I ask this question a lot during my day. Am I sweeping the floors right? Am I ringing up the customer right? Did I say this right? Did I read this or hear this right?
Is there anything I’m doing wrong? Is there anything I’m missing?
I spend so much time and energy worrying about being right, doing right, getting things right, looking right in the eyes of others…you get my drift.
Behind these persistent, if not downright tiresome, questions, is the deep fear that if I don’t get things right, I will be rejected. I will be unlovable and not worth peoples’ time. If I can’t do right by everyone I know, or even by society’s standards, I will be kicked out of the company of others. I will be an outcast, unwanted and uncared for.
You know that line from the Anchorman movie: “Well, that escalated quickly.” There’s a very popular meme with that line and scene out on the interwebs now. Yeah. That’s how my mind works. It goes from not sweeping the floors perfectly to getting fired in a single bound.
That’s anxiety. It is not fun.
But at the same time, I think a lot of people have fears like this. They’re those nagging little voices that tell us we’re not good enough, our jobs aren’t good enough, our grades could be better, our lives could be a little more put together, our relationships could be less chaotic, and us as individuals could be cooler/more exciting/more involved/doing more.
Society puts so much weight in what we “do,” to the point that what we “do” is who we are. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it.
Well, I know how I feel about it. I hate it. Yet I play along with it.
When someone I know sees me working at Bed Bath and Beyond or Jimmy John’s, I am quick to point out to them that I also coordinate a mentoring program for a church. Because I can’t have them thinking I’m not doing anything with my degree.
When I’m asked to help with something, even if it’s not very convenient for me to do so, I say yes right away. Because I can’t be seen as unreliable and uncaring.
I apologize for things that aren’t my fault in case what I’ve done or failed to do causes offense to others.
I kick myself when I’m not doing all the cool, world-changing things that other people my age and even younger are doing, because I feel like I’m not living my life as well as those people.
I am a pro at needlessly comparing myself to others, when it knocks me down several notches or when it allows me to tower over others. It’s toxic, and exhausting, and just plain useless.
What has happened in our lives and in our world that we cannot be content with who we are? Where has the world gotten into its head that if only we were prettier/cooler/richer/famous, everything would be great? At what point does it enter our consciousness that we, just as we are and for who we are, are not enough?
I’ve been struggling with this question and many other questions related to success and life and my future and the future of others for some time now. If anyone has any insight, or would also like to join the conversation, please share.