How often do you stop dead in your tracks, not following through with something because you think you are not good enough?
Not good enough to be with someone… (they won’t like you anyway so you will save yourself the inevitable humiliation of rejection), to send your CV out to land your dream job or perhaps even feeling intimidated to voice your opinion on an important matter.
For some, circumstances push us to think that we do not deserve the best and we ingrain that as truth. An unhappy childhood could have resulted in repeated instances of rejection and abuse, or we feel inferior to better-looking, better performing siblings (or so we believe) or we feel the odd one out in a group of friends who, according to our own standards are more successful than we are.
For some strange reason as human beings, we seem to easily doubt ourselves and what we think we deserve.
I remember myself being an insecure schoolgirl, shy and self-conscious, the quiet one hating the spotlight and always the last to speak up, when it came to self-confidence or valuing myself I did not give the young blonde, naive girl a second thought. My friends were all more beautiful in my eyes, always had more going for them, were a lot more interesting than I was and I would rather shy away than stand up for myself, never knowing what to say for it to come out right anyway – and therefore rather listening to the opinion of others and valuing that above my own. The trouble with that is, when you do it long enough you become invisible, your sacrifice becomes a blockage to your own fulfilment. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and since valuing yourself does not come naturally for you, it does not for anyone else either.
So without wanting it to, my reserved, second-fiddle, “rather serving other’s needs than my own” nature became my life. I was being seen as always okay with not being recognised, a soft voice rarely heard and a person accepting of being taken advantage of.
When one creates and accepts the path of least resistance at a cost to yourself, you become adrift in a sea of circumstance, flowing to where life takes you, your journey entirely left to chance.
Sometimes we get lucky and have the opportunity to grow before life-changing events happen like marriage and having children – and some of us meet a compatible, kind partner and it turns out well in the end, other times it becomes a journey, marred with blood and tears, filled with bruises as we are tossed to and fro. Life becomes an uphill series of stops and restarts until we learn. I very much fell in the latter category.
For too long I accepted the unacceptable, being silent when I should have spoken up, settling for not even second best, but the worst of the bunch. It took several wasted years for me to learn to value the girl who deserved just as much as anyone else.
Breaking free always takes guts and bravery and that is possibly the hardest part of all. Not many can stomach it. You have to decide to turn it around. It does not happen by itself, few of us are rescued while we sit in the corner crying. You have to willingly stop and restart – or at least try your best to stay afloat while you figure it out. Thing is, it is up to each of us to value our right to happiness, acceptance, support and emotional security. It is every person’s right to be loved, respected and valued.
Very often, whatever the circumstance of getting there, the banner of “not feeling good enough” was not a life sentence dished out by credible forces, we picked it up and hung it around our own necks. Allowing it to weigh us down. Believing it as if it was real.
The recent spate of teenage suicides popping up in the media almost weekly has me reeling in terror. Young, beautiful people buckling under the pressure of not feeling good enough, and believing that so hard that nothing else mattered! How do we allow it as human beings, for anyone around us to ever have to go through that level of despair linked to low self-worth? Especially with children, inexperienced and permanently under peer pressure. Let us take care of our fellow human beings and especially our kids! It is time for us to put the value back in being human. To refuse to be the one that dish out the pain, but also to refuse to be the one thinking that we are not good enough – and making especially sure that we do not mirror that behaviour to our children.
I believe that the best people are the ones that do not fully know their worth. It is often the kind ones that get trampled upon.
Three things always stand out for me in finding forward from low self-esteem:
Do it anyway
We need to reach for what our hearts desire. If you do not get it right the first time you have gained a heck of a lot of experience to move you one step closer to getting it next time. Do it anyway. There is no losing in trying and learning. It is the one who keeps on trying that wins. Good luck often favours the prepared!
If you do not believe in you, if you bring yourself down all the time if you start all sentences with “I’m sorry,…” others will have no option but to believe you. If you say so, it must be true. Be careful what you say and propagate about who you are and what you can and cannot do. You know yourself best, right? So do not blame others when they take your word for it. If you believe in yourself and your worth, others will do the same.
Let go of comparison
We are all on a unique path of self-discovery. What you see is very often not the whole story. I am starting to grow more and more intolerant of social media platforms. It does have its uses but it is becoming the main culprit of fakeness. Fake lives, fake smiles, fake likes, gathering bragging rights about things that are not important, flashing comparison.
You are you! Valuable, worthy and one of a kind. Surround yourself with people that know who you are, that get you, and who can support you. Be you in a way that only you know how.
This piece was inspired by a message I received from someone I have known for a long time. A person that I love and admire. She sent me a video with a message that read: “Done my first public speaking event at the office! She is brave and worthy. She obviously inspires others too.
She gave me permission to share this with you. It is called: “At what point are we good enough?” A darn good start for a first-ever speaking effort!