I have an addictive personality. I don’t just like something…I LOOOOOVE something. And I want everyone to love it, too. I’ve been told that my excitement can come across as pushy, aggressive, and judgmental at times, so I’ve been working on scaling that back a bit. But to be completely honest, I’ve been “working on” a lot. From being more vulnerable to being less judgmental to communicating more clearly to improving my running pace to having a flatter stomach to writing more often to being a better listener to eating less sugar to blah blah blah. You get the idea. It’s f***ing exhausting and I don’t know how to give myself a break.
I believe that my obsession with change is linked to my relationship with self destruction. I’m not good enough at XYZ, but with a little bit of work, I can master it. I’ll be so much happier when I’m “there”. For awhile, I even had an actual check list of things I’m “working on”. This is a dangerous game to play for someone who struggles with addiction and self-medication. When I didn’t feel like I was enough, I cried on Jack Daniel’s shoulder. I loved getting hammered then talking about how I’m going to change the world.
Self help books came to me at a time when I was leaving my home town, graduating college, partying hard, and starting at lululemon. A few weeks into my new job, my manager gave me a copy of The Rhythm of Life by Matthew Kelly. In this book, he states “Commitment to the purpose of becoming the best version of ourselves is the singular key to living life meaningfully and passionately”. I highlighted it, underlined it, tweeted it, and Instagrammed it. That was my new motto and I tried incessantly to become “the best version of myself”. Now when I read that quote, it doesn’t sit well with me. I’m all for pushing myself, ditching comfort zones, and crushing goals, but what if the best version of myself is tired? What if she wants to eat ice cream and watch Sex and the City for 100th time? What if she wants to go shopping?
Since then, I’ve read Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, Spirit Junkie by Gabby Bernstein, Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar, Focal Points and GOALS! by Brian Tracy, The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck, Rock N’ Roll Your Way to Happy by Shemane Nugent, and much more. I overdosed on self-help books, waiting for them to cure me, to fix me, to make me perfect. I was desperate for their words to heal my internal wounds. While reading these books, I felt inspired and capable of anything. This is a good feeling to have, but I let it affect me so much that I convinced myself that I wasn’t good enough until I “made it”. Living in this exhausting world of destination addiction, or being happy only when I reached somewhere else in my life, was impossible to maintain. Every goal I accomplished was sub-par to my BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). I won’t be happy until I’m published in Rolling Stone. I won’t be successful until I’ve cohosted an event with Gabby Bernstein. I won’t be a real writer until I’ve written book. I can’t help people unless I’m perfect.
I’m still passionate about personal growth, but words like “better”, “more”, and “development” are so loaded to me these days. I feel like any words associated with comparison set me up to fail. “Balance”, “time management”, and “be present” tend to resonate more with me. Yes, I know I said more.
Let me be clear that I am not bashing self help books. They’ve truly helped me overcome many personal obstacles, but my reliance on them also created some new issues. I’m not sure I would have started this blog without Brene’s research on vulnerability in Daring Greatly. Reading GOALS! on my EuroTrip inspired me to move to New York City. Spirit Junkie made me realize that talking about addiction is not only OK, but empowering.
My dependence on self help books was the same as my dependence on alcohol. They were there for me when I was feeling low and wanted to escape or become someone new. Now that I’m nearly six months into sobriety, I’ve learned that I’m pretty damn great. I’ll continue to browse the self-help section of book stores. From time to time, I’ll preach the gospel of Gabby Bernstein. I’ll probably even keep posting
annoying motivational quotes on Instagram. The difference now is that I’ve been on both sides and I know that change is continent upon the acceptance of who I am right now.
I still wanna get better, but not better better better BETTER…
photo cred: Alli Knoth of GuaranteedGiddy.com