Who Do I Think I Am?

Feeling a certain foreboding with this course. I’m enjoying it, getting a lot out of it, and recommending it left, right and centre, sure. But there’s an occasional uneasiness beyond the ‘out of my comfort zone’ feeling of needing to be a bit brave (which is exhilarating and necessary). I mostly go with it anyway, trying to trust the process, trusting that these guys know what they are talking about. Which they seem to.

My fear is that expectations will be raised. Too high.

I have examined myself and my motives here. I know I have a tendency to think I’m not worth it. I catch myself at it time and again. I realise that for many years I have thought, in effect: ‘I can’t be a doctor! What if I accidentally kill someone?’ about just about everything. This is paralyzing of course. Those people who become Prime Minister, headmaster, pilot, or whatever: what makes them so certain that they are good enough? How do they cope with the inevitable criticism or fear of failure? I can’t do that: much safer to be the janitor, the lowly employee or indeed nothing at all. Nobody expects much of you. They tell you what to do and probably aren’t even particularly surprised when you muck it up.

Even I can see that this is an extraordinary way to think when you have the advantages in life that I have ie relatively articulate, healthy and educated. Where do these unhelpful ideas come from?

And how does this fear of responsibility marry with my longing to share knowledge, be helpful, be respected for my authority in whatever field it may be? How is it I feel I have no such authority? An earlier post pointed to my surprise at actually being more knowledgeable (about something I love but am not trained in) than a friend. This should not have come as a surprise. Yet it did.

This is a terrible thing to confess, but sometimes I notice that my feelings of victimhood have formed a familiar prism.   A tiny part of me clings to it. Why?

I am afraid.

When the s**t first hit the fan, some people said ‘you’ll be all right’. I couldn’t see how. I still can’t, but the occasional glimpse of possibility seems frightening rather than encouraging.

And here we all are, with our reverse job ads. We all seem to want to work for the same company. People are specifying flexible working hours, rooms for taking naps during the working day, generous pay and so on. We are not all going to work for companies that encourage naps, healthy snacks and enforced time off. We’re just not. I expect this sounds defeatist, and I know we are supposed to be indulging in blue sky thinking, but part of me is muttering in my own ear: ‘Lower your expectations. Who the hell do you think you are?!’

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Florence Feynman

I am a middle aged, middle class woman, thinking.

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