Tabula Rasa

19 Nov

quote, fear, success, failure, starting over, self-improvement, carl bard, inspirationalHave you ever felt like something (a thought, an idea, a situation) kept popping up all around you? I believe in the power of The Universe. I believe it’s always trying to guide us, and I believe in its infinite wisdom.

Recently I’ve been confronted with a series of situations and conversations centered around the idea of being undeserving. With one person it was being undeserving of success, with a few others it was being undeserving of happiness.

Tabula Rasa is a Latin phrase roughly translating to “blank slate.” It is the philosophical idea that humans are born with empty minds, and it is only through perception and experience that they gain knowledge. Basically, we’re all empty canvases when we’re born, and that canvas gets scribbled on throughout our lives.

I think we all see ourselves as Tabula Rasas. When we were younger we had so much potential, the world at our fingertips. Our youthful exuberance coupled with our desire to take over the world made anything possible for us.

And then? Well, a whole bunch of nasty shit happened.

We didn’t graduate high school. We didn’t graduate college. We got stuck in dead end jobs. We married the wrong person. We got divorced. Maybe we got married and divorced again. We suffered from an eating disorder. We struggled with addiction. We were broke. We struggled with our mental health. We were abused. We were bullied.

Suddenly our canvas looks like a Jackson Pollock painting, and it’s all our fault.

We spend years beating ourselves up over the shoulda woulda coulda of every situation. What if I hadn’t had that first drink? What if I had resisted the urge to binge and purge? What if I had listened to my friends and not married that awful woman?

Fast forward to when good things finally do happen to us. Maybe it’s finding a wonderful partner, or getting the job we’ve always wanted. Suddenly that pestering voice in our heads begin chattering, and the anxiety builds in our chests.

“I don’t deserve this.”

We’ve bought into it. The idea that we all started off so perfectly, and then crushed that perfection beneath the weight of our own stupidity.

I used to feel like an imposter. Work Jen is whip smart and motivated. Jen and Tonic is funny and insightful. Relationship Jen is loyal and loving. Friend Jen is generous and compassionate. But the real Jen? Well, she’s the screw up who hides behind the other Jens.

What I’ve come to realize is that those other Jens couldn’t exist without the real one. All those wrong turns I took in life shaped the person I’ve become. My insights, my humor, my work ethic, my loyalty, my compassion. These are all direct results of every single mistake (trust me, some were whoppers) that I’ve ever made.

Remember the Jackson Pollock painting I referenced earlier? And the splattered paint that ruined a perfectly good canvas? One of those bad boys sold for $140 million dollars in 2006.

There is value in destruction.

We have to stop looking at ourselves as blank slates that have been destroyed, and as amalgams of our experiences. Sure, we may have taken a rocky, more painful road to get to where we are today, but we still got here.

We still deserve love.

We still deserve success.

We still deserve happiness.

You deserve that.

107 Responses to “Tabula Rasa”

  1. talesfromthemotherland 11/23/2013 at 2:23 pm #

    Clearly I’m catching up on a week’s worth of posts… it was hard enough to write my own, this week, let alone read! But now I’ve spend a couple hours of inspiration and deeply moving words and I’m feeling grateful to this cold that has me on the sofa today. “There is value in the destruction.” Exquisite.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/24/2013 at 1:31 pm #

      Oh, honey. You don’t have to tell me about the writing/reading thing. One of the reasons I’m looking forward to finishing NaBlowMe is because I want to check out all the blogs of people I’ve recently met.

      By the way, that video made me laugh out loud. I want that to play every time I walk in a room.

      • talesfromthemotherland 11/25/2013 at 1:42 pm #

        Hmm, it plays when I walk in a room… you don’t have it playing when you walk in a room? 😉 You should!

  2. javaj240 11/22/2013 at 8:09 pm #

    “There is value in destruction”. Love. I’m appropriating it. Possibly, it will be my first tattoo!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/24/2013 at 1:25 pm #

      OOOOOH! I’d love to see it if you do ever end up getting it done.

  3. samara 11/22/2013 at 6:52 pm #

    As you can see, I’m catching up on a lot of blog reading tonight.
    This post has really touched me deeply.
    I have so much going on about being deserving, etc. I blogged about it in “how to destroy your writing career.”
    Then I read this. Almost eerie. Thank you for saying there is value in destruction. I’m going to hang on to that one. I need it now, desperately.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/24/2013 at 1:25 pm #

      Don’t give up. There’s this quote my roommate has reminded me of several times: “The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can’t are both right.”

      Just keep pluggin’ along, Samara.

      • samara 11/24/2013 at 1:45 pm #

        Thank you, Jen.
        Your support means more than you know.

  4. Psychobabble 11/22/2013 at 3:43 pm #

    Can you counsel my clients for me?
    Maybe I should just read them this blog post from now on and then charge them $150.

    While I don’t believe that we are blank slates when we’re born, I do believe that the potential for happiness or success or whatever you want to call it – good stuff – is always there. Always. But we can’t have it unless we think we can get it and we deserve it. Because whatever we think is the truth. The power of our thoughts is huuuuge.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/24/2013 at 1:23 pm #

      Feel free to print this out and charge an arm and leg for it.

      I agree that we are born for happiness and success. I think there’s this idea that if we’ve veered off the path (whatever that means) that there’s no way of finding our way home. But the truth is, you can’t go home. You’ve got to keep moving forward, and find a new destination. One that’s even better.

      The power of thought is HUGE. Agreed.

  5. shreejacob 11/22/2013 at 3:04 pm #

    “What I’ve come to realize is that those other Jens couldn’t exist without the real one. All those wrong turns I took in life shaped the person I’ve become. My insights, my humor, my work ethic, my loyalty, my compassion” – that was the awesomesauceh (new word learned from djmatticus’ blog..hehe) of the post! 🙂

  6. oddgirlnextdoor 11/21/2013 at 11:29 pm #

    I’ve been trying to see it this way. Ending a 14 year relationship is really jacking with my psyche at the moment, but when there is zero trust, there’s zero relationship. I’d feel better about it if we didn’t have a little girl, but I can’t keep doing this to myself, and he can’t keep expecting me to recover from the emotional bombs he’s been dropping for years. The “I didn’t mean tos” nearly got shoved up his arse the other day. But, there I go, Conversation ADD again. Basically I was trying to thank you for this blog, it helped tremendously. I personally believe that there is no rebirth without death, no construction without destruction…I just wish it wasn’t my life at the moment. But hey, win some lose some, right?

    • Jen and Tonic 11/24/2013 at 1:20 pm #

      “I personally believe that there is no rebirth without death, no construction without destruction…I just wish it wasn’t my life at the moment.” Nobody wants to be in that position. I am just starting to make my way out of an emotional hole right now…and it’s worth it. Please keep on pushing forward. Years from now you’ll tell yourself you’d do it all over again because it was worth it.

  7. Diary of Doting Mom (@shyvish) 11/20/2013 at 9:40 am #

    B-E-A-UTIFUL! Nice to see the other Jen as well. Keep going, girl 🙂

    • Jen and Tonic 11/20/2013 at 8:59 pm #

      There are so many Jens. This one plays nicely 😉

  8. Viciously Sweet 11/20/2013 at 9:06 am #

    Magnificent post Jen. I have conversations with people like that all the time… isn’t it lovely realizing all the awesomeness you spread in the world is because you are that fantastic?
    Thanks for making this post and being you ♥♥ and one more ♥.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/20/2013 at 8:59 pm #

      VS! So rare to see you around these parts anymore. You are a busy, busy lady.

      I think everyone’s purpose here on Earth is to help our fellow (wo)man. This is just my small contribution.

  9. jeandayfriday 11/20/2013 at 7:43 am #

    This post says so much. Thank you for writing it! I needed it today!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/20/2013 at 8:57 pm #

      So happy this post reached you when you needed it.

  10. 1jaded1 11/20/2013 at 2:03 am #

    Thank you and I understand this way too well.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/20/2013 at 8:56 pm #

      Sounds like a lot of people can relate to it. That’s what so great about blogging. We get to prop each other up, and help us see that we’re not alone.

  11. elinwaldal 11/19/2013 at 11:58 pm #

    So well said…worthiness is essential. xo

  12. girlseule 11/19/2013 at 10:37 pm #

    This was a really lovely read.

  13. legendarypurple 11/19/2013 at 10:00 pm #

    Reblogged this on Computer Blue and commented:
    This is a punch in the gut.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/20/2013 at 8:55 pm #

      The good kind of punch though! I’ll even massage your abdomen if it hurts.

      • legendarypurple 11/20/2013 at 10:54 pm #

        Sure is! It’s good to hear every once in a while that I deserve good things.

  14. Kylie 11/19/2013 at 9:35 pm #

    Another amazing post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/20/2013 at 8:55 pm #

      Thanks, Kylie! To be honest, a lot of NaBloPoMo people have been nailing it the last week or so.

  15. Inion N. Mathair 11/19/2013 at 9:16 pm #

    Perfectly said Jen! Hi we are new to your blog by way of mutual blogging friend Madame Weebles. What an excellent post & too true! If we could see those wrong turns, bad choices as experience that will make us into the better version of who we can be. We might be a little easier on ourselves & others as well. We loved the post & look forward to dropping by more often.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/20/2013 at 8:54 pm #

      HEY! Always happen to have friends of Weebs’ here. She is my lover.

      It is about perspective, isn’t it? We can either see things as failures or learning opportunities. The choice is always ours.

  16. speaker7 11/19/2013 at 5:25 pm #

    I have to say this NaBloWriMo has brought out some of your most insightful posts. I’m writing about poop and you’re writing poetry.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/20/2013 at 8:53 pm #

      I actually thought to myself the other day, “What in the hell is happening to me?” I’m having a hard time finding my funny which you have continued to do with ease. Apparently NaBloPoMo Jen is a philosophy student.

    • Sean Smithson 02/07/2014 at 2:34 pm #

      Both great reads though.

      But on this occasion, Jen’s might have just pipped it. Just… I really love poop.

      • Jen and Tonic 02/07/2014 at 2:49 pm #

        You do have a poop fetish. I like that about you.

  17. Madame Weebles 11/19/2013 at 2:44 pm #

    I too believe in The Universe, and in Synchronicity (the phenomenon, not the excellent Police album). Things and people tend to converge based on what you’re ready for. I think one of those conversations you mention here might have been with me, it sounds like something we’ve discussed.

    It also just so happens that this very subject is something I discussed with my shrink last week. She was talking about the “Parts” system, in which you identify the various parts of yourself, just as you did here, and then you look at which part is actually running the show. Is the Real you, the Core you, or is it a part? And if it’s a part, why? And which part is it? I’m finding it really interesting and instructive. We’re more than the sum of our parts, but sometimes we forget that, don’t we.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/20/2013 at 8:51 pm #

      +10,000 points for the Police reference.

      Yes, we did touch on this in a few conversations. It seems to be on everyone’s minds these days! Love the “parts” concept, and when I think about it, it is what has helped me determine where my negative thinking is coming from. Through this, I’ve been able to discover the real me, not the one covered in all the crap.

  18. omtatjuan 11/19/2013 at 2:20 pm #

    You Jen are incredibly deep! Wow! I am totally impressed and wordless! I happened upon your blog on chance and then maybe not. You are incredible insightful..

    • Jen and Tonic 11/20/2013 at 8:48 pm #

      Was it chance? THE UNIVERSE.

      • omtatjuan 11/20/2013 at 8:53 pm #

        Not:) After looking at your past posts this is the deeper side of Jen. I sensed there was a wise soul within..

        • Jen and Tonic 11/20/2013 at 8:54 pm #

          Shit. Well, I guess the cat is out of the bag. Don’t tell anyone, but you’re right, I’m not always an idiot.

          • omtatjuan 11/20/2013 at 8:57 pm #

            I’m not dumb as I look either:) Keep it going! This is the best part of you!

  19. superwomanseven 11/19/2013 at 2:09 pm #

    Truly insightful reading on this early Wednesday morning.. I often talk about the perfection bat that I beat myself with and you are right – all of these ‘Cristys’ that I thought were undeserving or fakes actually aren’t … They are, in fact, the product of all the disasters that ‘shithead Cristy’ trudged through to finally work out what she wanted….. You’ve made it really quite simple! Thanks xxx

    • Jen and Tonic 11/20/2013 at 8:48 pm #

      We need to star saying, “I am Cristy.” Not, “I am Cristy, but…” I think we all do that too much. We start tacking on disclaimers as if we suck so badly people need them.


  1. Punch You in the Dick, 2013 | A Clown On Fire - 12/02/2013

    […] in a marathon of Breaking Bad when success knocked at the door. Did you read Jen and Tonic‘s Tabula Rasa? She mentions a friend who is feeling undeserving of his recent success. That poor chap is me. It […]

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