So that’s it, right? I hit rock bottom, decided I needed to change and did. What could be easier? If only!
Were such an undertaking so simple, I doubt I’d have ended up here in the first place.
To be sure, there are plenty of my flaws I’ve no problem acknowledging: I’m a know-it-all, I’m stubborn, I can have a bit of a temper. The other flaws, though. Those are a different story. These are the flaws we all have, the ones we see as potentially fatal. If you are anything like me you have taken great care to suppress these flaws, to ensure no one else ever finds out about them, likely to the point that you yourself have barely acknowledge that they exist. We fear that the worst parts of us are the real us and that if anyone else ever found out about them, they’d judge us as harshly as we judge ourselves.
Here’s the thing I came to believe: if I put half as much effort into understanding those imperfections (and how to manage them) as I did in trying to pretend they weren’t a part of me, I’d have figured things out a little sooner.
Today I am sharing the flaws I once considered impenetrable, because they no longer define or control me and because the strength that I found to deal with these issues is not exclusive to me. I hope that my confessional helps you address whatever it is about yourself you’re afraid to confront, because once you take on your so-called demons, they lose a lot of their power, and you can begin the business of seeking better.
My flaws and imperfections
- I was a quitter. I am thirty-four years old and in that time I have started countless projects. I’ve probably finished about ten of them. If things got too hard, I was out. If it required too much effort, it was no longer for me. If I simply didn’t feel like it anymore, I didn’t do it anymore. I could go back to every single thing I’ve ever quit and justify why I did it and why it was the best thing. WhyI had no other option but to quit and why it wasn’t really even my fault. Here’s the problem with quitting everything: you arrive at thirty-four feeling like you’ve accomplished nothing, like you’re a failure, like you’ve simply settled because settling required less effort.
I was paralyzed by the fear of failure. I can’t tell you how many things I’ve wanted to do in life that I haven’t pursued because I was afraid I wouldn’t be any good at it. In middle school, I wanted to try basketball; in high school, it was volleyball. In college, it was majoring in anything or making any sort of decision about my future because making the wrong choice felt crushing. This fear of failure has kept me from starting a blog since the earliest days of blogging. I’ve always loved writing and think I’m quite good at it, but I was terrified I was the only one who would think that. I was convinced that failure wasn’t only possible, it was imminent. I didn’t think I was strong enough to recover from it. The problem with this is obvious: if you never try anything, you never accomplish anything.
I was independent to a fault. I’ve never been a person with 12 best friends; I’ve never been a person who joins things. Those people, lesser people of course, needed other people but me? I didn’t need anyone. The walls I erected around myself had been there so long they didn’t even feel like walls; they felt like home and more importantly they felt like no one could ever hurt me, which is really what my brand of independence was about in the first place. If I didn’t allow myself to need anyone, I’d avoid any and all pain. I didn’t anticipate that being alienated, even when it is an alienation of your own making, is its own kind of pain.
I was uncomfortable with emotion. I proudly proclaimed that I wasn’t a crier. Come what may I will put my head down and I will get through it. You will NEVER see me rattled. I was not ruled by emotion and that made me feel superior and more importantly it made me feel safe. (See a theme here?) I equated the vulnerability of being emotional with being weak. I thought people would see me open and raw and decide that I couldn’t hack it, that I was lacking the strength necessary to navigate life. Unfortunately, refusing to express emotion isn’t the same as being absent of emotion. Years of internalizing literally every unpleasant emotion I’d ever felt left me exhausted and angry. I suppose it shouldn’t have come as a shock when that internalization reached its breaking point and became unbearable.
It’s only fair that I tell you that these things are still with me, still as much a part of me as they ever were and they always will be. In the same way I can’t change my eye color, I can’t change the fact that the easy and most natural thing for me to do when the going gets tough is to quit. I will always be a person for whom emotion and vulnerability is laborious. The difference is that now I refuse to accept the easy thing. I’ve become comfortable with being uncomfortable, so to speak, and I’m better for it. I’m still a work in progress. Plenty of other flaws still exist. I’m no longer avoiding them or allowing them to keep me stagnant. I’m moving forward, ever so slowly, to better.
I want to know: Is there a negative quality you’ve allowed to define you? How can you begin to address it?