Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pssst…Thank you.

Pretty Pink Flowers

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that these flowers are gorgeous.  They’re just part of the landscaping around my apartment, but wow!  The color!  The geometry!  I think I took this photo in the evening, in the fading light, but I can’t recall…

I spent some time thinking about my feelings on posting that photo of myself the other day and your comments on it.  First, I wanted to say thank you for the nice things you said!  You are so kind and supportive.  Second, I wonder if my reaction to my own appearance is indicative of something larger about my sense of self and my expectations.  I don’t talk about it much, but I am a perfectionist.  I have this visceral belief that perfection is possible and that if I can be perfect, then I will be immune to all criticism and invulnerable to any bad things life might throw at me.  This belief is not rational on many levels, but it exists, deep in my psyche.

Your comments reminded me that ideally, we see the good in others before we see the flaws.  Even better, the good we see in others overshadows their weaknesses.  I wish I could feel that way about myself.  I think I spend too much time thinking about the ways in which I fall short of my own perfectionistic desires—I don’t work hard enough, my science isn’t good enough, I’m too whiny, I have trouble completing things, I’m too emotional, I’m not nice enough…blah blah blah.  The list could go on forever.  FOREVER!  Like every person, I am a complex set of traits and habits, some of which are charming and some of which are irritating.  But I am who I am, and at the same time, I am trying to be better than who I am right now.  Now that is a paradox: to be satisfied with yourself and your life while striving to improve it.  No wonder we’re all achievement junkies!

2012 has been kicking my ass.  There is no doubt about that.  I could be really destroyed by all the bad stuff that’s been happening (namely, funding issues/job insecurity and the end of my romance with Matt), but I am fighting tooth and nail to make it to a happier place.  One set of directions to that happier place is to remember that it’s not all bad, that there are always glimmers of hope in the bad days.  In other words, when I look at a picture of myself, I want to see my strong arms and legs, not my stocky midsection.  When I think about myself, I want to see someone who is smart, competent, and kind, someone who believes in her own self-worth and the value of her contributions to the world.  Like I said earlier, I am happy with my body.  I’m striving to be happy with my life, misfortunes be damned.

I believe that you reap what you sow.  In other words, the way that you act in the world will come back to you in various ways.  I suppose it’s sort of like karma.  But the point is that it reminds me to choose the bigger life: to act with honesty and integrity, even when shitty things happen.  It’s hard, this business of being a good person even when the Universe seems to be out to get you.  I deserve a Nicest Ex-Girlfriend in the World Award and a Most Persistent Postdoc Award for my good behavior even in the face of bad odds.  But since nobody out there is going to give me those awards, I am hereby acknowledging my own fortitude and my own capacity for optimism.

Do you hear that, 2012?  I am not done with you yet.  We’ve still got five months to go, and I intend to come out on top.  So bring it!  I might be wearing a midriff-bearing top, and I don’t care if you think it makes me look pudgy.  I’m still going to kick your ass.  While looking fabulous in my new running skirt, of course!

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