I’ve always struggled with anything to do with ‘self’. Self-belief, self-confidence, self-esteem…you name it, I’ve probably had issues with it.
As I got older, I realised more and more where these issues stemmed from; my inner voice holding me back, comparing myself with my peers. At school it was ‘she’s prettier, she doesn’t wear glasses (I had a real dislike of having to wear glasses), she’s smarter.’ As I got older, I naively thought these little voices would vanish.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you don’t address the root of the problem, it tends to continue. It can manifest in different ways, but it’s always bubbling under the surface.
I got to university but still was unsure of my path in life. ‘I don’t have this qualification, or that type of experience or the right connections etc.’ ‘There are people who are more qualified and more experienced than me.’
The cycle kept going. It wasn’t just my academic life either. It impacted everything, relationships, friendships…I became suspicious and distrustful. When I did try and break the cycle, the little voice would start again…
I nearly split up with my boyfriend after a few dates. My reasoning? I wanted to get in first as I was sure I was going to get led on or dumped again like in previous experiences. I’ll just add here that he didn’t ‘dump me’; he married me and has been my rock for the last 12 years.
‘You’re not going to get that job, you’re not worth that pay grade!’
That last line! That came into my head a few months ago and I am now 18 months off turning 40! I applied for a job I was most certainly qualified for, and I didn’t get it. Start the comparing again ‘such and such can do that job, they must think I am really rubbish. I bet they’re all laughing at me!’
Now the rational side of me can see that more than likely, nobody was laughing. It wasn’t anything to do with my ability or lack of, it just wasn’t the right fit. But taking things personally and criticising yourself your whole life is not an easy pattern to break.
I have got braver as I’ve got older though. I can speak my mind a bit more now, whereas at school I would be horrified if classmates who I didn’t have close friendships with knew my name.
I complain when things aren’t right either, or when I feel I need to as I have been treated wrongly (in my eyes). I used to be mortified if my parents complained in a restaurant or something else; I would be so embarrassed. Now I am the one potentially causing my kids faces to flush red when I go into school to complain about something.
My next step is to put my ambitions first. I want to work for myself and specialise in minute taking, writing, blogging…you get the idea. I have a lot of experience and an eye for details but even now I am hesitant to ‘blow my own trumpet’.
It comes down to fear. Fear of judgement from people, who in actual fact are probably very insignificant. Fear of failure. Fear of the unknown.
You know what though. To hell with it. We are only here once (as far as I know) and I don’t want my last thought on my mind to be ‘I wish I’d had a bit more self-confidence, then perhaps I would have fulfilled my ambitions in life.’
Nobody can hurt me. Words and snide looks can be ignored. The only person who can damage me is myself, with the poisonous self-dialogue.
As my Uncle Martin would have said to me when he was here, ‘Just give it a go Lu!’