Hey I don’t think it’s childish at all! Or, you know, maybe it is. But I think kids have something to teach us in this regard. To be proud of an achievement without judging all over it, I know that’s something I haven’t done a ton of since I was a kid.
I think you just touched on a large reason why your posts have resonated with me despite the face-value differences. I can relate to what you’re saying. My striving has been more in the academic/professional areas of my life, but I have definitely come to realize there’s a big difference between my achievement and my subsequent experience of that achievement. I’ve been able to get a lot done in my life telling myself (sometimes just subconsciously) that I’ll feel a certain way about myself once I’ve reached a certain goal, and I’m not sure it’s ever been true. Achievements that seemed so lofty look so mundane once I’ve reached them. And the other thing I’ve realized is that a lot of people who are at the top of any field have been chased up there by their own emotional demons, so I try to keep that in mind to avoid comparing myself too harshly. I’ve learned the “top” is full of people coping with imposter syndrome, just like me. These are all recent insights though, I spent plenty of time (and still do) working through these feelings.
I’ll give you the most obvious example from my own life. I haven’t shared a ton of personal stuff on the forum yet, but your courage and honesty have inspired me. I’m a veterinarian. It’s no secret that getting into vet school in the US is difficult, especially to out-of-state schools, which were mostly the schools I was interested in. About a year after some major trauma in my life (my husband passed away at age 34, story for another time) and flailing about for new reason to be alive, I decided to switch careers and threw myself into becoming a vet. I basically did every single thing I could think of to make myself the perfect applicant, getting straight A’s in the pre-requisite courses and a near perfect GRE score. I got into every school I applied to. I was told by a member of the admissions committee during my first year in vet school that in their process of ranking applicants (based on grades, GRE, recommendations and personal statement), I had been at the top. #1. Like, if they could only admit one student that year, it would have been me. Did any of this make me feel like I belonged there, like I deserved it? Nope. If I was congratulating myself for anything, it was for being so good at fooling the admissions people into thinking I was a good candidate. Although it takes some deep searching to acknowledge this, I still feel like I fooled them, many years after I’ve graduated.
And I remember one of my classmates, who was admitted off the waitlist, who knew about the ranking even though it was supposed to be confidential. (She worked in the lab of one of our profs who was on the committee.) A couple of times during vet school she made comments to me, probably because of her own self-doubt (completely undeserved, she is a specialist now and far more accomplished than me) that it must be nice to be so “believed in” by the faculty. I never responded the way I wanted to, because I could tell it came from a painful place for her, but her comments caused me pain too. What I really wanted to say was, “maybe you weren’t the candidate I was because your husband is alive and you have a fuller life with concerns other than school.” (Harsh, I know.)
So, I guess what I’m getting at is… It took me a while to learn it but just as they say you can’t outrun a bad diet, I can’t “out-achieve” a faulty sense of self-worth. They are two different things entirely. Stuff like working on my health, like keto, are nice double-whammies where I’ve gotten both physical benefits and emotional benefits, but weight loss (or any achievement) isn’t going to totally fix the depression and crippling anxiety that come with my baggage. So I have to deal with them separately, so far I do this with meditation, a lot of self-help reading, and forcing myself to spend quality face-to-face time with people who care about me (which has been something I’ve been neglecting for a couple of years). I think you are much younger than me but you seem to have already sensed the need to deal with issues of self-worth in a multimodal way, and there’s a lot to be said for that. I’ve gotten a lot of comfort and insight from your contributions, there’s a generosity of spirit in you that’s unique, I hope you know that and appreciate that about yourself. I sure appreciate it.
Oh, and sorry for taking over your progress thread.