My weekend of "sleeping" on the decision of whether to apply for a potentially exciting job evolved into a familiar frenzy of circular, useless thought and internal list-making, as well as reading everything I could get my hands on, including a book one of my journalism professors gave me, titled "Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes," which I have yet to finish for good reason.
I initially plunged into the book, knowing my super-speedy reading skills would yield another "achievement" of having yet another book to bring up at parties or feel particularly good about myself when I can tell others, "Yeah, I've read that," as if some book fairy was waiting on the last page to plant a huge gold star on my forehead for being on the fast track to personal enlightenment. There I go again. Fast as I can. Trying to get to the finish line before anyone knows I'm in the race. But something slowed me down. Something made me stop trying to rush through a book intended to help me enjoy, or at least cope, with life's gentle lulls.
Amid my mental commotion, I managed to pick up another book by Geneen Roth, "Women Food and God." That one was impossible NOT to read in about three hours - again, for good reason. It was a book I needed to read ten years ago. And it led to a few realizations:
The constant drive I feel to keep climbing whatever ladder happens to be in front of me at the moment has a lot to do with the fact that weight loss has somehow programmed to me think that PROGRESS is actually REPAIR for a person I've always been convinced is broken. I'm not skinny enough, so I "fix" myself with a rigid diet. I'm not smart enough, so I digest information at every possible opportunity to seem less inadequate. I haven't accomplished enough, so I keep seeking professional outlets for which to prove to a judgmental world that I'm aware of my shortcomings and want to overcome them.
This self-inflicted rat race has never been about personal growth; it was always about internal repair. And these moments of murky transition scream to my compulsions, saying, "Wait, there is no way that YOU could be good enough to slow down. You've never been good enough. What makes you think you are now? Keep pushing. Keep working. Keep killing yourself to prove you have value. It's the only way."
Any sort of educational, professional or personal structure I've ever maintained in my life was an excuse to keep a cage around Broken Me. I adhere to strict, torturous diets and workout plans because if I don't, Broken Me (who obviously can't be trusted) will screw up and gain weight. I maintain impossibly difficult schedules because Broken Me would waste her life away if left unattended. I've spent my life devaluing everything about myself in order to justify having my own predetermined life track. I've also convinced myself that if I don't spend a life obsessively submerged in all that I love, simply loving it has no value in itself, hence the all-too-predictable desire to jump at the opportunity to apply for the job.
And the truth is, I would love that job. I would learn from it. But, would I grow? My news judgement and management skills would likely improve. I would be able to gain a new type of experience. But, would taking on a position like that enhance my education or serve as yet another comfortable crutch for a girl who convinced herself long ago that she couldn't stand on her own two feet?