I sat in an old church in Old Town Dubrovnik this evening. Chandeliers hung from the ceiling and remains of a saint named St. Sylvan were encased in a small glass case beneath a religious portrait.
I find churches great places to reflect and process whatever is bothering me, and being there helped me write the remainder of this post. It’s a bit of a mixed bag of ideas/realisations so thought I’d structure it under 3 main areas.
1. Connection Inside must be Stronger than What Happens on the Outside
Oh man how I struggle with this one. Not meditating and journaling frequently has unravelled this and has seen me betray myself in a million tiny ways in my daily life. But what does it mean to have a stronger connection inside? It means to always have within arms reach what is true for you, no matter what the situation is. It’s staying rooted to your inner truth and opinion on something, expressing it courageously no matter the reaction you get.
Being a natural people pleaser, I’ve several times in the past said indirectly to others, ‘My inner truth can be whatever you want it to be’ with a customer service smile (makes me sick even admitting that). All to avoid conflict and confrontation, because if someone gets mad, it means I’m not worthy. And that’s the equivalent of death for me.
I’m not sure at what point in my timeline I made the assumption that others perceptions of me should have a direct impact on my self worth, but happen it did. Which is why I seek positive experiences in all my social encounters – to help me keep glowing. To keep life bearable. To feel accepted. To belong without prerequisites.
2. Self-Comparison at Work
At work, performance is highly valued. So much so that its affected my focus and being comfortable in my own skin there, feeling and knowing I’m enough is a luxury I’ve rarely tasted in that place. The scourge of Imposter Syndrome.
I’ve allowed myself to slip into the belief that I’m somehow lower than everyone else there, that’s there’s something wrong with me because I don’t think the same as everyone else.
One thing that has helped enormously is to maintain a fixed perspective at work. Others perceptions aren’t solid objects that define me, but more like wisps of smoke – here and then gone, over and over again. And it’s all bullshit, what they think. Barack Obama once said in an interview with Humans of New York that it isn’t about you when you’re working, it’s only the work that matters and where your focus should be at. Detaching yourself from the equation is what matters, and only seeking knowledge and truth to help you feel comfortable in doing your role, and do it well.
For someone with social anxiety, caring what others think is linked into self-comparison, they form a vicious circle and the only exit is to drop caring what others think so much, and re-shift the emphasis on myself and staying connected to my inner truth, moment by moment. Can be easier said than done but it’s so worth attaining, and life just gets easier.
I’ve banked a lot of expectation on myself on this holiday because of all of the above – I’ve put myself down for 2 weeks to know what my next move should at least be, career wise. Oh, and write up blog posts of my holiday, and finish reading my book – The Handmaid’s Tale – and meditate and reconnect with myself while also running around nearly everyday sight seeing. As you can tell I’m pretty good at filling up my itinerary 🙂
Where I am now isn’t all that different to where I’ve started, in a way. I still have the same issues and 2 weeks abroad wasn’t going to magically wipe it all up like a mop (as much as I’d hoped!). What I can say is that I’ve begun to accept it all – and that’s always been my problem – accepting my soft parts and my vulnerabilities and allowing myself to be that way, publicly. From a social anxiety perspective, it’s again the equivalent of death.
The only way myself, or you reader, or anyone can be that way, is if we hold above all else, like a prized trophy immune to reproach, the belief we’re worthy, no matter what.
And that’s courage, like a lonesome ship fighting through a storm type of courage. Because sometimes the world will tell you it’s not true, or even worse, you’ll tell it to yourself.
And I write this post, not just for myself, but for everyone who is struggling with shit like this because let’s be honest, it’s a fucking struggle.
And I’m tired of it always being an issue but here’s the thing I’ve learned. This isn’t something you get a medal for and then get to go home, this is practice and practice until you’ve built it within yourself so strongly none can knock it over. Brick by brick, you build a stronghold of all that you love about yourself, with a banner flying at the top that says, ‘My existence is enough’. You pronounce yourself to the world and yeah, you will get poked and prodded. But people poke you to the extent of their own insecurities and past experiences so don’t let it push you over.
Staying rooted inside keeps you strong against the gale, particularly when you’re under speculation and doubts are pushed on you. Accepting your flaws and faults lovingly is the only way I’ve known to get through it.
Remember you’re human, that counts for something.
What’s come to me from being away is that no matter where you go, you bring how you are with you. And this holiday wasn’t about fixing it, it was about accepting it so it wasn’t such a big deal anymore. Initially, I felt the urge to rush and change it.
What I found most important was this; to stop seeking some other better, higher version of yourself and accept unconditionally how you are now. If you do that, that wonderful version of you that you’ve envisioned will become organically and not through some artificial, forceful means.
I’ve been trying to reconnect with my identity, like it’s some separate object I’ve lost. All I’ve been seeking this whole time is now so bloody obvious; loving myself, no matter what version of that looks like.