You ask my mum, she’ll tell you I’m too modest, that I never think I’m very good at things. Not that unusual for a British-born people pleaser, and whilst I didn’t particularly agree, I used to put it down to being a perfectionist and a realist. However I now wonder whether it’s tied in to my feelings, or lack thereof, about what I do well.
I recently submitted my PhD thesis, 80,000 words that represented the culmination of 4 years’ blood sweat and tears, and to be honest it was totally underwhelming. Maybe I had built it up too much in my head, maybe my brain is waiting until after my viva before it lets me celebrate, but I just felt disappointed. I’ve been more excited to find a fiver in an old handbag.
I posted before about alexithymia and my difficulty in identifying how I feel, and whilst my peers assure me that it is normal to feel completely wrung out after handing in, none reported this sense of “well that was a waste of time”. I promised myself a big present when I finished – a holiday, a cookery course, a tablet PC – but I honestly don’t feel like I deserve one.
Telling people I’ve submitted is uncomfortable, as I have to stop myself answering people’s rhetorical questions about how relieved/proud/pleased I must be, and nod at their assumptions. I can see that they feel relieved/proud/pleased for me, and I remember feeling genuinely relieved/proud/pleased for friends when they reached the same point. So why am I unable to extend the same courtesy to myself? I was supposed to feel amazing, and I feel like a kid who got socks for xmas instead of Buzz Lightyear, but has to thank their kindly relative anyway *sulk*.
I wonder whether I consciously base an ‘achievement’ on feeling a ‘sense of achievement’, but then fail to find that feeling, leading me to conclude that I have achieved nothing.
© Catastraspie, 2012.