(This is the Third in a multi part series on my personal journey with what I call perfectionism, you can find the first part in my profile just before this post. I give you the same disclaimer as before, this is pretty raw, you have been warned)
I have claimed it as my own for a long time.
I have created a reality in which since I was a small child I have felt that anxiety, that constant pressure in my chest, the constant pit in my stomach.
Note the word…created.
I was recently introduced to a concept that is rattling around in my brain pretty hard. It’s called the “looking glass self.” This particular concept states that as we grow we build a self based on how we think other people perceive us.
It’s been really interesting to reflect on that concept. Especially as it pertains to my anxiety.
Recently for the first time in my life a close friend questioned whether or not my anxiety was actually mine. For so long I have seen it as a core aspect of the person I am. And this friend called that into question. She brought up the possibility that maybe my anxiety was not a result of my hard wired nature, but that it was a result of all the chameleon-like behaviors that I had internalized.
In short that my anxiety was caused by me being out of alignment with myself based on me trying to be everything to everyone.
It was the first time in my life that the necessity of my anxiety was called into question.
The idea of being perfect, the idea that I can be “all the things for all the people all the time” has been a constant in my life, and based on the “looking glass self theory” I would see myself as simultaneously several people at once.
And if you feel like several people at once the logical response would be to feel anxious.
It would be natural to feel the things I feel all the time.
The tightness in my chest.
The pit in my stomach.
The endless thinking feedback loops.
All the things that I have always felt were simply a part of me.
What if I could live life without those?
What if I find a way to let go of all the “looking glass” selves I have been carrying around?
What if underneath all the perfection seeking there is just me?
That’s the conclusion I have come to.
My anxiety is not my reality.
I don’t have to keep it.
I simply have to let go of the different personas that I have created, which is not so simple, but it is possible. Because I have created all sorts of personas.
And they all have to go.
And thus begins the work of dismantling “The Representative.”
More on that tomorrow.