“Appreciate it more…”

I don’t know if this is common, but I have a bizarre way of putting things off with the idea that I should save them for when I’ll “appreciate it more” or “be more deserving of it.” Like, odd things. Like paper or yarn I’ve been saving for years because I’m insufficiently talented to deserve using it. Or books I’ve put off reading because I don’t yet have the critical skills to enjoy them at a level I would consider acceptable. Or trips to places I for some reason don’t think I deserve to visit. Or, rather sadly, novels I haven’t written because I’m not good enough to write them yet.

I’ve sort of always imagined some future version of myself who would be the person who might adequately enjoy these things: I’ll go to Egypt when I truly understand the history, and have fully studied the art. I’ll use that lovely sock weight yarn in the perfect colors when the socks I make actually come out the same length. I’ll write that coming of age novel I’ve been talking about for years when I really understand what writing is all about. But this is an insanely backwards way to think about things. There is no exhaustion of travel, no supply that can’t be replenished, no book that can’t be rewritten, and denying one’s self the joy of things simply because you’ve found yourself unworthy is ridiculous. Fully and utterly ridiculous.

This has always been a problem. I have sheets of screen tone transfers1 I’ve been saving for some special, deserving version of myself since I was literally in elementary school. I found the stress of using something I didn’t “deserve” so paralyzing that I never got to use most of the beautiful things I owned in my childhood. All the beautiful paint sets and calligraphy pens I had dried up having never been used.

You’d think I could take a lesson from that and just go to Egypt for “research”.2 But now it’s very dangerous and expensive, so instead I’m going to Greece, and I have that same anxiety about it: that on some fundamental level, this is a trip that someone more deserving should take. Which is logically insane. Because it’s not as though I’m giving it to a future deserving version of myself, and it’s not as though I’m somehow stealing it from someone more deserving either.

I always think of this Amanda Palmer song when I’m trying to remind myself that there is no future self except as a mental construct, and that my instinctual drive towards self-denial and self-punishment is not going to turn me into that future self. And that, honestly, worshipping at the altar of self-loathing hasn’t gotten me anything that I want, and all the things I’m good at–writing, for example–have been delayed in my life because I thought they were inherently worthless and wasteful to do simply because I enjoyed them.

Anyway, I hope I am “exactly the person that I want to be.”

  1. This is how gradients used to be done in comics!
  2. For some reason completely unrelated to taxes, my books do seem to make use of things I’ve always wanted to do and see. Gosh, so much research. But you gotta do what you gotta do.