The Twenty


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So, I’ve been thinking about Zest, and how to gain more of it in my life. After a fair amount of circular logic, I came to the conclusion that what I really need to be working on is confidence. I mean, if you’d have asked me straight out I would have said that I was, in fact, a pretty confident person: I stand up for myself when I need to, I know when I’m good at something, and generally I feel pretty… well, confident, about taking on projects or jobs or challenges.

But I’m also suuuuuuuuper sensitive to rejection. And criticism. And to being Left Out. Because a pretty big part of me looks to other people as a way of getting to know myself and when other people respond poorly to me I struggle not to feel poorly about myself.

Confidence.

Self-confidence.

When I think about it, it turns out that in a lot of cases I tend to substitute Expertise and Accomplishment for confidence. If I feel measurably skilled in something I don’t struggle as much with confidence. I don’t worry too much about getting rejections on my writing or my artwork because I know I’ve done a good job on these things: it’s not personal. I don’t worry about, say, getting a bad grade in a class (I’m looking at you Ms-Junior-High-Art-Teacher-Who-Gave-Me-a-D) if I know it’s something I’m accomplished in because I know the grade is not a measure of my actual skill.

To some extent, Expertise and Accomplishment are a bit more objectively measurable than Confidence- which strikes me as being more of a ‘feeling’. I can give concrete, yes/no answers about my skill level and about things I’ve accomplished. I can’t always give an answer about my sense of belonging. Or about my placement in the social strata. Or about my relative success. Or about my physical attractiveness.  So, for these areas I tend to turn to the opinions of other people. For better or worse. Mostly for worse.

It occurs to me that I am so preoccupied with To Do lists because they are an easy way for me to (over) fill my days with Accomplishments rather than running the risk of having empty/unstructured/’wasted’ time in which I might have to confront myself. I might have to be bored. I might have to be moody. I might have to be indolent or distracted. And then how will I know if I’m any ‘good’? If I spend an afternoon pleasantly sitting on the patio staring into space have I ‘wasted’ time any more than if I miss out on a beautiful day because I spent it all grinding away at household chores? At least in the second scenario I would feel justified: I would be able to point to all the tasks I finished as ‘proof’ that my time was well spent, even if I’d been miserable the whole time.

At any rate, I’m going to try to instigate a new goal for myself for, say, the next month. I’m only allowed to put Twenty tasks on my To Do list for the day. And when they are done, the rest of my time is specifically for Leisure. Not more work. Not more goals. Not more tasks. Just for being indolent or bored or moody or distracted. I’d like to get to know myself. I feel like that’s the first step.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on April 23, 2020.

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