by: Sarah B
How to disconnect the value I place on myself from the opinions of others.
So I have this horrible habit of allowing my feelings of self-worth to be dictated and affected by the opinions other people have of me. This is especially the case when it comes to the opposite sex. There’s just something about men (I’m sure it has to do with weird societal gender dynamic/expectation things) that brings out the ultimate perfectionist in me in a way women do not and whenever I fall short of this perfection I am constantly trying to reach (and I inevitably always fall short), I end up in this sickening downward spiral of self-loathing and disappointment and “why can’t I be the prettiest/funniest/coolest/smartest/etc girl ever so that so-and-so will like me?”
It’s disgusting and I need to stop. Because regardless of what everyone else says or thinks or feels about me, I am a pretty awesome person with a lot to offer to the world.
How to stop investing in people who will not invest in me.
I am guilty of having a bit of one of those pesky ‘savior complexes’ which I am attempting to be rid of once and for all. I tend to want to “help” or “save” the people I date. Which is really hard because:
- They are sociopaths, emotionally abusive, or are in other ways harmful to my mental and/or emotional health.
- They do not challenge me intellectually. (And oh my god is this important. I don’t care what level of formal education you have, honestly, but if I can’t talk to you about subjects like politics and spirituality etc, it’s just not going to happen)
- They have serious emotional problems that have nothing to do with me that I cannot possibly help with (this applies to everyone I’ve ever dated ever).
I really need to stop even thinking about dating, honestly. I have always been the pursuer, never the pursued, and everyone I have ever pursued has ended up being the wrong choice for whatever reason (see above). I need to stop. I need to focus on myself and on my friendships, which I feel I have neglected over the years. If it happens, if I meet the right lady or fella, then I am totally open to seeing where it goes. But I need to let it happen instead of trying to make it happen. It’s hard to do, especially for women I think, because I think there is constant external pressure to be in some way romantically/sexually linked to someone, whether it’s through a relationship, someone having a crush on you, you having a crush on someone else, casual sex, nonstop flirting, whatever. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with these things, but I don’t think we should partake in them because we feel pressured to do so. I know there are plenty of people, especially women, who must feel the same way that I do. Society still puts so much pressure on women to be in a romantic relationship, because we are somehow lacking if we are by ourselves. We are somehow incomplete or weird or future cat-ladies. And I don’t know about you guys, but I’d like to think that I am 100% complete all on my own, thankyouverymuch.
How to not isolate myself when I’m sad or stressed out.
I have this bad habit of randomly disappearing from the face of the earth when I am stressed out, which is the majority of the time. I’m always stressed about something, whether it’s my grades, my impending graduation, the thought of having to find a big-person job once I graduate, finding a roommate for next year (and seriously, if any of you know me and either are looking for an awesome roommate/know someone who is looking for an awesome roommate, hit me up), my weight, my bank account… The list never ends, really.
Disappearing doesn’t help though. Isolating myself and not talking to any of my friends isn’t healthy. When I’m stressed out, I should be spending more time with my friends. I should be staying active, going out, going to the gym, having movie nights with the people I care about. But instead I lock myself away and constantly mill over my thoughts and worries. It’s not accomplishing anything, and it just makes me sadder and more stressed out.
With this, I’m going to apologize to the friends I have ever pushed away due to my constantly-high stress levels. You have no idea how important you all are to me, and how much I need you guys. Thank you for always being there. And let’s all hang out soon, okay? I miss you all.
How to stop stressing out about things I have no control over.
Okay, I’ll admit it. I am awful in situations in which I am powerless. I don’t deal well with situations that make me feel weak or incompetent or powerless, and there are a lot of situations in life from which these feelings inevitably arise and I need to learn to accept this. I need to buck up and get over it. I need to spend more time counting my blessings and being grateful and optimistic and happy about all the things and people I am blessed with instead of stressing out about situations that I CANNOT DO ANYTHING ABOUT.
My dad always quotes Mickey Rivers, a former baseball player for the Texas Rangers. He always paraphrases what Rivers said: that there’s no use worrying in life because there are two types of situations: those we can control and those we can’t. And if we can control a situation, why worry about it? And if we can’t control a situation, why worry about it?
That some people do not deserve my forgiveness.
It’s okay not to forgive everyone. It’s okay to burn bridges. Sometimes ending something permanently is necessary for my wellbeing.
How to put myself first.
I would elaborate on this if I could, but I think it’s pretty self-explanatory. I literally don’t know how to put myself before other people, and this has gotten me into more trouble and awkward/hurtful situations than I can (or even want to) think of right now.
It’s also something I really need to figure out how to do, because my happiness and physical/mental/emotional health should be absolutely paramount.
That not all women are like my ex-girlfriend.
Not to air out all my dirty laundry, but this girl did a real number on my heart. I’m not going to go into details about the problems we had during our relationship, but I will say that I endured emotional abuse and plenty of manipulation. I don’t think she meant to be abusive, but at the end of the day I wasn’t treated the way I deserve to be treated. We dated for almost four years before she broke up with me without any warning while I was studying abroad in Mexico last winter. Then, two weeks later, while I was still in Mexico, she began dating her best friend. I cut her out of my life when she continued to try to control what I was doing/tried to get me to sleep with her/led me on while she was dating her new girlfriend. I’m immensely proud of myself to doing so.
I’m terrified of dating another woman. Which is really sad, because I know for a fact that there are a lot of really wonderful ones out there. I also know that it’s not fair for me to punish such a large part of my possible-dating-partner-person-whatever-pool just because I happened to date a bad egg. But I think it’s a matter of recovery, and I know I’ll get there someday.
Sarah B is currently a senior at DePaul University. Her major is in Art History with a concentration in Latin American Art and her accompanying minor is in Spanish. She is passionate about Latin American cultures, good tequila, learning, smush-faced animals, and the TV show Community because she and her sister are Abed and Troy, respectively. In her spare time she can be found reading various books that have no similarities in theme, wandering the city like a lost child, and watching funny videos on the internet.