I’ve been waist deep in my own vicious internal monologue these days, the one that plagues us all so terribly--that I haven’t been doing enough and that I’m too far behind and that there are so many others who are doing more, doing better, doing all the things I should be doing and then some.
That fine capitalistic programming at work in the back of my noodle brain.
I wrestle with the “worth through productivity” problem more often than not lately, which I find especially troublesome because I’ve managed to make most of my life unfold outside the bounds of typical societal guidelines. I live & work in ways that I find suitable to me and my temperament, which is extremely fortunate, don’t get me wrong. However, in recent times, I find myself lashing my back extra hard because of this, feeling as if I have to prove that I am successful at living because I’m trying to do it in a socially-unconventional way.
The idea that if I can’t hold up the standard criteria that we are “supposed” to compose a life with, that I have to show some other standard of proof that I’m not irrelevant, not a waste--that I am, in fact, worthwhile of time, attention, understanding & affection.
“I’m a mess, I guess…
It’s what I’ve asked for.
It’s what I’ve needed.”
This current state has grown from changes I’ve been trying to make lately. Coming out of a difficult winter and slowly recovering myself & my strength, I fell back into an old habit I’ve had the last few years of this strange independence--taking on more than I can really handle. I have a terrible habit of trying to accomplish everything, all at once, on my own. And pushing myself to do so. For the past few years, I’ve managed to pull off having way too much on my plate all summer long, and I’ve certainly enjoyed it in plenty of ways. But year after year, I slide into the finish line of late fall feeling like I am going to collapse and having no support to pick up my slack if I do so.
And the fact is, even if that support was there, that cycle I’ve been running is simply unsustainable.
The joy I’ve found in getting older now is figuring out what holds deep meaning to me, and that I have a finite amount of energy to put out into those things. And the simple lesson is, if I’m pouring energy into every single cup that appears, I find myself depleted & lacking rather quickly.
However, in making decisions as to where to better spend my energy, and wrapping up commitments that I made when I wanted to just dive headlong into my same old bullshit, I wasn’t prepared for the mental backlash that would occur from having to let things pass me by. And I wasn’t aware of the weight of the work that would show up in just trying to be kinder & gentler with my goddamn self.
There’s so much content out there these days around the ideas of self-care and deprogramming that it almost seems inappropriate if you’re not making strong strides on “becoming your best self.” But the truth is–that whole process is consumingly messy and unexpectedly painful. Self-care for me right now is intentionally slowing myself down, committing to way less projects and events, allowing myself to rest some days without the idea that my little nap is going to let me do so much after I wake up. But, when wrestling with that cranky little voice in the back of my head, all of this adds up to the days where I make myself feel awful for not putting my nose to the grindstone in my craft work. The days that I’m scolding myself for not signing up for more tables & more places to be seen. The days where anxiety grips me because I haven’t made the progress with my gardens that I thought I would by this point in the season.
The process of deprogramming yourself from capitalistic ideas of self worth can be absolutely maddening. When self-care isn’t just the treats and the netflix nights and the bubble baths, but the work of trying and failing and trying again to build a brand new skill set around letting yourself just fucking BE. To be out here, actively creating a new framework for comforting yourself when your own brain is telling you you’re not doing enough. Rewiring pathways to allow yourself space to not compare yourself to those around you and whether or not you measure up is messy and wholly consuming. In my current experience, creating more inner space to allow all of your different voices to exist without grasping onto them and getting carried away is a whole other type of labor, and if just getting through the day without scolding yourself for not doing enough feels exhausting, it’s because it fucking IS.
I’m here on the map, halfway through 35, in the middle of a 12th house year, and I am cracking open doors into rooms in my psyche that still manage to choke me with dust. But, the act of cleaning them out and finding new ways to exist with them is the whole reason why I’m here in this segment of time // space. Creating a new tool set that allows me to be comfortable with myself in times of productivity, as well as spaces of rest, is absolutely crucial if I want to be able to expand my existence further. And all of this to say, simply, that if you’re out here, trying and failing and trying again, to simply be better to yourself when society tells you that you should be pushing harder--I see you, I feel you, and please don’t give into that little voice that tells you you’re not good enough.
Because we’re all here,
walking each other home,
and learning how to take better care of ourselves
and each other along the way.