I’m not sure I entirely understand the concept of pride. That is to say, I’ve done things for which other people would be proud – gotten into good schools, made good grades, overcome mental illness – yet the feeling that should accompany these things is missing. Granted, I wasn’t exactly raised to feel proud of the things I accomplish. I mean, I was rewarded for them, but any time I did something well, it wasn’t me – my parents and family took credit for the things I did. They were proud of me because I exhibited all the positive things which they’d instilled in me. They’re way better about it now, but when I was younger, anything I did, it was because they’d had some hand in it. Getting good grades? It was because they’d given me the intelligence to do well. Got into great schools? They’d edited (not written, edited) my work, so it was their success. Played piano well? They’d been the ones to pay for my lessons. This is frustrating, as you might imagine, because now it’s hard for me to see the things I’ve accomplished on my own.
My girlfriends and I have had big, long talks about this, of course, but it all boils down to a disconnect I’ve built between myself and the things I do. None of the things I accomplish are my successes. They’re not even really successes, they’re just things that happen. They belong to someone else. The failures, however, are all my fault. My parents are responsible, for example, for my excellent grades, but it’s my fault that I’m fat. It’s because of them that I got into undergrad, but my fault that I’m socially anxious. It’s a frustrating circle because it never allows me to gain back the negative feelings I ascribe to myself – even overcoming the negative things. The fear of failure is never outweighed by the joys of success. The shame is never wiped out by pride.
I’m trying to make it a point, now, to feel pride. To try and imagine what that feels like. Especially now that I’m trying to get into grad school and need to be able to advertize my skills and successes, it’s massively important that I work on knowing what I’m good at, and the value I have.