I have got to stop beating myself up, minimizing my efforts and outcomes, and comparing myself to others or to my perceived view of what I think I should be able to do.
I hate numbers, times, paces, units of measurement, and tests...because in my mind I never make the grade. If I walk when I'm supposed to run... I fail. If I'm slower than I "think" I should be... I fail. If my times don't improve each time I test or train... I fail. I don't feel like I deserve to give myself credit for anything I do as my mind tells me it is always a mediocre performance. I down-play even the rare success I allow myself so I won't appear a braggart or egotistical, because being an imposter is almost as bad as being a failure. I get so confused by the numbers that measure my "worth" that unless I receive external affirmation that I "did well" I immediately tell myself that I failed with whatever I think the goal of my workout was. If I feel I've disappointed others around me by being too slow, having to stop to walk, not keeping up with the group, not getting faster, then I become disappointed with my performance. If I don't please someone and get positive feedback then whatever I've done must not be worth noticing, and if I do get positive feedback I either don't believe it or I minimize it. If I do pay attention long enough to accept the complement and let it "feel" good I shut it down in my mind once I start to experience the sensation of pleasure and external validation.
I need to learn to bathe myself in my daily accomplishments - soak them in - moisturize my thirsty skin with them, quench my thirst for the feeling of success. I can only imagine how good it would feel to actually believe my mediocrity is not mediocrity at all - but something special, something glorious, something worth having and being.
I wonder what time, pace, accomplishment would make me feel worthy? If I ran an 8 minute mile would it be good enough? If I could hold 18mph on a long bike ride would I consider myself fast? If I could swim test a 1.2 mile in under 40 minutes would I then feel successful? I'm thinking I wouldn't. Why? Because I rarely give myself credit for what I have done. When I started I couldn't even run a mile without gasping for air and stopping. I disregard that now. I used to ride 12-13 mph on the bike but I was "just" a beginner so any progress I have made since then is due to the passage of time and the inevitability of some progression. I used to not be able to swim a lap in the pool. But that was four years ago. I should be better now!
"Give yourself the credit you deserve to build confidence and continue to squash doubt. It's time to stop minimizing your accomplishments, telling yourself that anyone could have done it or that it was no big deal. When you look at what you do, don't make comparisons with your ideal or what you think is best; don't compare yourself with what you think other people can do. It is important to give yourself credit for the effort and not the outcome...Giving yourself credit means recognizing your effort as well as your accomplishment."
I was about to write down that I need to accept who I am, but then I realized that even that sounds negative. In my mind, I immediately equate who I am with mediocrity. I need to revel in who I am. Be proud of what I can do and not immediately think that saying what I can do is a reminder of what I can't. I need to figure out why I feel the need to berate myself as if I am not worthy of feeling successful or good or talented.
This is going to be my biggest challenge during this journey. To learn to love myself and be proud of myself and know that I am worthy to stand next to my fellow athletes and talented friends and belong there. I fight the imposter syndrome on a daily basis.
I'm not sure yet how I am going to get there, but I think that my realizing what I am doing to my self-esteem is a start. Verbalizing it to the world is scary. (In my head) it is revealing my inner weaknesses and instability (and need for counseling) to the world. I do however believe strongly in the power of words and have gained confidence in one area over the past few years ~ my ability to write. Because of this I am willing to explore publicly what I am feeling in hopes that I will eventually gain some clarity and insight and be able to make some changes in my thinking.
So in deference to my low self-esteem, I am taking on a new mantra to use in my training:
I am, I am, I am Superman
And I know what's happening.
I am, I am, I am Superman
And I can do anything.