I like to consider myself a relatively confident person. I believe that inside of me still lives the eight-year-old girl who, when brought a dazzling birthday cake by waiters at the local Spaghetti Factory, proceeded to STAND UP ON THE CHAIR WHILE THE RESTAURANT SANG TO HER.
And yet—and YET—despite this young self-assurance, there are numerous ways I’ve made myself small over the years.
So many instances when I tried to take up less space (physically and logistically) in the world, or where I settled for less, told myself it was arrogant or presumptuous to ask for more, chided myself on wanting things, and on and on.
Part of this is self-preservation, of course. As a woman, I’ve had to walk a tightrope-wire of likability and strength. Don’t come off too arrogant. But don’t look like a pushover. Don’t respond if you get interrupted or belittled or condescended to, or you’ll look like a bitch. Laugh at the awkward joke so you don’t get branded a shrew.
And this is nothing compared to the daily micro-aggressions and supreme lack of respect/safety that people of color face—Black Trans Women, especially, and the Asian community, more recently.
Personally, I’m still unpacking the internalized shame I often feel about my value in certain arenas. I was raised by parents who believed in me and told me I was worthy, and still, that small voice—always, often, a buzzing in the background—tells me: Don’t overstep. Be good. Don’t bother or irritate or annoy people. Be above reproach.
Being above reproach is such a bullshit thing to even expect of a human experience, because it’s legit impossible. Living as a striving soul in a messy world is a training ground for the frickin’ reproach-olympics.
Recently I listened to a podcast where a very well-known motivational speaker said: “Remember: no one is thinking bad things about you. No one is thinking about you as much as you think. No one is criticizing you.”
No offense to this person, but that’s ridonkulous. Have they ever driven a car in rush hour? People absolutely think bad things about other people.
I, a somewhat nice person who works to be gentle, have thought horribly critical things about people. So have you. So has everyone.
Something that has given me a lot of freedom in the past few years is to realize that PEOPLE ARE ABSOLUTELY GOING TO JUDGE ME.
There are people I’m gonna meet who will think my clothes are weird, my ideas are boring, I’m not attractive, I don’t belong, I over-value myself, I talk about my feelings too much, or any myriad plethora of other critical things.
The thing is, those aren’t my people. I don’t have any responsibility to please those people by changing, and I don’t plan to.
Recently I had an opportunity to advocate for myself, and I did. It was hard, I felt like I wanted to hit the ALT-CTL-DEL button of life immediately after doing so, but I was proud that I did.
I think we forget this aspect of self-care and confidence: that it takes time, and work. We don’t just internalize all of these misguided notions of value and worth our whole lives and then one day wake up and say “You know what? FUCK ALL THAT. I’m going to love, believe, and stand up for myself now.”
It takes trying. It takes practice. It takes the uncomfortable feelings and, yeah, even some fear. But when we do it more and more, we can gain more and more skill at it, and we can feel “happy of ourselves.”
Whatever things are blocking your confidence, peace, or feelings of worth, I hope you find small ways to face your fears, practice belief in your abilities, and feel happy of yourselves.
THREE GOOD THINGS
One thing I’ve really been using to dig deep into limiting beliefs is The Pathway by To Be Magnetic. The workshops are amazing, and they have free resources and a pretty great podcast.
I really wanna make this creamy vegan corn chowder when I get back to rainy weather.
Have you heard of Wordle? What about Wordle10? I AM OBSESSED. Language nerds, this is for you.