Why I Don’t Like Myself

It seems like today will be a “Negative List-Making Day” for me. I need to get all this negativity out before proceeding with the rest of the week, though, so bear with me.

I don’t like myself right now because:

  1. I’m messy and disorganized. Or, rather, I have an organized, responsible persona and a disorganized messy persona, and the latter always ends up defeating the former.
  2. I have a very bizarre system of priorities that keeps undermining me.
  3. I keep forgetting that beating your head against a wall only results in brain damage and does nothing to remove the wall.
  4. I’m infantilizing myself by not learning to drive, which is a very stupid thing to do.
  5. I never answer emails on time, except when they are from students.
  6. And the worst part of all: I keep putting off my research, the part of my life that never disappoints and that always gives my life meaning, for the sake of stupid and meaningless things that do disappoint on a regular basis. This way, I can continue being a receptacle for the shit people want to unload on me while nothing of value gets done.

So I’m using this opportunity to make this public pledge on my blog:

Never again will I do anything (no matter how much people exhort me, plead with me and cajole me into doing it) before I have finished my research activities for the day. Until I’ve done my writing, everybody and everything can go stand in a queue.

Believe me, folks, never again will I engage in this self-defeating, self-sabotaging game.

And now I will go and organize my papers.

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20 comments on “Why I Don’t Like Myself

  1. How are you me??? Seriously, those are my same problems, except for “research” substitute “working on my novel(s)” and I do drive. However, I did put off learning to drive as long as possible. I lived in Miami and was terrified of getting on the road with the insane drivers there. But it’s impossible in this country to be truly independent if you don’t drive. Unless you live in some place like New York City, but I’d say even then I’d want to have that skill for emergencies. But I now live in a small town in the middle of nowhere, and if I didn’t drive I’d have no life.

  2. I had a whole thought worked out here and the computer blipped and I lost it.

    It came down to – I also self sabotage and I try to train myself out of it via discipline and practical resolves, and it doesn’t work.

    The phrase that would work would be a resolve not to do anything in particular, but do whatever I want.

    I think this would solve a lot since I am already overly well trained to defer to others.
    Doing what I want would solve just about every issue, since what I want, conveniently enough, isn’t to lie in bed all day eating bonbons.

    If grownups don’t have shoulds, as someone said, I am not grown up and I should practice saying, yes you are! You have permission!

    • It would be great if I just did whatever I want because what I want is very good and useful. But there is this weird internal thing – fear of being happy, fear of being successful – that prevents me. It’s a block that exists inside me and that I need to eradicate.

      I have moments, even entire days, when I am this person that I could be permanently if I didn’t prevent myself – happy, joyful, full of energy. I’d like to be that person always. Or at least most of the time.

      “Doing what I want would solve just about every issue, since what I want, conveniently enough, isn’t to lie in bed all day eating bonbons.”

      – Me, too!

  3. I can relate and cannot tell exactly what my fear is of — it is either of the envy of others, or of freedom itself, or both of these.

    I challenge you to a Seinfeld chain of doing as we want / see fit. Not should, but want or think best, or that feels right.

  4. P.S. I think that if it is a question of what one fears — mine might be of seeing or facing things I cannot fix or cannot fix easily. As long as my obstacle is that I do not treat myself well enough — something I am fairly sure I know how to do — then I avoid seeing whatever it is that shields me from seeing: the next stage, whatever it is, or a harder, less well defined project, etc. I should pull the curtain back; what is behind it might not even be scary.

  5. Aha – and last thought on this for now – I also think there are situations without content. You have something holding you back not because you need or want it but because you have learned to keep something like that around. Then I think it might not need to be analyzed, just recognized – it’s there but is not required. That it is there, and is a barrier, and is not required is not necessarily easy to see, and even then habit can make it hard to remove.

  6. Also – I see that a key reason why it is hard for me to stick with any program of doing what I want, during the day, is that in a much broader way I am not doing what I want!!!

    All my major decisions since age 35 have been coerced, the overarching issue being having to take care of my parents. Major decisions since have not been freely made; it’s sort of like having been backed into a corner. *That* is why it is hard to feel free in daily life and it’s where the root problem lies, I suspect.

    My other insight for the day is that trying to translate things into fears may not be accurate. There are other emotions and emotional situations people act on. When I try to figure out what am afraid of I go around in circles trying to guess, run a Spanish Inquisition on myself, end up feeling stumped, and give up. If I ask what I am responding to without requiring it be a fear, I find it a lot easier to figure out what is going on.

    • “All my major decisions since age 35 have been coerced, the overarching issue being having to take care of my parents. Major decisions since have not been freely made; it’s sort of like having been backed into a corner”

      – I’m 35 now, and this is precisely where I’m going at this point. :-( If you could talk to your 35-year-old self from the perspective and experience you have now on this particular issue, what would you tell her?

      I WILL BE VERY GRATEFUL FOR ANY SUGGESTIONS.

  7. That’s a good suggestion for my self-therapizing too, perhaps.

    1- Accumulate savings and assets so as not to be as dependent as I am on job — i.e follow the advice to have enough to live decently on for 6 mos. saved up, all the time

    2- In my case, don’t give up travel to save money … I’ve recently realized it’s true, I’m not a real American, I’ve felt a lot more at home and more comfortable in S.A. since I was 24 if not sooner, and it’s bad for me to force myself to stay here and be good

    3- Let my father scream and my mother cry … realize that while their pain may be real and it is focused on me, I did not cause / cannot control or cure it; no amount of sacrifice on my part will make a difference … this goes for other people as well

    4- Never do anything out of pity or guilt

    5- Never accept less than the very best

    6- Always do as you see best / follow your gut feeling, even if this goes against standard advice

    *7- My most major downfall has been following standard academic advice, like what our friend Jonathan dispenses — it’s fine if you didn’t have people in college and graduate school who dispensed that advice, but if you try to flagellate yourself with it when it is far too elementary and thus not on point, it’s disfiguring torture

    …off the top of my head those are some ideas but I’ll think about it for myself as I go around today…

    • This is so helpful. You have no idea how much I appreciate this. Thank you, thank, thank you, dear friend. I will now start memorizing these points.

      I now feel a lot less alone, lost and terrified about my situation.

      • Here’s another key one I did not learn as a young person – have a consulting or some kind of side business, or side investment that makes money.

        • “Here’s another key one I did not learn as a young person – have a consulting or some kind of side business, or side investment that makes money.”

          – That’s exactly what I’ve started doing recently! I think I’m on the right way but at the very start of it.

  8. P.S. At 35 I sought the advice of a therapist to help me finish escaping from the parent torture.

    He thought my various achievements – the PhD, the good job, the life in a city I liked, etc. – were compensations for some terrible inadequacy.

    I couldn’t undo the PhD but I could lose the job and the city, and renounce research.

    Only then would I have taken away enough furniture, so to speak, to see my real pain and cure it.

    Amazingly, I did as he said and it has caused me a great deal of pain and trouble.

    So I would say the opposite of what he said – I’d say congratulations and things like that.

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