This Post-Grad Life: Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself, Girl
I don’t know who I want to succeed more, me or Justin Beiber. The fact J-Beebs sold out Madison Square Garden at the ripe age of sixteen puts me in a really difficult position with my personal standards. And the fact I’m comparing my life to a pre-pubescent child puts me in a really difficult position with my personal reputation.
All throughout my college life, I felt like I was being shoved into a giant, human cannon. I was constantly finding ways to shove myself, my tasty thighs, my college-ego, my giant boobs, my reputation, my GPA, into a compact space. That’s a lot of bullsh*t to squeeze inside something that is eventually going to catapult me into the real world unprepared. Thanks a million, life cannon.
After being shot into the real world, I picked up a dirty habit. While being thrown into something I was totally unprepared for (ehem, hey real world! It’s a pleasure!) it became nearly impossible to find any satisfaction in my life. I was so overwhelmed with emotions and goals, I became an angry, judgmental girl. And who saw the brunt of all that negativity?
Lately, I have become increasingly hard on myself. I never acquired this nasty habit while I was in college – I was completely self-involved with surviving day by day, enjoying every moment, and not giving a shitake mushroom about what people thought of my sexy time hair while I walked past church service on Sunday morning. Did I just give a shitake mushroom shout-out in this post?
Regardless, since graduation I’ve been insanely hard on myself. With everything. Because I haven’t attained any life goals yet as I expected and hoped, I’ve had a hard-on for perfecting my every action, relationship, personal flaw and situation. To top it off, I’ve been constantly trying to please everyone that is involved with my life; friends, family, co-workers…
A few of my girlfriends moved to Spain to teach for a year. Although I know they will always love me, I never want to let them down by failing to communicate with them enough. Since I’m not surrounded by my friends on campus, I pressure myself to communicate with them as much as (and probably more than) humanly possible. Still, I never feel like I’m doing enough and wake up in a cold sweat, afraid that they’re mad at me or have completely forgotten about me.
And that’s only the beginning…
I’m starting a new job and as yet another thing at which I want to excel, the thought of screwing up at all scares the pulp out of me. I’m always nervous I’m going to trip, make a mistake or misjudge something. I understand we all make mistakes but I can’t help thinking that during this point in my life I can’t make mistakes. I can’t get it out of my head that even the smallest glitch in the process could screw up a friendship, a job, an opportunity…anything. Somehow, I’m hard on myself because in order to please me, I have to please others or the goals others expect me to reach. Doesn’t that seem silly? Why do I feel like I need to go through other outlets to find personal satisfaction?
In the whirlwind brain slosh that are my worries, I rip myself apart on a daily basis. I have so many stress zits, and the skin on my fingernails looks like a battlefield. I’m constantly holding my own personal evaluations, judging how well I’m doing.
I think the constant pressure to be perfect has something to do with being truly independent for the first time. In college, I was surrounded by others. Although I thought I was all on my own, I really had a collective group of people to help define who I was. After college, I have myself and it’s up to me and me alone to make my now and my future happen. That puts a lot of pressure on one young and ruthlessly determined human being. I no longer have others to aid in accomplishing goals; I have my single self to worry about and that’s the scariest thing in the world.
I recently learned about the French tradition to celebrate what other people consider your flaws. They can be physical flaws, or even emotional flaws. For example, if you’re short you should wear flats and embrace something others don’t necessarily view as beautiful. When I do this and embrace my flaws, I no longer worry. I no longer waste my time and emotional energy to consider what others think about my differences, constantly try to change them, or feel the relentless need to please others with my accomplishments and decisions. I shouldn’t be afraid to have flaws or admit them; they define who I am, not anyone else.
We learned this in grade school, peepsies. Take it from Alice and Wonderland:
“You cannot live life to please others, the choice must be yours; because when you step out to fight that creature, you will step out alone.”
On that note, when you’re finished reading this, run over to the nearest mirror you own (or pick up your iPhone…my personal mirror of choice) look at yourself and say this out loud: “You’re doing the best you can. Good job, b*tch!” Take it from me, if you do that often enough, eventually you’ll believe it. And that makes for a much more pleasant and stress-free existence.
Read more about the ups and downs of Brittany’s post-grad life and empathize with her here.