on self-esteem as a precursor for achievement …

… rather than achievement as a prerequisite for self-esteem

Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

I’ve been taking stock today — taking it slow and allowing myself to get back in the groove of being a bit more organised than I have been lately. I’ve been posting a lot more here recently, but a few other things like life-admin and chores have gone by the wayside a bit.

This is okay — I’ve been riding the enthusiasm I feel for this blog and the community we can build here. It’s been making me happy. I will find the balance between running this blog and running the rest of my life, as the pendulum swings to and fro.

When I’m taking stock I like to go through my various browsers, closing tabs I’ve had open for yonks. It helps me feel a bit more organised by cutting out some of the mental noise I feel at some kind of subconscious level when I know I’ve been opening tabs like they’re going out of fashion.

Something I stopped on today was this article about how some overachievers turn to drugs for escape because no achievement is ever sufficiently satisfying. It’s published by an addiction-recovery and mental-health clinic, and covers a lot of ground (in three short sections) about how societal expectations drive a lot of us to be always achieving, never satisfied to just exist and accept ourselves for our inherent worth.

I understand this compulsion intimately, though I’m not sure I had quite made the connection between the constant need for achievement and the temptation of drugs that promise a reprieve from this pressure.

I am pleased to be able to say, though, that since I’ve been working more full-time on Kokoro 心 Heart and the business around it, I can relate more to this statement from the article:

Our attempts to achieve and succeed should have their roots in a healthy, already-existent sense of self-esteem, rather than being motivated by its absence.

I can honestly say that I wake up each morning feeling committed to doing this work that fulfils my purpose. Not because I need to supplement a low self-esteem, but because doing this work feels as natural and necessary as breathing, or making nutritious food, or walking in the bush. It’s an act of self-care, this work, and feels like something I am just meant to do — no one else expects me to do it.

I value the work I am doing here, and I do it because I believe it has worth — I wouldn’t be able to do that without others’ expectations if I didn’t have a higher sense of self-esteem than I had previously recognised.

So that’s a nice thing to have realised, and was well worth taking stock for. I am grateful, and very fortunate.

Check out the article, and let me know what you think. I think it’s essential we question the narratives telling us we need to achieve more — always more, never enough.

What is your enough?

If societal expectations drive a lot of us to be always achieving, never satisfied to just exist and accept ourselves for our inherent worth, but also no achievement is ever sufficiently satisfying, what to do?

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