Tuesday, 4 October 2011

a new kind

This is a post that was difficult to write.

Again and again I drafted it in my head - when brushing my teeth or skipping down the library steps, I would think, Yes, that's what I want to say.

Then sit down and stare at the blinking cursor for a while. And after a few futile attempts at catching the edges of my thoughts, give up. And repeat the following day.

You see, lately I've been bored with myself. And that's not a nice type of boredom.

(I would consider myself quite proficient at dealing with boredom. There are so many things to be done and people to be met and books waiting for their spines to be cracked. But looking in the mirror and feeling distinctly disenchanted, that's another thing entirely.)

I've reverted to the point where I can't write a single thing without bringing on a mental avalanche of criticism. I look at myself or listen to myself and all I see and hear is hopeless inadequacy. (James Dean once said that if he were to be put in the same room with himself for five minutes, only one of them would come out alive. There is that.)

Of course, this is really nothing new. Self-loathing is to me as natural and indispensable as breathing.

But last spring my therapist urged me to start treating myself with kindness. To address myself with patience and, most conspicuously, with mercy.

And so I tried it out.

I would pick my heavy limbs up in the morning and say, Come along then dear. I would look into the mirror without cringing and I would pay attention to the things I did manage to do right. I would shrug my shoulders at my own infuriating habits. I would allow myself to be tired and needy, because we all are tired and needy sometimes, and it's essential to remember that these are not signs of weakness.

I took long walks and made sure to get enough sleep. I wrote. I was happy in a vacant way, afraid of breaking my fragile construction of calm.

And now, of course, we are back on track. There's nothing quite as belittling as endless university applications and crippling hours of exam revision. To be quite honest, I feel like a failure.

I know that right now I am taking a very narrow path very close to the edge. It would be all too easy for me to slip into my old habits of infinite self-hate again.

But quite frankly, and forgive me my narcissism, I deserve better than that. And luckily enough, I now also know better. I've seen the flip side and I know myself to be capable of kindness, of practicing a new kind of mercy.


  1. Iida, let me tell you that you are one of the most talented and inspiring people I have ever "met". Everything you post here, everything you do seems so beautiful and flawless, and I admire you so much, especially for your writing abilities...

    I think the most gifted, intelligent people have to struggle the hardest in life. I wish you all the best, and I'm sure you'll get through this.

    xx Sophia

  2. Oh my goodness, there is no way I deserve all this praise. I really don't know what to say to this, you are too kind. You should be glad not to have actually met me since I'd probably be an enormous let-down. :)

  3. You have once again managed to put into idyllic sounding phrases the things I try to ignore about myself. You are right - you do deserve better than 'infinite self-hate', we all do. Thank you for letting me know that I am not alone and reminding that we all have the strength inside us to create something beautiful out of that which is not.