Improving is HARD.
If I've made a goal to run 5 miles in a week and I succeed, I feel great physically and emotionally. If I decide to practice piano more than usual and I have a smooth lesson... obviously, that's ideal.
But the biggest adjustments take so much more sacrifice; sometimes, even just wanting to improve is difficult. It would be so much easier to say, "This is just who I am. Whoever doesn't like it can deal with it."
One thing I'm always having to challenge is my pride. I know—my low self-esteem is a constant, ongoing joke for me and a cause for concern among adults and even some friends. But pride actually plays a huge role in that—pride that I think I know what's best for myself (of course I should eat one meal a day!), pride in trying to be the best at something, pride in not wanting to change my thoughts.
These are all things I hate changing. I hate having to redefine my self-identity, even if it means I'll stop beating myself up for the occasional horrible grade. I hate having to let go of grudges and reach out to people I've pushed away, even if it means we might reconcile and find peace. I hate admitting my emotional vulnerabilities to people and giving them the power of rejection, but look at how unhealthy that is!
I'm learning that the more an improvement can pay off, the harder it is. I've always known sacrifice is essential to change, but the deeper it goes, the more it feels like a self-redefining experience than it does a simple breaking of a bad habit.
My bad habit is sometimes a cognitive distortion (if I drop something, I'm clumsy, because I'm a horrible person) or inertia (why go running when I can rewatch a show?). My bad habit is sometimes not even my fault, like when my anxiety tells me to stay in bed and hide from everything.
My bad habit is sometimes a safety mechanism—if I push people away, they can't hurt me.
I wish I could write an inspirational, feel-good post about self-improvement, but it wouldn't be true. The truth is improvement starts with motivation, but motivation eventually runs out once the going gets tough. So, I guess my lesson this season is this: when motivation runs out... just keep going.
At least it means I won't have to look back on my life and wish I'd just pushed through.