07 December 2010

KtMac Confessions: Guilt and Inadequacy

It's been on my mind a lot lately.  And part of quite a few heart-to-hearts.  A lot. 

And it absolutely shatters my heart when I finally, raggedly, admit it to myself.

But I have to thank Joe for doggedly pointing out the absurdity of what I secretly knew in my heart all along.  Even if that tiny little voice got drowned out far too often for far too long.  

Years ago, long before I was really old enough to understand, I heard and completely related to Alanis Morissette's song Forgiven.

"You know how us Catholic girls can be
We make up for so much time
A little too late
I never forgot it, 
Confusing as it was
No fun with no guilt feelings..."

Because, even then, even when I was much too young to fully understand it, I knew exactly what was meant by the opening verse.  I was always confused.  I was perfect.  I was never good enough.  And no matter what, even when I had absolutely no reason, I always felt a vague sense of guilt anytime I was happy or enjoying myself.  

Over the years, I've joked about that Catholic guilt.  And how much it rules my life.  

But it is no joke. 

I don't know how or why I started listening to the few negative voices, mostly external before I finally internalized them deep down.  But I did.  Long before a young girl should.  And so I grew up with the feeling that no matter how much I accomplished, no matter how much I succeeded or enjoyed life or brought happiness to others, it was never good enough. 

I was not good enough.

Which, when I really stop and think about it, couldn't be further from the truth.  I know I'm not perfect.  And I no longer aspire to be perfect.  Perfection is exhausting.  But even without perfection, I am absolutely more than good enough.  

And, KtMac, it is not bragging to be bluntly honest with yourself. 

I am beautiful.  Not just okay, or cute, or pretty.  I am beautiful.  Inside and out. 

I am accomplished.  I graduated high school, with above a 4.0 GPA, despite losing all my hearing.  I graduated college early.  I had a Masters degree before I turned 23.  I studied Arabic for several years despite being legally deaf.  

I am driven.  I half-jokingly told a friend late one night as we walked by in college "I'm going to work there someday."  And less than a year later, I was working there.  I've held jobs where senior leaders not only listen to, but actively seek out my advice.  I have actively influenced global affairs.  I made myself so indispensable to my current company that I not only earned a promotion, but less than two months later, earned the right to work from home in another time zone.  And yet, I keep seeking out new ways to advance my career, right now, and someday.  I also seek out personal challenges from learning how to sew to kicking my ass in yoga. 

I am honest.  Even though I work from home, I still roll out of bed at 7 every morning so I can be available to my coworkers on their time zone.  If I occasionally take a half hour to go get myself some lunch, I work an extra half hour, even though no one would notice or care. If I find money on the street, it gets donated - to a bum, to the coin collection at McDonalds, or part of a larger donation. 

I am fiercely loyal.  Even when I shouldn't be.  I may take a while to warm up to someone, but once I do, I am fiercely loyal and protective for the rest of my life.  Even when the sentiments are not returned.  If you need me, I am always there. 

I am interesting.  I read just about anything under the sun.  I like to take pictures and find new ways of looking at the world.  Like most people, I am in awe of those who can easily start a conversation with strangers at a party.  I take longer to join in a conversation.  Partly because I want to make sure I am hearing and understanding the conversation, partly because I want whatever I say to actually contribute to the conversation, but when I speak up, people listen.  

I am relaxed wherever I go.  Even in situations where I may be uneasy at first, I always find a way to make myself comfortable.  Whether it's taking a benedryl and falling asleep in the middle of a village that was in the heart of the fighting in the Balkans war not that long ago or playing Kings all night in the middle of a homeless park in Tokyo or a few other situations I never want repeated to my parents, I take it in, I make sure I'm safe, and then I just relax and go with the flow.

I am comforting.  I bring happiness to others.  I try to leave everyone with a smile on their face as I walk away.  I make my home warm and welcoming.  I try to make everyone's life just a little better somehow.  I call my Grandma just to make her smile.  I handwrite letters.  I believe in thank you notes and flowers just because.  

I am an optimist.  I always walk looking up (except when there's ice).  I notice the little things.  I take great pleasure in the little things.  And encourage others to do so.  

And I love.  With all my heart.  With every little part of me.  I love.  And I am completely, unconditionally loved in return.  

So you know what, KtMac?  There is absolutely no reason for you to listen when you hear, "you're not good enough."    There's no room for guilt in your life.  

Who cares if there's someone who is more fashionable, or remembers the rules for euchre, or can mentally add up the tip faster, or is better at telling jokes, or seems like they have more friends, or sews perfectly while baking that chocolate souffle, or can go out dancing until 5 in the morning three nights in a row, or speaks more languages, or, or, or.....  

I am amazing too.  And I do not need to feel guilty for believing in myself.  

And you know what?  Step by step, I'm going to push the naysayers out of my life and out of my head.  There's no room for them anymore.  

There's too many dreams to chase and too much love for one more minute wasted on I'm not good enough.


Hails said...

how horrible is that I read your list and then felt guilty about how much more you have done with your life? AHH THE CATHOLIC GUILT IS ATTACKING ME TOO!
That being said, I completely understand how you feel. I feel like a giant failure most of the time. But I have to remind myself that I got things others are jealous of or would kill to have. I gotta remember IT'S ALL RELATIVE.
I love this post :)

KT Mac said...

Thanks Hails. I didn't mean to make you feel guilty! Damn Catholic guilt.

I was just trying to express how incredulous I am that I ever, even once, let someone make me feel like I wasn't good enough, nevermind all the times I truly have believed that. No more.

Mb said...

I know all too much about Catholic guilt :/

I love you. I love this post.

KT Mac said...

Thank you, Mb. I figured if anyone understood what I was trying to say, it would be you. I love you too!

Laura Marie said...

I love this. I love people who can own their accomplishments--because, like you, I have a guilt issue which means it isn't always so easy :)

xo Laura Marie

KT Mac said...

Thank you! And thank you for your great posts too! I loved yesterday's post so much.