I have a daily struggle between the “Me I Imagine” and the “Me That I Feel I Am.” I have all these hopes and aspirations for the “Me I Imagine.” I really want to be successful. I really want to help people. I really want to explore my full potential as a skilled and creative human being. But I tend to run into a brick wall almost every day because my imagination and self-esteem very rarely line up. As much as I can imagine myself as all the great things that I want to be, I have a hard time convincing myself that I can be those awesome things. Or that I am even worthy to attempt to be those things. And recently, I’ve been hit with one setback after another, making me feel even more useless and worthless. This is the kind of situation where I just start feeling like I have nothing left but to go lie down and die somewhere.
I know this is bad thinking. I know this is “letting the depression” win. But I can’t help but wonder if perhaps I have a false sense of self. If I’m not actually as awesome or worthy of success as I think I am. Maybe I’ve just been sheltered my entire life and what I think is great isn’t actually that great in the grand scheme of the world. I don’t want that to be true. But I also recognize that I’m a “Special Unicorn Millennial,” and so I don’t really trust my judgment when it comes to what “success” and “failure” looks like. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I suggest you read this great post here.
But when I give up—when I accept the helplessness that all these unfortunate setbacks seem to be telling me to do—I don’t feel like me. I feel like a hollowed out version of myself. Like a fake, a fraud, a straw-filled, ill-made doll. Essentially, I feel worse than before! It’s like there is no right answer to this problem! It’s like no matter which way I turn there’s always a “Dead End” sign waiting for me. It’s like my “Imagined Self” and “Perceived (Low Self-Esteem) Self” are both nowhere near who I am.
And it leaves me with the question, “Who am I?” At 25, that’s a bit disconcerting of a question to be asking oneself. I thought I had at least a little bit of an idea. I thought I had a direction. But it seems quite the opposite. Life is taking me on a journey I never intended and though certainly not the worst journey I could be enduring, it’s not the most pleasant for someone dealing with depression.
What I wonder is if other people feel this way too? If finding a rift between your “Imagined Self” and your “Perceived Self” is common? If there’s a known way to remedy it before you’ve screwed up your future royally? Or if I’m alone in my suffering and I’m meant to drift aimlessly through the fog of meaningless adulthood for decades until it really is too late to do anything of worth in the world.
Yes. People think and feel this. What’s worse is that creative ambitions are often met with non solution solutions like “that’s really difficult” from people who are not creators.
Sometimes I try to get people to open up about creative growth and their challenges, but it seems to be a touchy topic. They turtle into their shells. This is the most anyone else has publicly talked about it, and sounds a lot like my internal thought processes, aside from depression. Maybe you should ask specific questions about your goals for creative growth – your readership might their networks might actually have something specific and helpful to say.
I completely understand what you mean by a “Perceived Self” and who you actually are.
I like to imagine myself as someone who comes across fairly confident and sure of themself. I give off a vibe in my posture, my walk and my talk that I am very certain as to who I am and what I want. And in some sense, it’s true. But there’s much more than that.
I have my ACTUAL self, who is extremely worrisome and insecure and a tad paranoid. I make my statement and then spend the rest of my day questioning whether or not my statement was smart enough; stimulating enough; funny enough; insightful enough; good enough.
The main struggle is finding a way to balance these 2 personas that we feel we have… Being able to combine ourselves with who we THINK we are into who we ACTUALLY are.
Thanks for sharing your post, I’m glad I’m not the only one who has these thoughts about myself. I hope you are able to find balance within yourself and discover who you are. I love everything you do, I know you put a lot of effort into your work. It is very much appreciated.
I hope you have a lovely day 🙂