Who the hell am I?

All through last year I had my happiness project on-going.

Sometimes more seriously, sometimes as a reminder in the background.

I struggled then, and I struggle now to understand these categorisations about people, that should make it easier to form habits.

I really do want to form a few more good habits and let go of some bad ones. That’s why I try to make sense of who I am. But I constantly have the feeling, that I just don’t fit. I am not one or the other. Sometimes I like to do things this way, sometimes that way. I’ve even gone as far as to grab workbooks from the library that are supposed to help you find ways to categorize yourself.

I guess that this is one charasteristic that does define me somehow – when I am intrested in a subject, I try to dig as deep into it as I can. But I don’t know how does that help with forming habits!

So, even though I feel like I have come really far with a lot of things during my journey last year, I am still at a bit of a loss with a bunch of other stuff.

Anyone else out there with the feeling that you don’t seem to be fitting through any of the holes in that shape-sorting lid? How did you go about habit formation?

Start trying, start failing

I had a bit of an epiphany today.

For quite a long time now I have been a perfectionist. I don’t know exactly how I have developed this tendency, as I’m quite sure I wasn’t always like that.

To me perfectionism can be summarized to the sentence “I’m not good enough.”

I feel I am a failure if I believe I don’t perform as well as others. And I often believe that. I have a hard time showing people who I really am, in fear of not being accepted. Hell I may not send messages to old friends on my worst days for fear of bugging them.

I don’t ask for help, cause I have to be strong. I never rejoice if others fail – I’m way too kind for that – but other people’s success does make me feel average. And oh how I abhor that word! I truly want to excel at everything I do and procrastinating is a huge part of that.

Until today, that is. As my usual perfectionist self I had decided some time ago to go for a certification. Quite a difficult one, looks nice on your cv. Not everyone passes, so of course I should. Except I didn’t!

And to my surprise I didn’t beat myself about it. Sitting here quite calmly writing about the incident and I’m fine with my failure. Nothing broke. No one cares. Paycheck will keep coming in. I’m still allowed to go to the office tomorrow.

So I started wondering about what has happened during last year. I’ve expressed my opinions freely at work. I have a lot more courage on that front being the authentic me in my professional role. I know how to make an argument. And I don’t mind not always winning them. I even had something I would call arguments with a friend. That shit scares the hell out of me! Turns out the friend didn’t leave me because of those disagreements.

And so – there was an intresting passage in the article I linked to above, which I think holds true for me;

Brown’s remedy? Try practicing authenticity. Let others see you, exactly as you are, and let go of the protecting shield of perfectionism in order to express vulnerability.

“Authenticity is a practice and you choose it every day,” she says, “sometimes every hour of every day.”

Not to worry though – I’m not perfect yet (pun intended!!). Just today I felt very inadequate with my process compared to a colleague. So there’s still a long road ahead!

End of the year

The end of the year is a time for many to reflect on the past year. Even though I like to consider myself as a rebel sometimes, I shall not make an exeption to the rule here, but instead reminisce about the past year…

Plans that didn’t happen

I wanted to make this year a Gretchen Rubin style happiness project. And I had a whole plan laid out for monthly goals. Nagging tasks, relationship, children, work, friends…

I had a good start to my journey, but pretty soon I learned something intresting about myself.

I can’t follow to do -lists! It was a surprise as I always took myself as someone who lives off ticking those boxes. But no.

It was all good, until I started failing on my goals and not ticking those boxes. It made me feel totally defeated and totally un-motivated to do anything.

I’ve never really been one for happy mediums.

It means that I sort of gave up on the whole plan as it seemed I couldn’t follow it anyway – instead of adjusting it somehow.

Perhaps this personality trait is one that I should work on next year!

Was it good for nothing then

Whether I followed any plan or not, the year has been such a rollercoaster ride, that I must’ve learned something!!

At least I’m not beating myself up for letting those plans go. That’s a lesson learned right there…

Which brings me to the twelve guidelines I had set up for my project.

I feel that even though I haven’t been following any kind of plan on my path to happiness, I actually have been following my guidelines.

  • So I didn’t follow my plan to make this a year of my happiness project. So what? No one is going to blame me for that, unless I do it my self; let it go!
  • I have been taking a lot of chances this year, things I wouldn’t have had the courage to do in the past. I think I have realized that here is now and tomorrow the chance might be gone.
  • This guideline I haven’t been excellent in following though. But I always knew it was going to be a hard one for me, because I am quite an impulsive and emotional person. So I still don’t have patience, at least not much.
  • If I have learned to let go, I think I have a little more mercy than before. This is especially in relation to myself. I’m actually quite forgiving towards other people – but I have very demanding standards for myself. So – more work on this coming up next year!
  • Just jumping has a great deal to do with the concept of being in the moment (“here is now”), a great many similarities with following your feelings and getting excited. This trio, I think, is the powerful driver behind many of my actions during the past year. As I have been getting in touch with my emotions more and more, I’ve had better opportunities in following that famous intuition. Sometimes I’ve almost left something undone, because I’ve been so damn scared. And sometimes I’m jumping all over the place in the excitement of finally being a bit more in touch with my inner self. And actually getting excited about things again. Like gitty kinda excited. It’s an amazing feeling.
  • One of the things I have learned most about is paying attention to the little things. So I’m happy to report that I now can see the trees instead of always just seeing the forest. And boy does that help bring a lot of happiness to my days! I take so much more pleasure nowadays from having a well made cup of coffee, a beautiful song, looking at the sunset or beautiful colors of the fall.
  • The hardest part about being kind is being kind towards myself. I find easily good things to say about almost anyone or anything else, but I still tend to talk down to myself. One goal for being kind, was to be kinder towards nature and animals too. I have switched my diet closer to being vegan, but I’m not exactly there yet. That’s a bit of a conundrum actually. Being kind to myself requires a bit of self-centeredness too. And I really hate cooking! Learning new things in the kitchen just does not make me happy. That’s why I’m still compromising on my diet. Because I just get super-frustrated when the food doesn’t get done easily enough.
  • Must love myself is one other hard guideline to follow. But I have started learning how to praise myself in job interviews at least. I still have a tendency to think people don’t like me very much, even if I would love them to bits. I don’t know why that is. Why should anyone spend time with me, if they hated me? If I have a bad day and, let’s say our kids are annoying the shit out of me, I blame myself for having those thoughts. As in “why am I not more grateful for having such a life. Why am I not happy as it is?” So you see, it is not easy, loving myself.
  • My favorite out of all the guidelines is this: Be an Optimist Prime. I do believe, that as I’ve gotten better with my other guidelines, I am closer to becoming this Optimist Prime. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t look like that on a lot of days, as it has not been the easiest of years. But more often that not, I seem to find the silverlining in things. I still have my fears and anxieties, but mostly I don’t let them stop me.

What the year has brought me, even without following the plan, has been pretty amazing actually.

I have made two friends, which I don’t believe would have happened without me growing as a person. Amazing times spent with old friends. Trust. Laughter and tears. Good music. Intresting conversations. Amazing tattoos. Opportunities at work. Courage to tell how I feel. Courage to voice my opinions. A sense of humor, that was lost for a long time. Mostly I just feel that I am back – the slightly crazy, and slightly awkward type, who is never lost for words.

Happy at work?

Gretchen Rubin states: “Happiness is a critical factor for work, and work is a critical factor for happiness.” (The Happiness Project)

When you think about how many hours in a week many of us spend working, if going to work feels like a chore itself, you’re bound to run into trouble eventually.

I like work.

Sometimes perhaps a bit too much even – but it hasn’t meant that I’ve always been happy at work.

Actually, for a long period of time with my former employer, I would rather have broken my arm, than gone to work. Perhaps if I had analyzed properly, what really annoyed me, I would have realized, that my problem was not so much what I did, than perhaps the culture of the company or the clients I worked for. But all I knew at that moment, a bit more than a year ago was, that I have to get the hell away from there.

I tried and failed in many things before going after any Business Analyst positions (which has basically been my role for the past 9 years) because I was so convinced, software development or being a BA was not meant for me.

Now, after spending an intense rollercoaster ride of a year with my new employer, I can say for a fact I was poorly mistaken about wanting a different career. Even though there has been many ups and downs – not once have I thought in the morning, that I don’t want to go to work.

Instead, what this year has taught me, is that I actually love what I’m doing.

I get an amazing high when we succeed together. I feel positively gitty, when I see the magic of a software being built happen before my eyes. I’m excited to be in control of things and being able to answer questions. I want to figure out the best approach for the software lifecycle. Hell, I even started coding in my free time again!

Working with highly skilled and motivated individuals is amazing.

My former colleague has reminded me on a few occasions that perhaps I did use to enjoy my daily chores also when we were working together. And thinking back, that really was a time work was fun. We made an excellent team.

I had a reminder last week about how it feels when you work really well together with someone. An annoying problem was solved in a matter of hours, deadline secured and everyone else’s work could continue. The moment was bittersweet because I know I will be losing my friend and colleague to another project.

So this year hasn’t been all fun and games at work either. But it has brought good things to my life too. Most of all a friend.

Along has also come a realisation that I am a software development geek for life – where said friend and colleague has been a great influence and incredible support. When he says I am good at what I do – I sometimes actually believe him. I feel I’m starting to find my voice – so one of these days I’ll hopefully know I am good at what I do.

Knowing in my heart, this is what I really want to do, is a hell of a good place to start.

Sometimes I work while being tattooed. I love the fact that it's possible

Hiding game

The end of the year is approaching, again faster than one always seems to expect. 

Ready, set… No?

At the beginning of the year I felt like I have the energy for a G. Rubin style year-long happiness project. In retrospective I think perhaps it was a bit too bold an assessment of my own abilities.

It’s not like I haven’t changed or figured out anything this year. I actually have learned a hell of a lot. 

And I’d like to think I am braver, and happier, for that. 

The road to a happier existence just hasn’t been at all what I planned it to be in the beginning of the year.

That’s a lesson learned right there dear people! I am not beating myself up for not following my plan through, as it was not serving me as well as I had hoped.

I have actually changed a lot of opinions and assumptions I had, when embarking on this journey. I think it’s all for the good though.

Chasing demons

Scary hooded figure
Back when I had my relationship month, I remember picking something like “chasing your demons” as ONE item, amongst many others, to work on. 

Quite ambitious of me. 

At least I knew myself well enough to understand, that I needed to focus on that issue. 

It’s just that I have since realized those demons are better hidden and much more powerful than I had imagined. I thought I had already done enough healing to take on this project full-on, but I guess it just wasn’t quite so. 

With demons I mean my insecurities that tend to cause pretty much every problem that I seem to face in my life. 

I’ve written before about how feeling your most negative feelings is needed in order to heal. But even I didn’t realize how well I actually had hidden my most crucial pains. But to hide your fears, insecurities, and pain doesn’t mean, they will not have an impact on your behavior. They make me act strange on a lot occasions. They are the reason I have trouble letting go of feelings and people, why I tend to overanalyze everything and try to be somehow more than I really am. They are at the core of my anger, that surfaces much more often than I would like.

Conquering demons

It probably shouldn’t have come as such a surprise, that therapy and happiness techniques sort of go hand in hand. But it kind of did. I’ve kept saying that my happiness project is not meant to heal me from my depression. And that still holds true.

A lot of the things, I have learned through focusing on what makes me happy, of course are good techniques to help with my depression. 

But to really achieve a more lasting happiness, I have to slay this demon I carry inside me. Until then I’m afraid it will always have an effect on everything I choose to do, how I behave, where I want to be in life. 

Just understanding this, and knowing I can now work on this issue, has made me that much happier again.

Things can go well, even when they don’t go according to plan.

On fears, shame and being you

Funny how I never planned feelings to be my thing for the month, but how it has become so. It seems my subconscious is pushing this theme on me, whether I choose to deal with it or not.

I think one of my biggest fears, and so also one of the biggest influences in my life for some years now, is my fear of being abandoned. It makes you do weird things. You do not tell your closest friend important news for fear of making them angry. You make your boyfriend suffer all kinds of shit, to test his love, before marriage. It makes you kick into complete survival mode instead of admitting you are weak – because you’re sure everyone will leave if you show them you can be hurt.

I have told before that I’m a big believer in the healing powers of friendship. But the fear of abandonment has sometimes hindered my ability to get to know people. I’ve left it mostly up to the others to somehow convince me, they actually like me. At the same time, what I really wanted to be doing, is screaming “you are amazing! It would be such a pleasure to spend time with you!” 

Then I bumped into someone. 

Who, for reasons I can’t explain very satisfyingly even myself, has made me drop my guard completely. 

It’s been scary, it’s been liberating, it’s been strangely empowering. This person has had such a strong positive influence on me, that I’ve been pushing myself in their presence perhaps a bit too strong even…

Which leads me to shame, and being me. 

I’m a party girl. So I went to celebrate a birthday. I drank, possibly few too many, glasses of bubbly. And in the heat of that moment, it felt like an excellent idea to start writing messages to this above mentioned person. Quite innocent ones, in my opinion, but I guess it led to some issues at his end. 

I’m hardly ever so drunk, I would do something completely out of ordinary. And I do stand behind every word I said. But because it had caused issues, I felt ashamed. I probably also felt ashamed because it hadn’t occured to me at all, that it could cause trouble. Mostly though, I think I was ashamed for letting my guard down. For opening a possibilty to get hurt.

Essentially, I realized, I was blaming myself for acting like me. 

Because of those feelings of shame, I re-evaluated, if perhaps I was also regretting sending those messages. Or for being so open about how big an impact he has had on me. 


But I can’t say that I am. I regret the needless worry I might have caused to a completely innocent person. But I regret nothing I said. It was all true. And none of it was meant as a means to hurt anyone.

Acting like myself throughout this whole experience has taught me another valuable lesson, which I’ve really waited to learn. 

That is; 

you really can not take responsibility for other people’s feelings or actions. You think you are saying “hello”, but their own history, fears, egos and what not, can affect the situation so that all they hear is: “fuck you”.  

Because behind every action, I have been truly me, I can let go of my shame.