If I were a perfect person in a perfect world I would not care about stats. (That’s what I tell myself.)
However, as an imperfect person in an imperfect world, may I share one of my greatest joys and shames with you?
I am a long-term lover of stats and the thrill of numbers.
They have made this heart race to the stars and back over the years.
A little background: I am a financial person. Two of my part-time jobs involve budgeting, comparing, saving, reporting and creating journal entries.
Oh how I’ve adored playing with numbers! Up, down, backwards, forwards! It’s like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle. It’s been darn fun.
Unfortunately, there’s a flip side to this passion. I can get obsessive-compulsive about numbers.
(Hangs head in guilt and shame, but is glad to share this with you. To come clean with my imperfections.)
The psychologist I worked for after college once said, “You can be a bit obsessive-compulsive, you know.”
Then he grinned.
“But so can I,” he continued. “And so can many, many other people. It’s how we handle it that counts.”
It started back in my 20’s. I found myself counting supper dishes while washing them. (Oh, the shame!) One dish, two dish, red dish, blue dish. You know. Sixteen plates, one cup and how many glasses?
This lasted for a year or two–maybe a month, maybe longer–how’s one to recall? and then finally, one day, the Inner Sensible One rolled her eyes at the infernal counting and said, “ENOUGH! ENOUGH! We will not be known as the one who counts dishes.”
So I stopped.
(Continued counting numbers at work, but forget about those dishes. Why would anyone count dishes, anyway?)
Years passed. I don’t think I counted anything else until–one day, out of the blue, it felt like fun to count car mileage.
Every Sunday I would roll the trip meter back to zero and proceed to watch the mileage build up. Oh what fun it was! One, two, sixteen, one hundred, two hundred, oh no, Kathy, global warming as a direct result of your trips to town! Every Sunday we would start over again. This went on for one year, two years, three years… until the day when I said, “You are SO done with counting car mileage, baby! ENOUGH! What kind of crazy person counts car mileage?”
So I started budgeting our personal finances. Oh, that was fun! We saved one dollar, spent one dollar and it went in this category, that category, and here’s how much we saved in one month and six months and ohmygoodness, we didn’t go broke this year!
Until the day–maybe four years ago–where I said, “Enough! You always spend just the right amount, not too much, not too little. Let’s just trust the Universe to provide, shall we?”
And then…you know where this is going, don’t you?…I started blogging on WordPress. They have the MOST lovely handy-dandy stats page where you can stare MESMERIZED at numbers to your heart’s content.
You can analyze, watch, peer, measure your self-worth and watch flow charts, I swear. You can see the number of folks reading from Kathmandu. You can see how many came from this blog or that search engine. You can flip out in joy to watch the numbers go up, up, up! (Or despair as they stay stagnate, stagnate, stagnate.)
The first year I was in Heaven. I remember getting 12,000 hits and thinking it was the Second Coming. You’d be washing dishes and run over to see how many numbers you had. You could be walking in the woods and smile thinking about numbers. It made your heart sing.
Here’s the ugly part. Somewhere along the line, my thoughts began to equate high stats with high self-worth and low stats with low self-worth. I felt good with one hundred hits and bad with ten. That felt wrong. The heart did not sing. My heart knew this wasn’t true, but I felt somehow worthy–worthwhile–and gave away power to the numbers.
Thank all the stars in the heavens, last spring I finally said, “ENOUGH! Why are you connecting stats with self-worth? Time to stop this silly behavior of equating numbers with success. What will you deem ultimate success? 300,000 hits? 500,000 hits? 1 million hits? Will the madness never end?”
And you know what, thank you Universe, something in me suddenly ceased to equate stats with self-worth. It felt like a gift of grace. It felt like reuniting with the deeper heart.
Unfortunately, I still love stats. I still like to see how many hits I have. To see how many have come a’visiting. (79 as of 10:39 a.m. Sunday. 203 on Saturday. 339 on Friday. 140 on Oct. 20th. 1,148 on Oct. 29th.)
It’s still fun to play. But it doesn’t feel as much like a self-worth comparison trip any more.
Part of me feels ashamed just to share those numbers with you. I mean–we’re not supposed to care! We’re supposed to be more mature! We’re supposed to blog from our heart without much concern for statistics.
And what if people start comparing your numbers with theirs and feel awful that they don’t have as many hits? Then I would want to cry in despair that they might feel unworthy or sad or lesser than. Or what if they feel smug and self-satisfied that they have more? It’s this COMPARISON thing that creates the sense of shame, of wanting to hide this compulsion beneath the bottom of the wood pile.
The other part of me still feels a leap of joy, of delight, of the dance of numbers.
One of these days something in me may say “ENOUGH! No more stats obsession, Kathy! You will grow up 100% and be 100% mature! You will cease to count anything except maybe the taxes.”
In the meantime…yep, I just checked, still 79 hits…
P.S. Please be kind to me in the comments. I’ll bet you have some weaknesses, too. I’ll try to be kind to you in return.