On Running, Self-Esteem, and Validation

After that last post I got some feedback from a few people that was a little defensive. Even though I never said I hated runners, or that I thought they were stupid, my highly satirical post was interpreted as an attack. My original plan was to blow it off.

But then I read this op-ed at the Wall Street Journal. And this response to the WSJ piece at Runner’s World. And I thought about the conversation I had with T-Wizzle about my original post:

Me: I was writing satire à la Andy Rooney, but apparently it was lost on a few people. And I thought my joke about carbo loading was funny.

T-Wizzle: What was the joke?

Me: It was that carbo loading doesn’t have to do with a clown named Carbo offering gun safety tips while speaking only in gerunds.

T-Wizzle: That IS funny.

Me: I knew you’d like that one.

T-Wizzle: The problem is no one ever wants to feel bad. If you’re not validating what they’re doing, then they feel bad and get defensive. It’s called self-esteem because it comes from YOU, not anyone else.

I thought she had a good point. Now, if you’re a runner, or you are intimately involved with a runner, I want you to read this next part very carefully.

I don’t hate runners. Not at all. I understand that training for marathons and other races is intense. It’s a big world out there, though, and there is so much happening, and I know all you runners are so much greater than the sum of your pedometers. If you feel the need to broadcast your training regimen because it helps you stay motivated and feel accountable, that is absolutely your prerogative. But I’ll be honest: I care about you as YOU. Not as runner you, or philanthropist you, or computer geek you. All the parts of you are not as important to me as the complete package.

In the last few months I’ve noticed the lengths I will go to for validation. I want people to praise me ad nauseam. I want accolades and acclaim for my writing. But that doesn’t happen. There is no algorithm or SEO keywords that guarantees I’ll be validated 100% of the time for 100% of my work & activities. That’s where the self- part of self-esteem kicks in. I’m the only one who can validate me 100% of the time. This has been a very difficult lesson to learn.

I’m still going to make jokes about anything & everything. Not everyone will think they are funny. I’m still going to write, because it’s part of my identity. Not everyone is going to like my articles, stories, poems, blog posts. But as long as I am okay with me, as long as I’m loving who I am regardless of what I’m joking about or writing, it doesn’t really matter who is a Moxie fan or who isn’t.

So keep on doing what you’re doing, whether you’re running, walking, writing, reading, eating chips, or watching TV. I’ll go do my thing. And when we meet, whether it’s virtually or in the real world, let’s just enjoy each other’s company, validation not required.

Declaring My Independence

For the last 7-plus years, I declare my personal independence from something on July 4. One year it was “being defined by my job”; in 2003 it was “seeing myself as anything but beautiful, sexy, intelligent and worthy of prosperity and abundance in all aspects of my life” and “situations and people I have released” [had to look that one up in an old journal]. Since I haven’t always been very diligent about writing down my declarations, this year I decided to blog my independence. I’ve paraphrased the actual text from the Declaration of Independence, which I got from this site.

Sometimes, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for a person to dissolve the bonds that tie them down and keep them small and unfulfilled. In an attempt to pay a decent respect to the opinions of others, a person should declare the reasons why they need to break these ties.

Some truths are self-evident: everyone is created equal, and everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Some truths, however, are not so obvious. It is these unconscious truths that tend to limit one’s capacity to connect with others effectively.

Now, whenever attempts to suppress personal truths becomes self-destructive, it is the right of the individual to bring those truths to light. Common sense dictates that one shouldn’t make other people responsible for these personal truths, forcing them to carry a burden that really isn’t theirs.

Such has been the long-suffering of me, Moxie, and such is now the necessity which requires me to change my way of communicating with the world. My personal history shows that I have been holding back some key truths. To prove this, here are the facts I submit to an open, receptive audience:

  • I was fired in early December 2006. Since that time, I haven’t been “working from home” as I kept telling people I was doing. I have been sitting on my ass, doing nothing except collecting unemployment, surfing the Internet, eating, sleeping, and going out occasionally.
  • I am grieving over the loss of my job. While I hated it for a long time (I was there for close to 3 years), I am ashamed and embarrassed that I let my relationship with my boss get so bad that it could not be repaired. I am ashamed that I let the quality of my work deteriorate.
  • I don’t want to work in an office again. I hate the idea of having to be someplace 40 hours or more a week. But I’m scared that freelancing, which I’ve started doing, will not be enough to pay the bills.
  • I am living with my boyfriend. He moved in soon after we started seeing each other. I’m embarrassed to admit this to my family because I am afraid of them judging me, saying that I’ve moved too fast.
  • I am struggling to accept the fact that my boyfriend is an ex-con who will be off parole in a month. I finally admitted this truth to my mom 2 days ago, and she handled it fairly well. But I am still not completely at peace with it.
  • I am struggling to accept that my boyfriend is an addictive personality. He has a history of using illegal drugs and has gotten rip-roaring drunk in my presence on several occasions. He’s not abusive to me in any way, and he holds down a good job, so it’s hard for me to be clear with my boundaries regarding his behavior. My fear is that I am an enabler.
  • I am afraid of bringing my A-game, whether it’s as a writer/editor, a girlfriend, a daughter, a friend, a human being.

Therefore, I, Moxie, solemnly publish and declare, that I am, and of right ought to be, living a life of truth and integrity. I am absolved from all allegiance to being unexpressed and unfulfilled. As a free and independent woman, I have full power to express my truth, love and be loved, set my boundaries, establish myself as a prosperous and abundant writer of humor, opinion, and other things that amuse me, and to do anything else I damn well please as long as I don’t hurt myself or anyone else.

And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, I pledge to myself and my loved ones and readers my commitment to the truth in all things.



*Oh, and for those who don’t already know, my real name is Corinne.