Monday, June 13, 2016

Forever Falling Short

When you stop writing regularly, it’s hard to know where to start. I have lived in my condo for about 10 months now, and I haven’t even written about the process of buying it, cleaning it, moving in, fixing it up, or any of that stuff. And buying your first home is sort of, you know, a milestone?

I guess right now I need to write because I have a lot to be grateful for. Last Monday, I got a job at 24 Hour Fitness—doing a practice initial session with the fitness manager, and then interviewing with the club manager. My background check went through on Friday, and my employee number came through today. So I finally get to start tomorrow.

Last Wednesday, June 8 at 10 AM, I had a finalist interview with the CEO, President, and CFO of a local company. They had told me they were trying to build up a pool of final candidates. I thought there were at least a few people in the running. But later that day, I received a call offering me the position as executive assistant to these three gentlemen. I excitedly accepted the offer. It will be a great job--one where I get to put my best skills to use, and where teenage hormones are not a part of my day.

That night, on my “On This Day” memories in Facebook, I saw that I had been offered the job at Thomas Jefferson Junior High on the same day six years prior. That was a really cool full circle moment.

I went in on June 9 to resign my position at Jefferson.

I worked really hard on my resume for the position I received. I completely recreated it from scratch per my cousin’s suggestion.

I also worked really hard on my personal training certification since January, and consider it a huge blessing that I passed the test.

I’ve worked really hard in general to chase after the things I want.

I’ve felt beyond blessed lately as I look at all of these things falling into place—all of these changes that I’ve worked toward and wanted so badly so that I could leave the classroom confidently. I am so grateful for how everything has worked out.

And then…
- I make another mistake after having worked really hard to make everything right.
- I almost hit someone on the road on 900 east today in trying to get over to the right lane (I checked my mirror and honestly didn’t see her—complete accident—thankfully she saw me)

and that got me into a downward spiral of guilt, and then…
- I think about the things I’ve said, especially about others, either jokingly or in frustration, and how those things don’t line up with the person I want to be.
- I think about the motorcyclist in front of me last week who flipped me off, even though I hadn’t meant to do anything to upset him. I still am not sure why he was so mad, but I feel bad still.
- I think about the guy in the crosswalk six months ago who I didn’t see in the dark who yelled the F word at me. I honestly didn’t see him.
- I think of the grape tomatoes that spilled all over near the checkout stand at Smith’s, and how I should’ve stayed to clean them up because the cashier was so, so busy (I apologized the next time I saw him, by the way).
- I think of the people who I may have disappointed or hurt or frustrated unintentionally.
- I think of the things I get frustrated with in others (particularly roommates) and how at one point I didn’t know the things I know now (I put a chicken carcass in the kitchen trash instead of taking it to the dumpster and stunk up the apartment—duh, Janae!).

And it goes on and on and on—back to things I still feel bad about that I did as a teenager.

One thing I think is strongly relevant to this internal dialogue is that I consider myself to be an extremely considerate person. So when I do things that are inconsiderate or that have inconvenienced or hurt others, I feel horribly guilty. For example, I see people on the road who are about to miss their turn. Rather than continuing forward and turning around somewhere else, they decide to stop traffic so they can get over to make that last-second turn. The fact that this person has now inconvenienced a lot of people rather than figuring out another way to solve the problem just blows my mind.

There are some downsides to my conscientiousness.
1. I get extremely frustrated by and impatient with others who are not as considerate. I can’t imagine making other people suffer for my own errors. So then I make jokes or comments about their idiocy or how they’ve annoyed me. Then I feel like a jerk later. Like now.
2. When I make mistakes that put someone out in some way, even by total accident, I feel awful about them for days, weeks, months, and years (see the list above).

I am not sure what to do about the guilt that I feel about things that happened years ago. Does anyone have tips for the chronically guilty? I want counseling to be free.

All I know is that today I feel kind of worthless, and very undeserving of all of the good things that have been happening in my life. It’s like I get all of these blessings and then turn around and be an idiot again, and it feels a little like slapping my Father in Heaven in the face. And I feel like some kind of fraud for all of the good things people might think of me—like I’ve deceived or tricked people in some way, to think I’m better than I really am. Like if they really knew me, they wouldn’t like me or respect me.

The logical part of my mind tells me that I am trying. I am trying really hard. And I will always come up short because I am human. I have worth, even when I make mistakes. I remind myself that Heavenly Father rewards effort. But the other part of me is winning today—the part that says I am undeserving, and I can be so much better, do so much better.

So which side wins? The side I feed. I need to tell myself that I am the person I want to be. I am a kind person, a generous person, a person with integrity, a person who inspires and leads—and then I will become those things. With a little effort and a lot of grace, I will become those things.


Brett said...

Oh man... Janae... I relate. A lot. So much. It's difficult to put succinctly, but here's my best effort: I have OCD, a type sometimes called scrupulosity. Have we ever talked about this? I'm not saying you have it, too, but I am saying we have a lot in common here. I had a lot of good therapy and participated in a meditation group. This may not be as powerful out of context, but a turning point for me was when the meditation group leader (a psychologist) said, "Brett, I want you to feel guilty this week." I responded with a laugh and something like, "You mean like always?" He said, "No, I want you to feel guilty and just feel it. Don't do anything about it. Just embrace it and let it stay as long as it wants. If you've truly done something wrong and my advice somehow makes you unworthy, I will ask God to give me the blame. Please just feel guilty this week." So that Sunday I passed the sacrament unworthily. We were in the same ward, btw. It was painful. To compound my unworthiness with more unworthiness. I started mentally compiling a list of all the things I needed to fix or repent of. But I kept not doing it. I just kept feeling the pain. And then... I forgot one. My list had gotten too long. I FORGOT ONE. That's when I realized... the whole thing was a lie! If there was something I truly needed to address, Heavenly Father would bring it to my mind. But he didn't. And he never wanted me to feel bad in the first place. It was all in my head. It wasn't real!

I know our scenarios aren't identical, but I'm telling you... it's a big, fat lie. I shook my head when I read the part about slapping Heavenly Father in the face. NO WAY. Even if you literally slapped Jesus in the face, the thing that would cause him sorrow would be if you didn't accept his forgiveness. You are wonderful, mistakes and bad decisions included.

When I feel guilty now, I pause and embrace it. I breathe deeply and feel it as much as I can. In the words of my sister, I hug the monster. If you fear or dread the monster, it gets more scary and more powerful. If you hug it, it loses its power... though at first it takes a while, and the goal can't be to overcome the monster. Just to embrace it. I remember that sounding crazy at first. My therapist even said "It probably sounds like I'm asking you to jump into a bottomless pit." He was so understanding and loving. He gave me a hug after that session and said he was sorry to ask me to do something so difficult. But he said instead of asking, "Why me?" try asking "Why not me?" and just see what actually is at the bottom of that pit.

I remember the first day I woke up not feeling worthless. I missed the monster. I was honestly, truthfully sad that I didn't have the opportunity to embrace my pain. I just got up and lived my life. Now, like I said, when the monster comes back, I breathe deeply and embrace the feeling. I let my thoughts flow and find their root. And it's usually just a lie. Silly monster. You can make me feel feelings, but I'm not calling them "bad." I'm calling them mine. Let's go, buddy old monster. Hang out as long as you want. There is nothing I need to do about you. Just leave whenever. Or stay. Whatever.

Ha... so "succinct," huh? Sorry if some of this is irrelevant. Hopefully not all of it is. :)

Brett said...

p.s. I mentioned mistakes and bad decisions. Those are two different things, you know! One of them involves zero *real* guilt. The other can be forgiven instantly.