Ariane wrote a post that I didn’t feel I could respond to adequately in a comment, so I thought I’d write a post in response.
Perhaps the single most harmful thing I’ve ever internalized was, “You just don’t want to.”
As in, “You could talk fine yesterday, so I know you can talk well when you want to. You just don’t want to.”
As in, “Well, two weeks ago, you had more homework than you had this week and you finished it all fine, so I know you can get work done when you want to. You just don’t want to.”
As in, “You were fine at your birthday party, so I know you can behave at parties when you want to. You just don’t want to.”
And so on, and so forth.
See, what those people didn’t realize was that the circumstances were different. Yesterday, we weren’t talking about how kids bullied me. Two weeks ago, all my homework was in classes that send out email reminders. At my birthday party, we didn’t go to sensory hell that is Chuck E Cheese.
But I’ve internalized that message of I-just-don’t-want-to. And, for me, it works as a thought-terminating cliche that poisons most aspects of my life.
- Rather than seek help for my problem staying organized, I assumed I just didn’t want to stay organized, and that on some level I enjoyed the moments where I’d realize the assignment was due today about when the prof asked for them to be handed in or the getting up at 3AM to pound out an assignment when I had classes from 8AM till 9PM that day and was going to have a hard time staying awake through them all.
- Rather than seek help for my handwriting issues or find some alternative to handwriting, I assumed that I just didn’t care enough to write neatly, and that on some level I enjoyed looking at the strange scribbled hieroglyphics in my notebook and trying to figure out what they meant, minus a Rosetta Stone.
And so on, and so forth.
I’ve internalized many other harmful things growing up (lazy, unathletic, stupid, intentionally rude, etc), but this one is the most insidious and the most difficult to combat. Because I can point to the workload I take on as proof I’m not lazy. I can point to martial arts as proof I’m not unathletic. I can point to the fact that someone once told me to stop apologizing for existing as proof I’m not intentionally rude. But how do I prove to myself that I don’t want to fail, even as I fail at something over and over again?
But thing is, right now, I know I don’t want to fail. I get giddy and bounce around with joy every time I figure out something else that helps me be a little more the independent, successful adult. The most recent being a laundry sorter that sorts dirty clothes for me (a work of genius, that invention). But in the heat of the moment, when I’m beating myself up over burning a sauce I was making again or forgetting that important work document again or what have you? I don’t remember that. I remember “You did it last week, so why can’t you today?” and “You can do it when you want to.”
“You just don’t want to.”