“They look up to you; these younger employees look up to you and they are looking for someone to guide them”, my boss stated during my annual review. I looked at her dumbfounded, and thought to myself, Then they are fucked; who, in their right mind would see me as a fucking role-model? At the time, I couldn’t wrap my mind around being anything worthwhile to anyone, let alone junior employees. I could barely understand how to do my job, how could I possibly help anyone achieve their career goals?
The above happened a few years ago during an annual employee review my boss held with me. It highlighted something I already felt about myself – I lacked confidence. It was not something I had been used to. In fact, I used to have amazing confidence when I was in my twenties. I have often looked back and tried to figure out what happened to me, or what could have destroyed my confidence. I think it boils down to the fact that I stopped loving myself. I stopped experiencing being kind to myself. And, unfortunately, there seems to be no defining moment to give me an “a-ha” experience to tell me THIS is the moment that everything went down hill.
Yesterday, I had a reader comment on one of my posts explaining that it seemed obvious that I suffered from a lack of confidence and self-love. As much as I tried to pretend it didn’t affect me, it did. I know she meant this from a standpoint of compassion and a desire to see me express self-love and confidence, but I had thought about it over and over throughout the day. I don’t like criticism, but I also take it to heart and look at it from the standpoint of how it is meant. I know that there is a need for me to have more confidence – hell, it’s something I like – but, at the same time, I know that the confidence can not occur unless there is self-love. I think my focus needs to be on self-love.
But here is the thing; because I am capable of admitting my own faults for the purpose of becoming a better me, I pay close attention to criticisms. And I know the things that attack my confidence – those things that I have hated about myself. The things that I look at and think about how my actions have impacted those around me. And I have made some major mistakes in life, and some mistakes feel like I can’t overcome them. These have built up over time and I don’t seem to be able to find ways to counteract them. I have hurt those I care about, I have harbored anger over people that have wronged me, because I don’t want to react in a way that is counter-productive to a relationship. I have listened to criticisms that have attacked my self-worth and have given them credence to impart a judgment upon me.
And now, as I write these things, the anger begins to evolve and seep out of me. How could I EVER let anyone make me hate myself? How can I possibly allow someone to dictate what I like about myself? How have I become a person that is embarrassed by my basic nature, because it somehow makes someone else feel bad about themselves? What was I thinking in remaining in situations that were toxic and not beneficial to anyone involved?
These are questions that have played out over and over. And yet, I have always been willing to forgive people, even when they have not sought forgiveness. There are times when I would resolve myself to be stoic and strong in the face of vehement opposition to the things I believe. Does this have a negative impact on me? Has this caused me to question myself?
I have often contemplated the ways to handle things in life and I have always had the frame of mind to stand strong in your convictions and beliefs, but there have been things that have caused me to question the very foundations of my beliefs. These things have left me reeling from the outcomes and consequences of various actions. I have always had the belief that if I am understood, then I am loved; but what if it really isn’t about me? What if it is about what I need to do for others? How can there be room for myself? What is the perfect balance between doing what’s right for yourself and doing what’s right for others?
I seem to have taken the approach to life that I will join others in drowning themselves. for example, I see someone else struggle and I join in on their struggle out of a sense of wanting to help, but I fail to realize that they are brining me down with them. There is something about misery that can be contagious and I used to believe that optimism is the cure for anything. I once wrote a poem that I titled “Blackhole” (I really, really wish I wouldn’t have deleted my last couple of blogs) where I equated someone with being an emotional blackhole that nothing can escape; once you are in contact, it’ll suck you into the oblivion of self-deprecating thoughts and mentality.
The reader I mentioned above mentioned something else that I am looking at in strong consideration. She mentioned that I have talked about tackling so many issues all at once. ADHD was not something that was a reality when I was growing up, but I have had a couple of people mention that I exhibit some of those qualities, and it goes to show that I am the kind of person that I thrive on having multiple things to do all at once; which is the reason, I can easily come up with a kazillion things to take on at once. But the reality is, that it is hard to focus on something important when there are other distractions. But, I also am feeling older than I used to feel and I think that I need to use my time efficiently. I know I have some things that will take some major focus and there are things that I think will be a direct positive consequence to the actions I take.
But one thing, more than any other stands out as something I have absolute need to do: Love myself.