The worst bullying: the one we do to ourselves
All my life, I’ve wanted to be different. Not someone else. Just different from who I was.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be as cool as the other kids were. They seemed to have more fun than me. Then I grew up. And I still wanted to be different.
As a woman, many times I felt I should be stronger, more powerful, less emotional. Even when I had the courage to deal with so many difficult situations throughout my life, and I didn’t give up, I felt I could be stronger. Other times, I believed I should be more friendly, more caring, more feminine. As a daughter, there were many times where I thought I wasn’t good enough. I just can’t count how many. Living far away from home since my early 20’s, I always felt I should be more present, supportive and closer than I ever was able to. For many years, I would blame myself for abandoning my family and I would cry alone, feeling guilty, even knowing I did what so many people do: I’ve chosen to live in a different city. What’s so wrong about that?
As a professional, I always saw myself as someone who was continuously trying to find her own path. There were many times where I felt I wasn’t qualified enough, I wasn’t meant to be successful and do what I loved the most. But others were. I’ve learned many things along the way, and I still study every day, because I needed to prove myself that I deserved more. And, even when people tell me I’ve done a great job, even when results amaze me, I still need to. So every time I create something, I question myself: “Is this enough? Can’t I do better?” It happens every time I draw something. Every time I write a story. Every time I put a website out there and people love it. Every time I send a final file to a client and even when I get the best feedback from him.
“Couldn’t I do better?” I probably could. We always can. That’s why, in the end, no matter what people say, no matter the results, I always get this feeling of frustration. Because for us, the picky ones, the perfectionists, it’s never enough. But the fact is: never is and never will be. Deal with that.
Somehow, we tend to believe we are meant to be and create amazing things. The amazing daughter. The amazing masterpiece. The amazing family and job. Or, at least, we tend to believe we actually may not be amazing, but we need to be better than we are. We grow up trying to amaze the world: not the whole world, but ours — our family, our closest friends, our colleagues, ourselves. We feel obligated to do so because we want to be proud of ourselves, because that’s what we call self-improvement. And we need to make the difference too. So we compete. Because we live in a world full of people, that job over there has just one chair, and only one ass fits in there.
And that’s why we keep pushing and talking to ourselves. Our inner voice, so damn dangerous, keeps criticizing everything we do: “You are better than this. Try harder. Be worth it.”
All my life, I’ve wanted to be different from who I was: a better version of myself. In my case, this doesn’t mean I’m unhappy or I don’t have self-esteem. It means I believe I could always be and do better. We all could. And, because of that belief in our capabilities, I’m almost never satisfied with what I’ve done. It’s never enough. It could always be better.
It’s like a marathon that never ends. Never. It’s overwhelming.
And I’m not alone in this. Am I?
Every once in a while, we all can’t help it: We genuinely believe we aren’t good enough, we don’t deserve it, we can’t do it. We give up. We don’t even try. And, when we try and we actually succeed, we keep telling ourselves we could do better, we are a fraud, we are going to fall, we don’t deserve to succeed, we aren’t as good as we should.
Secretly, we keep pushing ourselves through the nearly impossible.
Secretly, very secretly, we keep criticizing, intimidating and depreciating who we are, doing this kind of bullying to ourselves.
Because that’s what we do.
And we need to stop it.