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Saturday, March 26, 2005

 

Self-esteem

I'm drinking Earl Grey de la Creme tea, the leaves of which were purchased in a store in Greenwich Village, NYC. The first time I tasted it I said it was like drinking gold - the flavor was that perfect, strong dark tea mixed with vanilla. Now I drink it when I want to feel luxurious. The tin lamp I inherited when my grandmother passed away is glowing across the room, beneath it the little succulent plant I bought for my husband a few months back. XM radio is playing (ok, so the tower of electronica isn't all bad), and the music is just right for this moment, on the cusp of a Saturday night, after a day of hard work -- building three new bookcases. I realize that for most people in the world a day of hard work is much harder than bookcases. But I feel a sense of accomplishment, of having used my body, and now it is warm and resting and a night out will feel good, like the perfect cap to a day well-lived.

Lately I've been stuck on the thought I expressed here a week or so back, that when you don't get to do the thing you're good at, you end up feeling pretty bad about yourself. This is a new feeling for me - I have always had strong self-esteem. I remember once talking to a friend who was in a relationship with someone self-destructive, and I said, "I guess after a while I'd just get angry," and she said, "of course you would, you have high self-esteem." I have always treasured this about myself - it's not about thinking I'm great, it's about demanding to be treated with respect...feeling I deserve that. Respecting myself. Lately, I feel that crumbling, mostly because I've been stuck in the middle of so many decisions for so long, with no visible progress...still at the same job, in the same apartment... it wears you down after a while. I find myself wondering, what's wrong with me? Why can't I just make choices?

Which is why I think a day spent building bookcases feels as good as it does. And then I remind myself - I have made progress in one area of my life, in giving art a more central role....writing every morning, rearranging my hours at work to accomodate that...improv... this blog. 2 years ago I wasn't aware of how important this all was to me. But instead of feeling satisfied, I feel greedy: I want more room for art, more hours of a day spent doing things that matter to me, that feel connected to who I really am. I want a house with room to luxuriate in - no more artful arranging of things into too-small spaces, no more "one ass kitchen" (as my husband calls it)...space to cook, rest, work, entertain, play. And a chance to design spaces from scratch - a fresh start. In college I used to rearrange my furniture at least twice a year, dye my hair -- changes to the external that left the internal refreshed. I need that.

There's a new song on XM, too loud, too chaotic - the spell is broken. But I still feel a sense of possibility. Off to get ready.

Comments:
“When you conclude that you don’t have everything you desire, find a charitable way to give of yourself to those who are the neediest of all, and the riches you do have will become burdensom."
 
"I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and, doggonit, people like me!"
 
My experience may be limited, but I've found that people with high self-esteem don't have to shout it to the rafters, and rarely feel the need to repeat affirmation from others about it. That sounds more like the actions of a person who -wants- high self-esteem, not someone who actually has it. Just my thoughts.
 
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