I felt an inclination to make this post title more specific. To add something like “while working full time” or “in tech.” Going deeper, maybe “as a result of repressing your sexuality due to your environment for most of your life.” You know, something like that. For the most part, though, I think it’s just plain old dealing with mental health! We’ve all got environments or situations that challenge us.
By no means have I dealt with this or forever addressed these issues. Writing this is merely just a checkpoint on a winding path. I’ve recently really dug into some of these though, and I feel like I’ve made progress. I’ve always fancied myself a thinking person, so it’s frustrating to think that I didn’t “figure this out” earlier. But sometimes, you just can’t get out of your own way.
Oh, judgement, ye mostly useless little tool. For so long, I had it tied up with my work in my head. I thought that I needed to hold on to judgement as a tool in order to be effective at my job. If I couldn’t sit around determining what was in and what was out, how was I to make good calls at work? Turns out, that’s a big yikes!
When we judge other things, we judge ourselves. When I have strict expectations for the world around me, of course I’m going to apply that to myself as well. When we just let the world be, so too can we just let ourselves be. And life will go on.
My work hasn’t suffered. The judgement that I applied to myself and the judgement that I carried at work were the same, of course. But it wasn’t tied to my work output in the way that I thought it was. Yes, I need to judge whether something is a good idea or not, but carrying judgement about things outside of my control is not helpful.
Being Cool and Feeding Ego
I have made far too many decisions in the name of looking cool. I drive a sporty car, and when I have been asked about its engine, I don’t have much to say. Now, I’m not saying that you need to know every detail in order to drive one, but it just shows that wasn’t about the car itself for me. It was for how it made me look. Turns out, I look pretty foolish. Not what I was going for.
In internet culture, it’s all about ego. I feel like this has been normalized in a way that is hard to clearly see. We have a profile photo in innumerable places, placed every lovingly next to our name and witty bio. This is ego. Not everyone needs to be commoditized like this. Removing myself from all social media was the right decision for me for many reasons, but to stop feeding my ego may have been the most effective.
Fear of looking uncool. Fear of not living up to other people’s expectations. Fear of being left out. Fear of regret. Fear of how fearful I was!
Fear of commitment. Saying yes to something is scary. It’s vulnerable. It’s also where life happens. By being too scared to jump in with both feet, we miss out. Then we set off a whole other set of fears! When we are not ready or excited, it’s best to say no, but sometimes the your ‘yes’ is buried deep under fear or ego or judgement and it’s masquerading as a ‘no.’
I think that fear may be the trickiest of all, because I regularly do things that scare me. Looking back, I tell myself that I have a handle on fear because of those times. But it’s not those times that really have the largest impact. It’s the everyday fear. It was leaving product out of my hair and going out in public. It was being unafraid of how the stories of my past made me look.
Spending time reflecting on each of these has helped me with my mental health. There is more to do and more to think about, but this is progress. For that, I’m grateful. Hopefully something here has given you something to think about or at least a new perspective.