Someone told me recently that they constantly disappoint themselves. I replied, probably with somewhat less sensitivity than I ought to have, that I rarely disappoint myself.
Thinking about it, I’m curious why that is. Have I disappointed myself? Oh absolutely, and spectacularly. It just isn’t a frequent occurrence. Why not? Let’s look at some of those disappointments.
One of the ways I spectacularly disappoint myself (though not so much anymore) is getting involved with morons. Being able to look past the signs that they are morons who are going to make my life hell. What is the lesson here? Be cautious, and be more concerned about myself and my future. Is that important to everyone? No. But it is important to me. I had to live through some bad times to figure it out.
Another way is thinking more about what I belive people are capable of rather than just accepting what they are and moving on. I didn’t learn this lesson well enough with my alcoholic father at the age of 15 apparently. I went through many iterations of seeing how much more a person could be, setting high standards for them, and being crushed when they continue to do and be what they have always and been. I can’t change people, fundamentally. And really, morally, it is wrong to even try. Do you have to agree with me about this? Not even remotely. Remember we are talking about my self-discovery here.
Let’s move on to more internal failures. I have devoted a lot of my energy in the last decade to figuring out where my sense of self and my ideas of right and wrong come from. I am a very principled woman as a result. I don’t generally violate my principles. The pain of doing so is so great to me, that I feel the pain of those transgressions even today. Think of it more like a bad knee that acts up in a storm rather than me holding onto guilt. It isn’t a burden. It’s a reminder why we don’t do what we have done in the past. This particular incident involved me breaking my word. I didn’t lie. But I said I wouldn’t do something and I did it. Fessing up to it was the most painful thing I have ever done. I am not an oath braker. I have learned to not give a word I can’t keep and not break a word I have given. My integrity is everything to me. No one will ever say of me that I lack integrity. If integrity is not what’s important to you, that’s for you to figure out. But for me, it is more important than anything else.
Being a principled woman in an immoral world is hard. I have to remember that the world isn’t ready for the awesome that is me, and I have to forgive myself for doing what I must to survive in this world even what it clashes with my worldview.
And that’s the magic I think. Knowing yourself, knowing what’s important to you, and having the strength of character to not compromise yourself for others.