Some time ago, Goldilocks explained to me how frustrated she was. She was working very hard to be “normal”. Not that she was trying to fit in – nothing like that. She was trying to moderate her responses to life’s stressors. She was trying NOT to get anxious, or talk to Zoomer*, or say unkind and thoughtless things. She was trying to integrate and keep her temper and respond rationally – every single day.
That might not seem like a lot to expect of someone.
But for her, the task was mammoth. Is mammoth, I should say.
It takes all of her energy and all of her emotional reserves, and some days it takes more than she has to give.
And no one notices.
She was getting exhausted and run down, and could hardly see the point in being this person people wanted her to be, since no one realised she was being it.
We had a long chat.
I explained to her that, if no one notices she’s doing it, it means she’s doing it right. If no one understands the cost, it means she’s made it look effortless. If no one praises her efforts, it means her efforts have paid off. She’s succeeded.
And then I reminded her that I see. I know.
And God knows.
And she knows.
I told her to be proud of herself for all that she has achieved – and does achieve every day. I pointed out that she has worked hard and has earned a certain amount of righteous back slapping.
And then I told her one of the hardest truths:
“That may be all the acknowledgement you ever get. You need to learn to let it be enough.”
If you do your job so well that no one even realises a job was done – making it look effortless; keeping the cogs running – day in and day out – no one will thank you. They won’t know that you’ve earned their thanks. Especially not when “the job” you do is “being socially acceptable”.
Deep within yourself you need to find the wellspring of self-approval – those reserves of strength that say, “Well done, Me. Nice job.” You need to shed archaic constructs whispering lies about how this kind of self-congratulation is wicked and prideful. And you need to let go of any need for approval.
You have what it takes to achieve what you need to achieve.
And that’s enough.
*Zoomer is the subject of a story I’m not ready to tell. In fact, it’s not really mine to tell.