For a long time I felt my self-worth was outside of me, in all that I did and received back in the process, as a form of recognition or a reward:
- It was all about others and keeping them happy with NO time for me
- It was in multi-tasking, in working hard towards being the best I could be in all aspects of life
- It was all about things that I would achieve on my TO DO list in all my roles – as a child, sister, daughter, friend, mother, wife, employee…
That’s what I thought was the way to live: a life driven by doing/achieving and being recognised constantly in all that I did!
As a child and a student growing up:
From a young age, it was in achieving that I would be recognised most/seen. From the time when we are young we are encouraged and recognised for all that we achieve on the outside and that felt good.
Each year I would set myself to do better in all aspects of my education, sports, music, drama and whatever I could get myself involved in, so I could be seen by my teachers, parents and friends to be unique or talented or clever by my achievements. I did it from such a young age…
I used to think that once I finished a year in school/high school/university etc. I wouldn’t feel the pressure to perform and work soo hard and push way beyond my capacity, just to see myself doing it again the following year. After all, I was so good at so many things! The thing is that I would then need to keep up with my performance year after year. If I didn’t, I would not only let others down, but mainly let myself down. I was my hardest critique.
One can imagine how to maintain the ‘have it all’ facade would get more challenging from primary school to high school and then to University. At university, the workload was enormous and I was also involved in a few clubs to organise social events. I did it at the stake of my body with not much sleep as that felt like the only way at the time. All this for what? To be seen as a good student…
As a sister:
I was the eldest – a ‘good older sister’ and I would ignore my feeling of being tired, sleepy and stay up at night listening to my sisters or brothers and sisters. I would feel guilty if I feel asleep accidentally! All for what?? To be seen as a good and supportive sister…
As a daughter:
I chose to be the ‘good girl’. For me, this meant not speaking against parents/adults even if it meant expressing truth (which I would and used to get into trouble for), always help out (whether you want to or not) and listen to your parents, as they are always right! Since you are the eldest, it’s your responsibility to be the role model! Wow! So much pressure to live up to!
As a friend:
I always used to magically appear in times of disputes between friends or partners. Such a good friend and a peacemaker! Never had many conflicts of my own! Did I allow time to feel me or know me, I wonder?
As an employee:
It’s been about hard work, finishing and meeting deadlines (no matter what) – produce work in shorter timeframes and put in extra hours, staying late, giving up social events and yeah, I was recognised. All this was at the expense of my health, my social and family life. Living a ‘work hard and play hard’ kind of attitude – you can have it all! All for what?? To be tagged as a good employee…
As a wife:
I adopted what I felt society would consider a good wife would do: put meals on the table every day, groom myself, keep the house tidy, entertaining etc. I would support my partner in all his adventures and the things he wanted to achieve, but would not have the same support for myself and for something that I might want to do as well. All for what??? To be seen as a good wife…
As a mother:
I was the so called ‘soccer mum’, always running around everywhere for kids’ activities, thinking that was good for them and all the multitasking would make me a really good mother. We were always rushing around, stressed for time to make it to places (getting to classes, come home, do homework, dinner, bath, read, bed… it was all very tightly scheduled). These activities seemed all enjoyable, but my To-Do-and-Achieve list for kids did not fill me, or the kids up. It actually left me feeling drained, tired, resentful and not at all happy and of course, the kids felt the stress too. All for what??? To be seen as a good mum, a super mum…
I was so entrenched in doing all my roles in life. On the outside, I was this Super woman who could do it all, but inside I was feeling exhausted, stressed and resentful for all I had to do and always running from one role to another. I had lost sight of the actual ME.
The recognition I was receiving from the roles I was performing made me do it even more, with more force at the cost of my health and well-being.
Sometimes you get seen and recognised and sometimes you don’t. When you are seen for all these things that you have done/performed, you forget how much you had to push yourself and work hard to get there. All this for what?
I was trying to fill the emptiness I was feeling inside with the things I did and had to keep doing, looking for recognition on things outside of me. Any happiness I would feel was always momentary as the excitement of an achievement would pass in a day and I would be left with my emptiness to do/achieve/get recognised again. The cycle was never ending…
… Until I was forced to stop. And I did… And I have changed so much since then to now. From a Super Doing woman to a Super Loving woman, from looking outside of myself for recognition to finding my self worth in the growing appreciation of myself. I’ll tell you the details in my next blog. Watch this space!
by: Pinky, Software Engineer, Brisbane, Australia
You may also like Part 2 of this Blog: Finding my self-worth: Is there more to me than all that I do?