Excuses, I’m breaking up with you.

With zero fanfare, I celebrated my five-year anniversary as a sorority woman this past January 18th, sleeping in on the actual day and remembering halfway through with a sigh. While I continue loving the ideals of my sisterhood, the truth is that my illness and my excuses have driven a wedge between myself and many of my sisters, and the memories are now bittersweet. But as I dusted off pink and purple memorabilia at 11:48:52PM, the exact time the five years clocked in, I remembered something I learned from a sister during my education process:

Excuses are tools of the incompetent used to build monuments of nothing. Those who dwell on them will seldom succeed

In the years after my initiation, I have searched for the author to that quote–and found that it exists in many different forms, and most likely comes from something Thomas J. Smith said. But that specific wording of it always sticks out in my head because I clung to it that year as I struggled to balance depression, school, and Greek life… and I have since found myself pushing it out of my head because I just couldn’t face how many excuses I have been making recently.

And then came Nicole’s tweet this morning, linking me to a blog post that I needed (but was scared) to read. If you’ve never read Nicole’s blog before, go do that. Read her “About” and start falling in love with her. I’ll still be here when you come back.

Back? Good. If you looked at the post, you should have a pretty good idea of where this post is going. If not, let me give you a thesis statement: Nicole called me out on my bullshit perfectionism, where I either “do it right or not at all.” That mentality is completely counterproductive, and it’s the reason that I went from being a leader, and someone with initiative, to a girl who’s literally playing the sidekick role in her own life. That mentality is also the reason I haven’t blogged in over a year–I’ve written so many entries that haven’t been “quite right” and so I’ve left them unfinished or, worse, finished and languishing in the Drafts folder. (I’m going to spend some time tomorrow dusting them off and just hitting post, swear.)

In the interest of continuing Nicole’s tradition of no sugar-coating, I’ll come right out and say it: I’m miserable, and depression isn’t the only thing at fault. A big part of it is that I have become so comfortable in my misery that I am afraid to change things. I’m so scared of uncertainty that I’d rather stay in the rabbit hole. “Better the Devil you know,” they say, but I think I’ve taken that a little too seriously.

My only desire right now at this moment is to stop living the life I have and start living the life I’ve always wanted: at a healthier weight, writing books, conquering depression, becoming a cantor, having a family.

But, of course, we get back to the topic at hand: excuses. And I’ve become entirely too good at them. My carefully crafted excuses right now are:

  • I don’t have time to work out and eat better because working two jobs (regular and night school), and coaching, and doing after-school programs, and going to grad school. While all of that is true, the fact of the matter is that I’m still finding ways to procrastinate and waste time, so I could obviously make some time…
  • I don’t have the time or attention span to really write a book. Yet I’ve been working with the same characters for about 11 years now and I have written approximately 200,000 words in that universe. Go figure.
  • I’ve lived with depression so long that I don’t know how to live without it. Accurate, but that doesn’t mean I can’t live without it!
  • I will never be able to learn enough about music and Hebrew to get into cantorial school–and, even if I do, I don’t know if I can move to New York for four years and to Israel for one more, only to return and have to start all over again. That’s pretty rich coming from someone who loves learning languages and can do so quickly, can sing her head off, and moved to Chicago mostly by herself at 18 to go to school. I mean, why is this so much scarier now than it was then?
  • I have no time to date and even less to offer to someone. This one is closely tied to all of the previous ones. If I was making more time for me and going places and doing things, I could meet someone. And if I was happier with my life, that would come across better even on JDate, so I definitely could interest someone. And I have so many friends who tell me I’m awesome that they can’t all be wrong, so there.

What it all boils down to is this: I’ve lived all of my almost-25 years sabotaging myself and being so afraid of failure that I’ve become afraid of success. I haven’t started doing any of these things that I desperately want because I am so afraid of what will happen when I do. What if I’m still unhappy when I’m skinnier? What if I’m never at a size I like? What if my book flops, or I can never write another one? What if I work my ass off and then don’t get accepted into cantorial school? What if I fall in love (again) and get my heart trampled (again) and end up in an unhealthy relationship that causes a major depressive relapse (again)?

And, while all of these are valid questions, they highlight a much bigger problem: I’m not going after the life I want because I don’t think I deserve it. I don’t think I’m good enough. I’ve spent so long waiting for the other shoe to drop that I’ve started dropping it myself, and now living feeling “stuck” has become the norm for me.

Of course, finally realizing this (and confronting it) is absolutely devastating. I think I knew most of this somewhere but there’s a big difference between thinking you don’t deserve a specific thing and realizing that you’ve somehow decided that you’re not good enough for your own life. So, where do I go from here? What do I do next? The truth is, I have no idea. I’m hoping Shabbat will help bring me some sort of answer.

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