October makes me giddy. A week ago, I would’ve felt way too sweaty in flip flops, jeans and a velvet cami. Today, with a tinge of chilly, I’m perfectly comfy. This + there’s still time to pick up the threads of promised projects and end the year with a sense of accomplishment.
This feeling reminds me of the time my music theory teacher, after bestowing the final capstone project upon us, looked out at a wide-eyed class and said,
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you either have or don’t have self-esteem. Self-esteem is earned - through accomplishment.
It was hard. It seemed impossible, and I’ve never felt better than the day I turned that project in.
This lesson I’ll never forget has me shaping what’s left of the year around the pieces and parts of lingering projects. Their unfinished-ness is bothering me, which tells me they’re important. No one would care or know that I didn’t finish them. Yet, I know if I buckle down and get ‘em done I’ll start the New Year feeling lighter, brighter.
In her book, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion captures this idea of self-esteem in her essay, Self-Respect.
At 19, she hadn’t been elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
“This failure could scarcely have been more predictable or less ambiguous (I simply did not have the grades), but I was unnerved by it; I had somehow thought myself a kind of academic Raskolnikov, curiously exempt from the cause-effect relationships that hamper others...
“The day I did not make Phi Beta Kappa nonetheless marked the end of something, and innocence may well be the word for it. I lost the conviction that lights would always turn green for me, the pleasant certainty that those rather passive virtues which had won me approval as a child automatically guaranteed me not only Phi Beta Kappa keys but happiness, honor, and the love of a good man; lost a certain touching faith in the totem power of good manners, clean hair, and proven competence on the Stanford-Binet scale.
“To live without self-respect is to lie awake some night, beyond the reach of warm milk, phenobarbital, and the sleeping hand on the coverlet, counting up the sins of commissions and omission, the trusts betrayed, the promises subtly broken, the gifts irrevocable wasted through sloth or cowardice or carelessness.
”However long we postpone it, we eventually lie down alone in that notoriously uncomfortable bed, the one we make ourselves. Whether or not we sleep in it depends, of course, on whether or not we respect ourselves.
“Self-respect is something our grandparents, whether or not they had it, knew all about. They had instilled in them, young, a certain discipline, the sense that lives by doing things one does not particularly want to do, by putting fears and doubts to one side, by weighing immediate comforts against the possibility of larger, even intangible comforts.”
Self-knowledge enhances your chance for self-respect.
You’re less likely to let yourself down if you know how to set yourself up for success. There are all kinds of reasons I should not be able to do what I want to do before the end of the year. I have travel and company coming, but if I pace myself, I can get it done without feeling frazzled and fraught - which I don’t want, because that takes the fun out of accomplishment.
I’ve learned that if I’m accountable to others, I’ll get it done, so I’ve set that up in more ways than one.
Do you have a lingering something?
Quizzes like these are a fun way to get a sense of what’s important to you and why you think the way you do. They might help you shift perspective, shape your day in a new way, or quit questioning your way and keep doing what you’re doing…
Your tendency. Helpful, in regards to your relationship with habits.
Give one a go and let me know what you’ll be finishing.