Well, it’s that time of year again. That flipping of the calendar where the joys of Christmas are over, the decorations are put up, and our collective capitalistic mindset views the new year as another opportunity to make positive changes, to learn from the past, and to unleash the “new me” upon the world. Everything is bright and new, and we can take the next 12 months to undergo a metamorphosis into the person that is closer to the emotional, physical, mental and/or spiritual being we desire to be. January is the month that keeps motivational speakers, self-help authors, and gyms funded for the entire rest of the year. It’s just such a glorious, magical time.

Unless it isn’t.

0_ryeqpxbqykms3g3lWhile many people see New Year’s as an opportunity to visualize how this year can be better than the next or to identify chances for personal breakthrough, others (myself included) consistently use it to take an accounting of all their awkwardness and failures of the past year, highlight how many times in their life that they’ve failed at the same exact things, and look on this coming year with dread and with no further expectation than to fail at the same things yet again. How many times have I lost weight and put it back on? How many times have I resolved to be healthier just to simply abandon it at the first opportunity? How many projects have I started that I never finished? (Even this blog…I started with the noble intention of posting regularly. It’s been almost two years since my last entry.) Will this finally be the year that everyone else sees me for the fraud that I clearly see myself to be? Even better, what new idiosyncrasy will I pick up this year that will make me even more loathsome and intolerable to myself and to others? Yep, folks…my brain is a scary place.

Oh, I get it. I realize that I’m the only one able to decorate my own headspace with rainbows and unicorns and puppies and Care Bears and Joel Osteen quips. I am very much aware that I’m responsible for my own state of mind, my own positivity (or negativity), and my own ability to overcome my shortcomings, as well as various other aspects of my life that define me to myself and to others. If I just work hard enough at it, I can change my own self-image and personal outlook for the better. If I just pray hard enough about it, God will fulfill me in these areas where I feel I fall woefully short. I know this to be true because I see countless motivational memes and pep talks on social media, informing me of my own abilities and power within. If it’s on the internet, it has to be true right?

Ed, shown here with a few of his long-standing critics.

Ed, shown here with a few of his long-standing critics.

Except that with me and others who struggle with this scourge, such urgings of positive self-transformation only result in yet more perceived personal failings that were the target of said urgings in the first place. See what happens there? It’s a never-ending cycle of self-loathing and feelings of inadequacy. The very things that we are told we need to do to break the loop are simply more fodder for the continuity of the loop. I’m such a loser that I can’t even accomplish what it takes to mentally overcome the lack of accomplishment!

While I say that with a twinge of hyperbole, the basic concept is true. One of the things that I’ve been convicted about in recent years is being transparent and real when it comes to how I project myself, both in real life and on social media. That’s part of what prompted this entry to begin with. I’m hoping that maybe others might understand this struggle, and maybe we can help each other by being open and realizing that we are not alone. One thing I’ve learned unequivocally…no one can conquer these demons on their own. Trust me, I’ve tried. This type of thing is really hard to admit and be open about, but how will we ever help each other if we continue to hide behind our public persona? In my opinion, social media has done nothing but exacerbate feelings of inadequacy in those who already possessed them, and has caused many others who didn’t to now fall prey to their snare. (Broad statement, I know…but that’s a post for another day.)

It’s here where I feel the need to apologize. In previous items I’ve written, I always have a neat summary at the end and some suggestion on how the subject matter presented might be remedied. But I’ll be honest…I have nothing on this one. This is something I’ve struggled with my entire life, and while some times are better than others, the issue is always there. I wish I could wrap this up in a neat little bow and resolve it. I just have no answer.

If you’ve actually made it to the end of this post, and you struggle with these issues, hopefully it helps knowing you’re not alone. That, in and of itself, usually makes me feel a little better. – B