Diary,  Journal

In Search for Answers

A couple of days ago I rambled about my feelings of inadequacy in general layman terms, simply analysing the things I was and still am feeling, unable to find much answer to anything.

Youtube’s magical recommendation algorithm realised my depressive state and suggested a bunch of psychology/creativity related content for which I am eternally grateful for. All those people creating videos so closely resonating with hundreds of thousands of other people while battling their own demons along the way. True heroes.

And so I stumble back here, in my mind’s abyss, to attempt to analyse my thoughts a tad further as the tangled mess of black coloured yarn that I’m faced with doesn’t seem to resolve itself any other way than by me carefully picking the threads apart one by one.


This is an old favourite of mine, it truly is. I remember the first time I realised that I suffered from this debilitating yet absolutely ridiculous thought machine – I honestly ended up crying. I dug deeper back then, going through my childhood to find the moment where it all began. It wasn’t hard if I’m being honest. I was actually surprised I hadn’t seen it sooner.

Growing up my parents weren’t the most affectionate people. They would expect only the best grades, the cleanest house, meals prepared before dad came home. You know, discipline. Both of my parents, but especially my dad was extremely emotionally distant. Home was never the environment I could be honest with my thoughts and feelings for as long as I can remember. I have a diary I kept when I was 9-10 years old and it’s quite heartbreaking. I never even thought to share those feelings with my parents, “sharing” and “opening up” just weren’t things that ever happened in our household. 

I have a sister who’s 5 years older than me. She was the type of daughter/student that everyone adored, she had the perfect grades, all of our extended family loved her, parents expected as much from me as they had gotten from her. It’s hard to try to measure up to someone 5 years older than you and the age difference didn’t matter, at least not to me definitely. I clearly remember feeling absolutely crushed seeing my sister’s artwork being millions of times better than mine even when I was 8 years old or so.

Emotionally absent parents, being measured against a sibling and learning to do so myself, both of us being treated like little adults with all the responsibility without any of the freedoms.

That did things to me as a child, the memories of certain dreary moments burned into my brain forever unwilling to let me go. 

In my mind’s eye “love” has never been unconditional. It was earned and even then not quite there in the extent that the child me needed.

I’ve been a perfectionist for as long as I can remember, truly. I’ve quit quite a few after-school activities due to not being able to measure up to those around me causing me extreme emotional distress, drowning me in unrelenting shame. 

Oh the shame… 

Shame has been following me around and it has not been pretty. I quit art, I came to detest design, I put away my guitar and all the paints dried up and crumbled without ever being touched again.

I was only capable of continuing with the things that I was the best at in the group, otherwise, the shame would get too much for me.

My relationship with perfectionism is almost as old as me, the feelings of never being good enough, of being unlovable unless I was succeeding a 100% of the time, the feelings of being a nuisance and a waste of space unless I was the perfect daughter, the perfect student, the perfect friend, hindering me at every step I ever took.

I’m crying writing this… I’m 25 now, I discovered my perfectionism but a year or so ago. My heart goes out to my past self, that lonely child hugging their knees sitting on the floor at 2am crying big salty tears as quietly as humanly possible so as not to alarm my parents sleeping on the other side of the wall. It breaks my heart to recall that fragile self, so lost and lonely, so overflowing with self-hatred and repeating the phrase “you deserve this, you deserve this, you deserve nothing more but this” until I could physically feel my own heart breaking.

Self-sabotage and imposter syndrome

I have had the luck of having my deepest fears about myself be confirmed after I completely flunk my high school graduation exams and failed to get into an art academy in my hometown. That was the breaking point for me, everything that I had ever feared coming true, everyone around me finally finding out how badly I had faked all throughout high school. All those good grades? Ha! All 12 years preceding those 2 examination hours were nothing but an act, I sure had everyone fooled that I was an actually capable student, hadn’t I? 

I still managed to get into Uni with my results, and a free-spot at that (in my home country the students with the highest grades get to go to Uni for free, others have to pay tuition), but I had to quit classes after a mere 2 weeks of attending. My mental health had just fallen down into the deep-end, I wasn’t able to socialise, I felt wrong being in school, I could feel myself breaking, tears streaming during classes for reasons unknown. I just couldn’t do it. 

Those feelings of my fellow course-mates finding out just how absolutely ridiculously stupid I had been, how I had failed my exams was one of the fears. I was also afraid of the professors, afraid of them finding me out as well.

So I quit. After a mere 2 weeks or so.

I will never forget the words my dad yelled at me when I cried to my parents about wanting to quit university. I had applied for MEXT, a Japanese government scholarship program and was betting on getting that, my original plan A; local uni having been a very unsuccessful plan B. 

“What the hell do you think you’re doing? Life is hard, university is hard, it’s supposed to be hard and painful and near impossible! Who do you think you are? Someone like you has less than 5% chance of getting the scholarship so you might as well get down to reality, buckle up and get ready to suffer.”

Oh, those words still sting, to have your own parent believe so little in you, for them to bet 95% on the chance of their daughter failing at the one thing she had ever cared for since the beginning of time. I bawled my eyes out after all that, my mom coming in my room to ask if I wanted to see a psychiatrist. I said I actually did but that never came through because why would it.

A couple of months later I got the reply that I actually did get the scholarship and that I was going to go to Japan for a whole 3 years paid by the Japanese government. I ran to my mom crying to announce the news only for her to furrow her brows and say “Calm down, there’s no way that actually means that you’re going.”

Thank you mom for the love and unconditional support… 

These are the memories that still burn bright in my mind despite being more than 6 years old. My mind still loves to bring the emotions and feelings of those moments into the present as evidence for why I’m unworthy, why I’m going to fail, why my success is not worth celebrating. It never was before, why would it be now?

My success is not worth celebrating, my achievements mean nothing, my accomplishments can’t possibly be thanks to my own effort and dedication.

Here comes the impostor syndrome all nice and strong, eternally fed by these deep-rooted beliefs still sprouting in the deepest pits of my soul.

No matter what I do or what I accomplish, it is never enough. My self-celebration does not last for much longer than a couple of minutes at best, my mind instantly cutting to the next thing on my to-do list. No time to rest, no time to recharge, there’s still so much left to accomplish before I earn the “loveable” badge, how could I ever stop now?

Therefore in this very moment, I am still not lovable, still not capable, still not good enough, still a nuisance, still a waste of space, still garbage personified.

So I live in fear of having these core beliefs reaffirmed, of being found out as the horrible person that I feel inside. Under-qualified and overpaid, selfish and uncreative.

And what is the only acceptable course of action when you live in constant fear?

Running away.

Abandoning projects, hobbies, jobs, people. Shutting the door behind me so not to hurt others with my presence, so not to waste their time, so not to be found out. 

I managed to complete Nanowrimo this year. It was the first-ever year I attempted it and it turned out to be a lot of fun. I used to write my own original stories back when I was in middle school but stopped for reasons I can’t recall. Not having written for over 10 years, Nanowrimo was like staring my own imperfect self straight in the eye, having to push through despite my inner protests of time wasted and the shame and core-beliefs brought to the forefront. And yet in the end I emerged victorious with another idea for a story that I actually felt quite passionate about. So I began planning my new story little by little, building the world, the characters and considering all the plot possibilities before I began writing again.

This is where my frenemies Perfectionism, Self-Sabotage and Imposter Syndrome came to visit, gathering around my scattered files and character descriptions, sneering to themselves draining me of any morsels of passion I initially had. 

I don’t want to work on the story anymore, it seems too much of an arduous task, a complete waste of time as well. What am I going to do with an amateur novel anyways? I should do something productive that can be easily monetised instead of wasting my twenties typing away worthless crap!

So many things to consider, so much time to spend, so much shame to encounter, so many negative thoughts to counter. The task all of a sudden loomed too high in front of me blocking away all the sunlight from the already bleak British winter sky.

I tie my self-worth to my accomplishments. And to be honest, I am quite unsure of what else to tie my self-worth to. How and when will I know that I am worthy of love otherwise? I don’t have that much evidence to prove my core-beliefs wrong either like CBT would suggest one tried to. 

I feel overwhelmed, extremely over my head, on the verge of tears at every waken moment.

Where do I even begin? There are so many methods and techniques suggested to help alleviate perfectionism and to finally get on with one’s life, to counter one’s toxic core beliefs and to create new brain pathways. 

I have so many ideas for paintings, for novels and stories and even game concepts that unbelievably I’d have enough skill to create prototypes for (“who doesn’t though, it’s not that hard…” was my immediate counter to the sentence as it appeared on screen). I don’t believe I’ll be working a corporate job in a few years as I’m determined to start my own business even though I’m not quite sure on the idea behind it yet.

And this list of things I want to accomplish utterly terrifies me because I’m sat here unable to continue working on any of these things, half-finished canvases and idea-filled notes scattered all about. 

How do I overcome my fear of wasting my time away working on something that will not pay off? I know this is another symptom of perfectionism – wanting to choose the BEST way to spend time in order to avoid any regrets and wasted minutes. 

How do I convince myself that I am worthy of love when I feel like every single person who has ever been nice to me has done so just because they’re well… trying to be nice.

How do I detach my self-worth from my accomplishments and teach myself that I am good enough the way I am?

How do I rid myself of the fear of being found out a fake? A fake designer, a fake web developer, a fake friend, a fake… everything?

How do I begin believing compliments when all I hear are notes of snarky sarcasm?

How do I get back my enthusiasm for creative work and my mile-long to-do list in general?

I titled this “in search for answers” but I feel like I ended up with more questions than answers.

My black ball of tangled yarn of thoughts and feelings has become looser but it’s nowhere near undone.

I just felt an absolute pit in my stomach thinking about how shit this post is, how unworthy of uploading online it is even though I know that no one knows this website anyways, and yet…

The pit almost made me cry, the realisation of how badly ingrained all of these issues are in me.

God I hate being me.

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