On the List: 1. Feel Worthy (Check!)
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Truth.
I’m about to embark on another weekend that has a list as long as my arm of things I want to accomplish. No matter how many I check off, I probably won’t be happy (unless maybe I ditch everything on the list for a roman- tic getaway!). Maybe if I can just get a few more things done, then I’ll have time to enjoy getting less done and playing more. I’m so close to getting so many things out of the way, closer than ever before.
I’m not sure who first categorized me as the “classic overachiever,” but I do remember being irritated at being categorized at all. I don’t like to be bored. I don’t like to be not doing anything at all. I cannot abide just staring at a TV for hours on end unless I’m multi-tasking through the entire episode. My need for mental stimulation re- quires that my mind be active! Though at times I do en- joy zoning out and enjoying a blissful moment, it’s still an active process. I’m not doing nothing then—I’m basking in the feelings I have in that moment and working hard to hold onto them.
I’m not sure when I first leapt onto the overachiever road. Some people, a very few, would disagree with my beliefs that I’ve achieved anything at all. Those, in gen- eral, are friends of my ex who know little or nothing about me and badmouth both my career choices and my dreams to my children as worthless, useless, insignificant. Ironic, but whenever they try to help my ex in this way, it just appears to our kids that he was a part of it, especially when they know he was with these friends at the time they were posting scathing remarks about me online for my kids and friends to see.
But the fact that some people don’t see any significance in any of my accomplishments—and really don’t have any knowledge about them that’s less than third- hand—is a clue to where this programming originates.
My parents always had high expectations of me. Expectations that they themselves could never meet. And I think “Thou shalt not disappoint thy parents” was one of the 10 Commandments, right after “Thou shalt not kill,” in descending order of importance.
There was an expectation set up that could not be met. Therefore, the expectation became an expectation of failure. You can never do anything but lose. Well, you can work really hard and get tons done, but you still lose be- cause it’s never enough.
So that’s what being so success-oriented boils down to. Proving my worth.
It goes back to the fear of not being loved unless I live up to someone’s expectations or, when put on a pedestal, that I’ll fall off because there’s nowhere to go but down. It’s the whimpering fear of a child who is loved for her potential and not for who she is or as she is. It’s the feeling that I must have a long list of accomplishments that are recognized as accomplishments by the rest of the world or at least by the people I love before I can consider myself worthy of their love…of even of loving my- self.
I used to get everything on my checklists done. I don’t anymore. I let things slip now. Things I don’t think are important. I still spend my time being busy, busy, busy, but I’m no longer spending it being busy with things that don’t serve me. I spend my time now on things that my ex’s friends would surely point to as worthless, useless, and insignificant in their own prioritization of how life should be. And I don’t care if they think I’m inferior, just that they upset my kids.
Of all my re-programming of myself, this is one of the more difficult tasks because it goes back so terribly far into my childhood. But I’m getting better. Much. More so than I’d realized because until now, I’d thought NOT getting everything finished was evidence that I was a slacker so I was a bit worried about this change in me, not realizing it’s a good change.
My spare time is still full and I think it always will be, and that may be an impossibility for a partner in my future to accept my degree of independence.
But I’m now spending more of my busy time accomplishing things I want to do, even if I don’t get it all done. I spend more time doing things that feel good to my soul. And I think the right person out there for me will see me as worthy regardless of the boxes I’ve checked off the list.