does that have to do with my anxiety and why would it help me to remember this?” Well, chances are that if you live with, let’s call it “excessive,” anxiety, you also live with self-image and esteem issues. For various reasons, you think you’re not good enough or didn’t do enough or have to do more in order to be worthy of other people’s esteem. That’s certainly the case for me.
I have spent most of my life chasing after approval I didn’t really need from people whose opinion wasn’t important – not then and certainly not any amount of time later. I don’t know, for sure, how it started, but I’m almost certain I created it because it didn’t start at home. My parents were and have always been proud of me and said so, even when I was a damn delinquent with truancy issues.
No, I think the potential for anxiety overload was already present in my personality and as I got older and made mistakes and bad choices, like everyone does in life, it was ME that took those mistakes and magnified them, then proceeded to carry them around like invisible boulders. I lived in constant fear that someone would see them or find out about them and then…well, I wasn’t sure what would happen, but I told myself I didn’t want to find out.
Over the last year, I finally asked myself why I thought people would react so terribly. At first, I was afraid it was because I was actually an asshole. For real! I was afraid that, deep down inside me, somewhere I didn’t know or want to know existed, I thought I would react terribly if I were the other person. It took me a few weeks to move on to the next step, but finally, I searched myself and collapsed with relief when the Asshole Bone was not found. So why did I think that everyone else must have one and would therefore react terribly or shun me or something? Well, obviously I’m still hashing this one out because I’m not going to list all the mistakes I’ve made here, haha!
I’m a “work in progress,” and I probably always will be, but now that I’m conscious of my tendency to immediately assume I need to be twice as smart, work twice as hard and be twice as charming as anyone else in order to make the cut and gain their approval, I nip it in the bud. I take it step by step and I don’t let my instinctive approval-seeking mannerisms take the lead and steal my thunder — or my self worth.
Everyday I tell myself that I don’t need anyone’s approval or confirmation that I’m enough because I am, period. I’m straight enough with myself to admit that I still want the approval of people, especially those I care about or work for, but as far as who I am as a person, approval is absolutely not necessary.
The quote I shared helps me to justify this to myself. If you have anxiety issues like me, you’re a lot more likely to understand how significant that is. If you’re scratching your head, what I mean is that when I’m telling myself I don’t need anyone’s approval each day, another part of me is hating on that idea and shooting it down, sometimes by mentioning recent bad calls I’ve made, and this quote triggers another part of me (I know, I know, schizophrenic much, Kerissa?!) that chimes in with things like the CVS cashier story and rallies in support of my being enough.
My truth is that I LOVE making people smile. I can’t stand bullies and I consider any intentional unkindness, like that guy in front of me at CVS, akin to bullying, and I don’t have a problem saying something when I think it’s necessary. Remembering this helps shut that little hater inside me up. Temporarily for now, but that bitch’s days are numbered, haha!
What’s your truth? What truly drives you and why? I think having a good idea what your answers are is a great first step towards balance. And balance should be all of our goals. Not being better than we were or as good as someone else, just balanced.
So that’s it for this installment. I sincerely hope that you find some comfort here and that you know how amazingly special of a person you are.
And I’ll leave you with this, from one of my favorite authors ever:
Take care of yourselves!!