Much Obliged, Madam

I’ve been thinking a lot about failure.

Now, before you go thinking that you’re going to need me to talk me of a ledge or something, I don’t mean for that to sound like such a bad thing. I spend a lot of time thinking about success too, but we have to think about our failures in order to sow new success, yes? And I have also learned that much success is not a one time thing, but rather a state of existence that needs to be maintained.

Success and happiness are the same in this way (and are pretty interrelated, obviously). To me, success is a part of happiness. It is a necessary part for everyone, I think. It’s just that the definition of success is different for different people.

So yeah, I’ve been thinking a lot about failure recently. Part of this contemplation has included thoughts on friends I have lost, or more to the point, friends who have lost me. There were communications failures. There were failures to vet properly and there were red flags ignored. But whatever, that’s life, right?

What I’ve been thinking about more these days is my inability to fulfill obligations to myself. I don’t even want to call them obligations. I have great trouble making my own personal goals, desires, and needs a priority in my own life. It is pretty much an automatic habit I have to deprioritize mine when there’s someone else I could spend my energy on.

This isn’t a new realization and anyone who knows me well is all like, “No duh”. It’s true that in the last several years, I have learned how to prioritize myself more and I have gained the confidence to speak my mind and demand decent treatment. But I did that to improve the quality of my relationships. This is important to do, most certainly, but it has a component that is for other people, not just myself.

The frustrating thing for me is that I just won’t put the same kind of value onto things that benefit me almost solely. The two biggest examples are eating right and exercising regularly.

I know the truth already: There is a way of eating that makes me feel a lot better both emotionally and physically. I don’t have allergies or intolerances (I don’t think), but a more “paleo” diet makes me function better and feel healthier. Exercising regularly makes me feel more confident and healthy and does away with any body image issues I might have. If I did both, I would feel incredible.

You would think that with that evidence, it would be easy to prioritize these things for myself. What would prioritizing things like this look like? An early morning yoga class a couple times a week, stopping at the gym on the way home from work, a Pilates class once a week, walks/jogs on the weekends. It would look like meal planning for the week and shopping for what I need for those meals. It would mean not using the time after work stopping at the grocery store or at Home Depot or a million other places, instead of working out. It would mean more “make ahead” meals that would allow me to throw it together in the morning and have it start cooking while I’m out doing things for myself. It would mean cooking even when I don’t feel like it. It would mean scheduling workouts like they are things I can’t miss (like work). It would mean not worrying so much about everyone else’s preferences and let them fulfill those on their own.

It would be me taking an interest truly in my own wellbeing. This sounds really simple but I am currently just not wired that way. But it’s a circuit worth getting.

These things take a lot of time (as in time to exercise and time for preparing healthy meals) and definitely a lot of energy. These things also take clear communication to others. Like, if I’m going to make meals that don’t include starches and other things that make me drag and feel lousy, then all I need to do is communicate what I am making and people who want more can add what they want for themselves. Part of my problem is always trying to anticipate what other people want and feeling obligated to accommodate them, even if it means compromising my own goals.

The bottom line is that I need to see the value in working as hard for myself as I do for other people. I honestly don’t know how to do that. How do I hold myself accountable to myself? Clearly, I still don’t know quite how to value myself without external validation. I am assuming that this is a skill I can learn. I know I can always work harder, but at some point I’m going to need to work smarter too.

Good thing I have therapy on Monday!


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