Success ≠ Happiness

Today I got my exam results for the final stage of my ACCA exam paper, it was my fourth attempt at this blasted UK Advanced Tax paper, but I passed it! I usually receive a text message at midnight but I hadn’t updated my mobile number and so had to wait until 4am when the email came through. Needless to say I didn’t sleep until it came through.

I am now officially a qualified accountant, after 4 years of hard work and perseverance I have finally done it. I am going to sound so ungrateful now, and to be honest I’m not really sure how I’m feeling, but all of a sudden I’m very afraid and I am not sure I can handle the success of it – it’s too much pressure.

I keep thinking I’m not good enough, surely I am simply not good enough. I realise in my mind that I had written it off as something unattainable, and anyone who has it is a genius or a mastermind, and therefore that can’t be me. I know my view is warped; the exam is clearly doable and no one who takes it is a genius, they are just intelligent and have put in the hard graft, just as I have.

It has really shocked me how much I can’t seem to see myself with a realistic and positive light, I almost want someone to snap me out of it and wake me up because it’s too much for me to bear. I am used to pain and disappointment, to not being good enough and hiding behind the success of others.

I can feel myself wanting to self-sabotage, it’s like an addiction, an itch i need to scratch. I desperately don’t want to do that, I really want to enjoy my hard earned success and stop trying to ruin the good things that happen to me. I’m scared, of what I might do, or that this success isn’t as real or good as I perceived it to be. I feel like my version of reality is totally skewed.

I am seeing my therapist tomorrow, and last week he suggested that I see him twice a week again. I would if I could, but I am going to have to tell him that I can’t afford it at the moment. If I’m honest with myself, I am also scared to let him in anymore than I already have. He wants me to open up and let him in but I am petrified to do so. I don’t trust myself.

I feel so sad that this is how I feel about myself, that I don’t trust me and I don’t have any real faith in my abilities. I’m afraid that this blog will be rejected, seeing as I am starting to get external interest in it, all of a sudden it’s under scrutiny and I’m not sure that I am ready for that. It’s not even paid interest, but this is who I am. This blog is me, and so any rejection of my blog is another painful rejection of me.

I know that it was a risk starting my blog and opening it up to criticism and review, but I didn’t realise how I would feel when it actually started happening. It’s hard. It feels so precarious, and I want that release of someone putting me and my work down so that I can feel sorry for myself and wallow in my comfortable well of self pity.

Succeeding is hard. Achieving is hard. Getting what you thought you wanted is hard. It’s not that I don’t want these things, but I realise that they do not make me who I am, they do not make me happy. My happiness comes from feeling good about myself, not from external validation, but it’s so easy to forget that, especially when that’s where I am used to getting it.

Yes, it’s great that I passed my exam, but it doesn’t dictate my worth. It is also great that I have been asked to contribute to another blog and have had interest in my freelance services for the first time, but these too do not dictate my worth. I am not ready for these things yet, and I realise that I am still focused on my journey of self-discovery rather than accelerating my career.

I want to go to New Zealand and work on the ski slopes for a while, I want to travel around and work on farms, in bars and offices and keep learning about myself and the world. I don’t feel confident enough in my abilities just yet, and I don’t think these things are going to make me happy. I think following my heart and passion is the key to happiness.

 

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Uncomfortably Safe

I feel uncomfortable. It’s as if there is something bubbling under the surface but I don’t know what it is, and it’s niggling at me. There are two versions of me and they are battling it out for the grand title, and it’s killing me. The last two sessions with my therapist have been dissatisfying and I can’t seem to connect to him, or let myself connect to him. There is a very high barrier there and I’m desperately trying to find a way around or over it but I can’t seem to, no matter how hard I try.

There are a few things going on in my life too, the main one being that I have two months left in Sydney before I am due to go back to the UK, and the second one being that I am not working and unsure of how to spend these next two months. I have all of these choices, and yet I can’t make one! I can’t decide whether to stay or to go, move out of my flat and travel on the little money I have saved, or try and get some contract work to save for my trip to San Francisco in August. I feel so stupid because I thought I would manage to find sponsorship and stay here, but it hasn’t happened, and so I planned my trip to America so that I would come back here two weeks before heading home. Now I feel like I’ve messed up my last two months here and I’m giving myself a really hard time over it.

I keep telling myself to enjoy my time here, do something every day, look for work or just do something productive, but I’m struggling. I wake up and I try to do something, I have my porridge, I shower and then I decide what to do if I don’t have anything on in the morning. I’ve done ok up to now, but I’m starting to run out of ideas and I’m home alone in my flat as my friend has moved out and my flatmate is on holiday. I’m worried for myself, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, and I feel under pressure to make the right choices.

I can feel a hot stab of anger and anxiety in my chest, and I’m not sure what it is. There is something in there just dying to get out and be released but I just don’t know what it is. I’ve just had two weekends away to wonderful places in Australia, and I’m back in Sydney with only my thoughts. Something inside of me is telling me to sit tight, things will work out, and to be patient, but the inner child is literally screaming at me to ‘do something! Make a decision! Take the first job you can find even if you hate it! Stop being so relaxed!’

Adult me is telling me to stay calm and sit tight, that I deserve to wait for the right job to come along, and that it’s safe to do so and trust that something will come along. Child me is tugging at her sleeve and screaming that we know I am no good, and I should be grateful for anything I can get. I am so afraid to make any decisions, I am so worried that I shouldn’t have turned down the job I didn’t want and now I will be punished for it. I genuinely and wholeheartedly believe that life is against me, and that I am not entitled to make any decisions for myself. I feel completely trapped, oppressed and depressed.

I have been here before during my therapy, at this point where I just don’t know what I am feeling and become frustrated with both him and myself. Every damned time I get here I can never remember how I got here before or how I got out of it! I’m frightened. I am afraid that I won’t find work, that I won’t be able to go to my friends wedding, that I will have to go home and I will revert to the depressed and anxiety ridden girl I was before I left.

I am terrified to go home, to go back to my family, to my therapist, my friends and my life back home. It felt so good coming out here and doing something for myself, and I am so scared that I will get caught back up in all the emotional difficulties that went on in the life I had there. I feel free here, I feel like me, and I so desperately want to hold onto this feeling that I would do anything to stay here. Yet when those options arise and I try, I can’t stick it out, and I give up and think it’s not worth it. I am so confused. I am writing this and I have no clue what I am actually feeling.

I am so angry that I don’t know what I feel, or what is wrong with me. I am so unbelievably sick of feeling this way and I can feel the rage inside of me bursting to come out. I feel irrationally angry with my therapist because in my mind, he won’t let me go, he won’t take care of me, he won’t fix things for me, he won’t just make it all go away and make it ok. I feel so stuck because I know truthfully that nobody can do this for me, I have to do it for myself.

I just don’t want to be like this anymore. I want to trust myself, have faith in my abilities and know that the future will work itself out. I am absolutely petrified that it won’t, that I am incapable and that I will never get anything that I want. I just want to give up. I don’t want to try anymore. I don’t want to want anything anymore. Wanting things only leads to pain and disappointment.

Letter to my therapist:

I don’t want to talk to you anymore. You aren’t making me better you are making me worse. This is just getting worse. I can’t function. I can’t relax. All I can think about is pleasing you and getting you to see that I am ready to get rid of you in our next session. Why won’t you just tell me I don’t need to come back anymore? Why can’t you just let me go? Why can’t you just tell me I am useless and unfixable and we can just forget everything we have done? I can’t do this anymore. I don’t know why you are making me. I hate it. I can’t do it. I can’t feel the things you want me to feel let alone express them to you. Why won’t you just leave me alone?! You want me to be angry, but I’m not, and I don’t understand why. Then all I do is doubt myself and wonder what is wrong with me and why I’m not angry.

There is obviously something wrong with me if I am not feeling the right thing. I just want to give you what you want so that I can get away from you and worry about myself, I can know that I have satisfied you and you will stop bugging me! Once I have done that I will feel safe, because you will be happy and I can go away for a while knowing that we are on good terms and you are still there for me. Except that you don’t want anything from me, and I can’t compute that, it doesn’t make sense. How can you just be there for me with no ulterior motive other than to care for me?

I don’t get it. I am angry with you because you aren’t playing my game. Can’t you just abandon or reject me and get it over with? I’m not comfortable being safe or cared for, it feels too close, too vulnerable, unsafe. Please just go away before I push you away. I told you I’m no good, that I’m bad, but you won’t listen, and so I will have to show you. What I really want is for you to not go anywhere, even when I show you the worst version of myself.

The only thing guiding me through this is my intuition, and that tells me to keep going, slowly, and despite it feeling immensely uncomfortable, that it is safe to proceed.