Am I Cut Out For This?

Posted: January 2, 2011 in anxiety, disappointment

Being in situations where rejection is part of the process can be a brutal experiment in self-confidence building. It’s hard not to second guess myself when I’m not getting the positive reinforcement that I usually thrive on. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s healthy to build enough self confidence to be able to face a certain amount of rejection – it’s part of life. Growing up without a healthy system for dealing with rejection made it that much harder to handle as an adult. It’s a little strange to be 26 and just now learning that some rejection just comes with the territory of being human, and that it isn’t the end of the world.

Relinquishing control has been another important facet of this. Dealing with severe anxiety pushed me to wrestle for control whenever possible – in the past it was one of the few strategies I had for keeping anxiety at bay. It usually didn’t work. Getting to a healthy place where I don’t have to be in control of everything has been scary, but also enormously liberating. So has accepting the idea that stuff is just stuff, and for the most part, if I have something, it should be to use it, and not to let it sit on a shelf or in a box collecting dust.

These things have been intrinsically connected for most of my life. Needing to be in control used to mean needing to be in control of my stuff. I didn’t like people touching my things, and the idea of something being used, damaged, broken, was enough to induce a panic attack. A roommate once lit a candle I’d been saving and it felt like the end of the world…

Coincidentally, that candle is currently burning on the desk in my office. I’m at a point where I’m starting to realize how paralyzing that attitude really was. I used to save things, like that candle, because the idea of not being able to replace them was absolutely devastating. Maybe it’s because so much of my life as a child revolved around stuff – stuff my parents collected; stuff that was destroyed by neglect or mice; stuff I couldn’t have because we couldn’t afford it. Because I felt like my parents – particularly my father – valued stuff more than anything else a lot of the time, I learned early on that protecting my stuff was important.

Now, I’m ready to let it be just stuff. Stuff is for using. And it’s not nearly as important as human relationships.

My best friend is visiting this week. Last night she used a new cutting board instead of one of the old ones I’ve been carefully christening for the past year. The victory in this? It’s just a cutting board. It’s for cutting things. And the pot roast is going to be delicious…even more so because I’ll be enjoying it in the company of a really good friend, and that’s more important than any amount of stuff.

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