Well folks, it’s the day before my big exam. I think I am relatively confident but still a bit nervous. I think healthy fear is good fear. This test will not determine the rest of my life, or even my chances of getting into graduate school. It won’t make me worth more or less as a person. Even through college I always felt like my self worth was wrapped up in the grades that I earned. If I got a B instead of an A I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t smart. It’s always been black or white for me.
Today, as an adult, I am still guilty of judging myself on a scale. My self worth can be so wrapped up in what company I work for, what schools I went to and how much money I make. The problem is, I just don’t have the energy to be so worked up over these things that I don’t have 100% control over. And I know the truth. The truth is I am not worthless if I don’t make enough money or work for a company with no prestige. I am worth something because of WHO I am, not WHAT I do. And so are you.
Our identities can be so wrapped up in these labels, “I’m a lawyer, I’m a banker, I’m a waitress, I’m an actor, I’m a musician, I’m a writer.” No, that is not who you are. You may do those things to make money or you made do those things because they make you happy. YOU, my friend are a human being. Just like me.
My self worth is not dependent upon the clothes I wear or the purse I carry. It’s inside. When I was in active addiction I thought I had a bunch of self esteem and self worth. I measured myself by my athletic and academic achievements. All of that added up to one kickass person. I had friends, a boyfriend and a family who loved me. My professors respected me. It all added up on the outside. But on the inside I was dead. It took so much energy to maintain the grades, the athletic stamina, the lies I told my loved ones. I was crumbling on the inside and I used drugs and drank to either make things easier to handle or to escape the stress of it all.
And you know why I got clean? It wasn’t because I was done with the drugs and alcohol. It wasn’t because I wanted to be a different person. It was because everything was starting to crash down around me and I was not about to fail at my own life. When I used uppers to study I wouldn’t study at all. I went to practice wasted or hungover most of the time. I would go on a 4 day bender intending just to have 1 good night. I couldn’t keep up with the lies I was telling to everyone and to myself. I was trapped. And then right as I was approaching bottom, something greater than myself muttered something about wanting to get clean for good. And I listened.
Getting clean stripped me of all my illusions that I was worth something. It took away my magical power to get 10 things done at once. It revealed that in fact I had no friends, that all my family knew about me were lies. It revealed that I had to work a lot harder in life to achieve anything. Most of all, getting clean took away my weapon of self destruction. When I realized I wasn’t worth anything I had nothing to hurt myself with.Luckily there were some amazing people to love me until I could learn to love myself. My self worth started at zero and grew each day that I marked “clean” on my wall. My self worth was measured in keytags, in the meetings I went to, in the true friends I made.
Although I struggle to this day with my self esteem, my confidence and how much I am “worth.” I no longer put a huge stake in my bank account or my resume. I have real friends who really do love me and who have taught me how to love myself. I have a sponsor who is taking me through the steps and who believes that I can get better. I have a family who I can be honest with today. I have Leo, who laughs at my jokes and takes care of me when my head hurts so much I think it’s going to explode. But, even so my self worth isn’t measured by how many people care about me.
It’s measured in my actions on a simple level. Do I wake up every day with a goal and attempt to achieve it? Even if that goal is just taking a shower and brushing my teeth. If I say I will be on time to meet a friend, am I on time? Am I honest even when I could easily lie? Do I show up for my service positions in AA? Do I do my stepwork, call a newcomer, say a prayer? Doing these simple things on a daily basis helps me to learn more and more about who I am. I’m no longer a liar, a cheater, a thief. I may not be the most successful in my professional life, I may not be rich or famous. I may not be married or live in a penthouse apartment. But I am a better person than I was 4 years ago and hopefully better than yesterday.
No matter what the outcome of my exam tomorrow, I know more than I knew five months ago. I’ve learned a lot. The number on the screen won’t make me or break me, although I will surely be sad or happy for a while. And that is ok – to feel feelings, but my true character will hopefully shine through in how I re-action to whatever happens. If I do well – great. If I don’t – I will put my energy into trying again.
I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend! Head over to the Vueve Polo Tournament on Governor’s Island on Sunday afternoon if you want some free entertainment! I think Leo and I will be there for sure.
How do you measure your self worth?