On my mind
A funny thing happened on the way to the finish line. I went in search of selfesteem but instead found self-acceptance
Last November, I ran the New York City Marathon – an admirable achievement for anyone, especially me, a woman who has happily and consistently sidestepped gyms, exercise, and sports bras. It wasn’t a bucketlist item or a lifelong dream. In fact, pounding pavement for a random number of kilometres ran counterintuitive to everything I believed in. Namely, napping.
Apart from the exercise avoidance, my life up to this point was a carefully targeted series of highachieving goals. It started in early childhood when I earned all my Girl Scout badges in one year. It continued when, at age 14, I worked my way up from cashregister girl to the customerservice department – practically management – at a store in my hometown. This habit stuck through college, when I went to work for Peter Jennings, the top news anchor at the time – never mind that I had no experience, no connections and only a vague idea of world events. I set high objectives and worked hard to reach them. Each time I accomplished something I set out to do, I felt that rewarding hit of selfesteem. And I’ve believed that the reserve I have amassed from all those hits has served me well in my current occupation as a cast member on The Real Housewives of New York, where an unforthcoming party invitation can send one into a spiral of selfdoubt.
It wasn’t until I crossed the marathon finish line at six hours, 42 minutes, and six seconds, that I began to question the very idea of selfesteem – or at least the eager way I went about pursuing it.
Yes, I’m proud of my accomplishment, but I came to realise that pinning my selfworth on completing a run that a year ago I would have thought pointless was absurd. Selfesteem isn’t an emotion; it’s not a hormone we are born with or a chemical, like dopamine, that can be regulated with a pill.
It’s a cognitive process that strains to access our selfworth. How much wiser would it be to strive for selfacceptance instead? Selfacceptance doesn’t feed off lofty achievements or accolades to pump us up – it is simply the state of feeling content with who you are… or who you are slowly, thoughtfully evolving into.
Admittedly, it’s hard to just passively accept yourself – well, at least for me. So I’ve learnt that setting micro goals and achieving them is a saner path to cultivating confidence and selfsatisfaction. The small but meaningful triumphs we have each day – getting to the gym, remembering a friend’s birthday, not texting your ex – when no one is cheering us on are perhaps much more important to loving ourselves than those bigger and rarer wins. Even if you’re the only one clapping when you cross the finish line.
‘Setting micro goals is a saner path to selfsatisfaction’
RADZIWILL IS A BEST-SELLING AUTHOR AND A STAR ON THE RHONY.