Who am I, is the question I would ask myself from time to time and I would either answer vaguely…”I am a nice person” or ponder the question for a bit, shrug my shoulders and say to myself “ I am in the process of finding out”.
What I really was saying “I don’t know” Sure I can list a bunch of qualities about myself that I liked…I am pretty, nice, generous, occasionally funny. I could even list some not so likable things…envious, petty, too tall, indecisive…ok, I think that you get the idea.
I never took the time to actually discover myself.
When I was growing up, I was shy, awkward and not very outgoing. I always watched the other girls (the popular ones). I would copy their hairstyles, only to hate my hair because it wouldn’t curl like theirs did. I would literally stay up late, lock myself in the bathroom and put pink sponge curlers in my hair, creating a vision in my mind of the Farrah Fawcett feather-like hairstyle that my classmates wore. Then, morning would come only to find ½ of the rollers were on my pillow and I was left with frizzy, curly hair in some places and straight hair in the rest. I hated my hair. I hated me.
When it came time to sign up for after school activities, they picked softball. So, I picked softball. I hated softball. I couldn’t throw, the glove was “smelly” and I ducked every time the ball came my way. Needless to say, I was not liked by my teammates. I didn’t like me.
Now, I get it, kids go through stages trying to find where they belong, which groups to hang with, but I was making my decisions based on what other people liked. Not what I liked. I was more concerned about fitting in and being liked, than fitting INTO me, and who I wanted to be. There is a name for this self-destructive condition…..and I was infected by it. I have suffered from it for almost 40 years, and today I am learning to confront and destroy its existence.
It is called: LOW SELF-ESTEEM
What is self-esteem? Self-esteem refers to the overall opinion we have of ourselves and the value as ourselves as people. An opinion is made up of thoughts and feelings, not truth, no facts.
LOW self-esteem means that the tone of this opinion is negative.
I took those feelings of rejection as a young teen and convinced myself that I was rejectable all the way into adulthood. I craved to be liked by others and at the same time, I was convincing myself that I was unlikeable. I found myself not having my own thoughts and relying on other people’s likes and dislikes about almost everything. I wasn’t me, I was whoever you thought I should be. I believed that people wouldn’t reject someone who was exactly who they wanted to be around, right? I know you must be thinking that I must be …pathetic. Well, people do unreasonable, stupid and insane things just to feel accepted and loved.
I was one of them.
For some of you, that may be hard to grasp, but for the ones that have ever felt that hurt, that unexplainable sadness deep down in your core, convincing you that you were unlovable, abandoned, and not worthy of anyone. I understand.
I can list the many situations in my past about how Low self-esteem affected my life and the choices I made, but then this blog wouldn’t be a blog anymore, it would be a book.
I found my relationship with God. I say “found” because I had been lost for a very long time. HE knew who I was but I didn’t know HIM. As my relationship with God grew stronger, the need for me to know me, also did.
I knew that the feeling of love and acceptance had to begin inside of me. In order to do that, I had to replay, in my mind, all those painful memories that silently formed an image of me, that really wasn’t me at all and throw them all away. Not an easy task at the time. As I look back, I can’t even imagine how I managed to carry all that hurt, guilt, abuse, shame and hate. I packed all of that on the inside of me, and it would seep out of my pores every chance it got. I was miserable and I was infecting the people around me. I had to let it all go.
But then what? I needed answers but didn’t know what questions to ask. How do I go about finding who I am without asking for someone else’s opinion? I started making my own choices and decisions and, more importantly trusting those decisions. I trusted the fact that it didn’t matter if I made the wrong or right choice but that God was going to be there with me either way. Soon I started trusting me. Small victories gave me the endeavor to keep trusting myself, which led me to actually like myself.
I couldn’t have reached this level of awareness on my own. I am fortunate to have been introduced to my mentor, someone who overcame low self-esteem himself. I take self-development classes. I have a circle of friends who accept me as I am. They understand and encourage the journey that I am on.
I spend time with myself, and when I do something that makes me smile inside, I do it again. I am constantly giving myself high fives and fist bumps in the air, not caring if someone notices it and thinks I am corny. I am corny. I accept who I am and I love the person I am becoming.
Do I have it all figured out? No. I still get those insecure moments of feeling like I need to impress others, that need for their approval slowly creeps into existence. I pause and ask myself “is this who I am or is this someone’s else’s opinion?”
I do know that, when I walk into a room, I know I belong there, even if I don’t have Farrah Fawcett’s hair.
Founder/CEO One Red Shoe
Les Brown Certified Speaker, Trainer, and Coach