Archive | March, 2008

Achievement Is Not Equal To Worth

24 Mar

WRITEOUS CHICKS Newsletter – March 2008

Last week, someone I just met said to me, “I checked out your blog.”  I was busy feeling flattered and sort-of-semi-quasi-famous that someone I didn’t know at all had taken time to look at my blog when she hit me with, “You haven’t updated it in a while…” and then went on to detail the concept of Blog Guilt which is, you know, self-explanatory.  I was totally annoyed (if I was experiencing the full range of my emotions I would say, I was f*cking pissed!).  I felt judged (or maybe I was judging myself?).  But despite the inner annoyance/rage that was erupting inside me, I just smiled and weakly offered, “Yeah, I’m taking a little break…got a lot going on….can’t do everything at once, you know?”  As my plastered-on smile faded…

In any case, I felt that my worth as a worthy human being who could update her blog on a consistent basis was being called into question.  And the thing is, I am hard on myself about a lot of things, but updating my blog is not one of them.  I have a full-time job plus my own business, and added to that my new project of making time for fun, so I cut myself some slack in this area.  But her comments got me thinking about the equation Your Worth = Number of Blog Posts x Frequency of Updates.

I am a workaholic that has been trying to wean myself off my addiction to work, being busy, and achieving, and what I have come to realize is that underneath the workaholism there is a belief that my worth as a human being is directly tied to my accomplishments, and the more I achieve, the better of a person I am.  I remember being in 9th grade and locking myself in my room on weekends to perfect my Earth Science report on radon, because then I would get into Princeton or Harvard, and then I would be happy/worthy.  Or when 8 years ago, after a horribly painful breakup, I deliberately threw myself into acting, spending all my free time sending out headshots, scouring Backstage, and going on auditions.  Because I didn’t have him, but I could maybe have fame and stardom, and when I was a movie star I’d be too busy and fabulous to shed tears over a stupid little breakup, and P.S. when I was a fabulous movie star he’d be sorry that he didn’t appreciate me when I was just a regular person, because of course I would be too busy going to premieres with Matt Damon or Ben Affleck to have time for him anymore.  Plus, putting my time and energy into work seemed like a more reliable investment than an emotionally unavailable man, in terms of potential payoff.

I committed to this plan wholeheartedly, until one unseasonably hot fall night when I found myself in New Jersey for an audition, only, I had gotten off at the wrong bus stop and was lost, and wearing a wool Banana Republic turtleneck and skirt that I was sweltering in, and I had skipped out on plans with my family to come to this audition, and the bus I had to get back on was pulling away, and I was running down some deserted, dark suburban New Jersey street after said bus crying, when I realized the fallacy of my plan. 

The other tricky thing about workaholism is that we live in a completely work-obsessed culture, and workaholism, like eating disorders, is contagious.  In college I remember being poised, open-mouthed, over a bagel when my roommate said, “Uh, did you know a bagel has 500 calories?” and the next thing I knew I had lost 20 pounds and was measuring out 3 perogies and 7 1/2 peas or some equivalent for dinner every night.  It’s a badge of honor to pull all-nighters and be ever-reachable via CrackBerry, so it can be hard to buck the system and declare, “I’ll be over there, getting a massage and sipping a Cosmo because I deserve it simply for being, and by the way, I’m leaving my cell phone at home so don’t even try to reach me.”  Because there is that judgment, possibly in part by others, probably in part by yourself, that you are not doing enough, which can quickly and easily lead to you just aren’t enough. 

Having seen that achievements, when achieved, don’t actually make me happy in and of themselves, I am unraveling this belief that worth is measured in accomplishments, and letting it go, knowing that I am just as worthwhile of a person if I hang out in sweats all day in a coffee shop reading a book purely for enjoyment as I am if I play I wrote wins a Pulitzer Prize.  Having seen that the striving never in fact ends, and as soon as I achieve one thing, I take about .02 seconds if that to celebrate my accomplishment and then move on to the next goal, I picture myself in a place beyond striving, perhaps with a yoga mat slung over my shoulder and an expression of pure Zen on my face, where I am free to be fully present with everyone and everything around me, in no hurry to get anywhere other than exactly where I am.  And whether I update my blog once a day or once a decade will have no bearing whatsoever on the equation of my worth.  

With love, 

Jen xoxoxo 

Copyright © 2008 by Jennifer Garam