Prioritizing Motivation and Embracing Neglect

I have neglected this blog in a way I had sincerely hoped I wouldn’t.

I have had a lot going on in life recently, I have been, frankly, exhausted. My writing energy has gone to writing letters to some I love far away. I am still working long hours, still stressed by workplace antics, and just plain not feelin it. I had to give myself permission to take a break.

That was a freeing concept, giving myself permission to neglect some goals I set for myself. It was a revolutionary moment for me.

I have lived in fear of giving up. I have stayed in situations that were pointless and overwhelming because giving up felt shameful. That wasn’t always the case. I used to be that kid that all the parenting magazines talk about. Bright, but had trouble sticking it out and applying myself. With each adolescent struggle, with each prospect of probable failure, with each time my underdeveloped adolescent coping skills got overwhelmed, giving up was a way of controlling my failure.

But the world sends cruel messages to those who struggle… that old lie that if you work hard and apply yourself, you will succeed. That message is meant to motivate, but let us consider the consequences of that line of thinking. If we correlate success with effort, than failure must be due to lack of effort. What about the people who struggle every day, in a myriad of ways, and do not achieve what they are working toward. Where do they fit in? We must assume that they are not successful because they are doing something wrong. Failure is always the individuals’ fault.

If that is the case, what is the point of confronting your struggles, all you get is a lot of stress and in the end you will just feel worse about yourself.

Therein lies the real problem of the message: if you struggle, there is only the slimmest of chances that you will be worthy of success. If you put in the effort and fail to achieve, then you are unworthy; if you give up, you are even less worthy.

So for every math problem that kid-me was told  to “just try harder” or asked “why don’t you get it?” by those I sought help from, the message was ‘it is your fault this is hard for you.’

I hate when things are my fault. By the time I went to college I was determined to not allow anything to be my fault. I worked hard, I took on more and more, I slept less and less and used un-advisable means to keep all that up. I did not say no, and when forced to confront my inability to do everything I had on my plate, I treated myself like a failure.

I have kept jobs that were just awful and unsuited for me and unhelpful to my career simply because I did not want to fail. That situation never turns out well.

Which brings me back to this blog. I felt like a failure for not writing regularly. I had set out to do something and had not followed through as I had expected myself.

But I had no spare energy even to dwell on my failure…. so I gave myself permission to give up for awhile and see how that goes. It did wonders. I still felt a twinge of guilt from time to time, old habits are hard to break, I had a free hour and could write. But really, my brain wasn’t feeling very articulate in most of my down time. I am finally realizing that that is ok, I am giving my precious energy and enthusiasm to other things. Its not failure, its life.

So I don’t know when the next post will be, but thanks to everyone who has been checking in on me out here.

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