Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The old me wasn't so great, either

I've been having those days where I cook and eat very well, and get nothing else done.  At least it feels like "nothing".  But that's not entirely accurate; I do get some stuff done.  Not as much as I'd like, but still.

I've been thinking about this more, and have concluded that I always feel like I'm not getting enough done because I compare myself not only to others, but to my OLD SELF.  Namely, the person I was in college.  I always took a full course load, made good grades, did extracurriculars, worked at least one part-time job, volunteered, etc. etc.  I'm not making this comparison in a very direct and conscious way, but I know it's there because I frequently find myself wondering why I'm not more driven, competitive, and goal-oriented, "the way I used to be."  Maybe worrying about it more than wondering about it, to be honest.

True, I'd like to have some of that spark back.

But this is the other half of the story: I was incredibly unhealthy throughout college.  I was chronically sleep deprived and stressed to the max.  I ate horribly and deepened my binge eating disorder a great deal during those years.  In retrospect, I needed help with depression and anxiety, but I did not seek it out.  I was more sensitive, insecure, jealous, and hostile at that time.  (I know that sounds like a weird mix of traits, but I was.)  I had a serious problem with compulsive skin picking, a behavior similar to trichotillomania.  I didn't take care of my health in other ways too, and I had periods of sickness to show for it.

I paid a high price for my accomplishments and productivity.  Something had to give eventually, and it did: I crashed and burned after completing my master's degree.  I experienced total career derailment; I'm still trying to pick up the pieces and relaunch that part of my life.  I'm still trying to heal my body and rewire my mind and learn different, healthier ways of interacting with people too.    

So I know I cannot really go back to being "my old self" without hurting myself.  And that's just unacceptable.  Somehow I've got to integrate the healthier me of today with the good parts of who I used to be (again, it was almost entirely related to career/professional efforts).  I've got to find a balance, and my new life formula needs to work with my new reality of being a homeowner, wife, and mother, too.  Once I figure this out, I'll be able to get more things done--especially more meaningful things done--WITHOUT hurting or neglecting myself.  And after everything I've learned firsthand, that's the only kind of productivity I want.

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