It’s interesting to me how my patterns of inadequacy and “not enoughness” can seep into so many corners of my life so subtly and so intractably.
I started a blog because I wanted place to explore my own thoughts about self-acceptance. And yet I’ve found myself with a case of writer’s block these several days. Call it the Ecclesiastian block, a.k.a. the “nothing new under the sun” syndrome. Everywhere I look, it seems, there’s writers out in the blogosphere who are examining any topic I might, and they’re doing it with wit and thoughtfulness and profundity. In other words, they’re all doing it “better than I could” — at least, that’s what the voice in my head is telling me.
In other other words, I have fallen right into the comparison trap.
Comparison is just about the most effective self-esteem killer I know. After all, if self-esteem is intertwined with self-acceptance, what is the effect on self-acceptance when I look outside myself for the standards of how to be? Basically, it’s me stacking the deck against myself. Instead of honoring what is authentically Sherri, I judge my existence against someone else, which gets me into this loop where I beat up on myself for my inability to be someone else.
The absurdity of that logic should be evident in that last phrase I typed: beat up on myself because I can’t be someone else. Asking, expecting myself to be someone I’m not. And how fucked up is that expectation to put on myself?
After all, like Dave Matthews asked years ago, “Could I have been anyone other than me?”
Nope. And yet I so often fall into that trap of trying to be someone else, expecting to act like someone else, and then being bitterly disappointed and self-blaming when I (inevitably) fail in that project.
The road away from that habit has been a long one, and it’s not been an uninterrupted journey. But more and more I’m able to tap into an awareness of my authentic self, and the faith that I am authentically, uniquely perfect in my existence.
“Could I have been anyone other than me?” No, and that’s a reason to celebrate and to honor. And the beauty of that notion — and the fragility with which I am currently able to hold it — is likely the reason why that particular song always makes me tear up a little bit…
So in addition to Dave, I’m going to try and take a notion from my man Stephen Sondheim:
George: I’ve nothing to say
Dot: You have many things
George: Well, nothing that’s not been said
Dot: Said by you, though, George
“Said by you, though.” Things that have been said, things that are being said elsewhere, things that will be said differently by others — those things are still worth saying by me, if they’re things I want to explore and express. Because there is an essential difference between my voice and another writer’s. When I’ve fallen into the comparison trap, I fixate on that difference as the reason why my thoughts are “worse,” and why I shouldn’t bother saying them in public.
But when I separate myself from the habit of judgement, that same awareness of difference is the road to believing my words deserve their own airing. Not ‘cos they’re “better” than anyone else’s. Just because they are unique and strangely perfect in their own way, their own moment.
So I guess I fell into the black hole real fast, but at least I’ve come out of it pretty quickly.