Last night, I was out in town for a few drinks with my friends before they all jet off back to university for the semester. I staggered into the toilets, slightly tipsy, and came face-to-face with this message on the back of my stall door.
I photographed it because it really hit me in the gut. Self-confidence and Self-Worth are a bit of a sore topic for me, simply because I experience so little of each in my daily life. In my case, this applies to self-worth more than self-confidence.
I think it’s harder for me to discuss because I view it as deeper, more vulnerable layer of self-confidence. Underneath our outward displays of confidence, lies our overall self-confidence and our own perception of our worth. Sometimes, and is the case for me, our outward displays of confidence never coincide with what we truly feel towards ourselves.
Believe it or not, it’s taken me a heck of a long time to figure this out; 20 years to be exact.
Throughout my teenage years and small fraction of my time as an adult, the absence of self-worth and self-confidence in my daily life produced unjustified and unexplainable loathing and jealousy. I would find myself jealous of other girls that I ‘deemed’ more beautiful than me, more talented than me, or more exciting than me. This jealousy and frustration towards other women became a problem for me when trying to form relationships. I would instantly deem their friendship as a threat to my self-confidence and run in the opposite direction.
I would blame them.
- “They were show-offs”
- “I can’t be friends with people who brag about themselves”
- “I just don’t like her/him”
- “They’re so self-absorbed and ignorant- what’s wrong with them?
What’s wrong with them?
To say that I had zero self-confidence as a young adolescent would be a lie. When I was alone (which was quite often at the time in my life), I was able to look in the mirror and admire my attributes. I told myself that I was pretty, I told myself that I was beautiful and I believed it…until I was around other females. I would judge myself harshly against them without even realising it. My old perceptions of myself were replaced with frustration, anger, jealousy and all-round unhappiness. These unhelpful and negative emotions were not only directed at myself, but at other females too.
These last few months, I felt these emotions creeping back into my life while studying at university, where I was having close interactions and relationships with other likeminded females. The wiser, more experienced and less hormonal (sort of!) version of myself was able to eventually detach myself from these emotions and ask:
- “Why am I feeling this way?”
- “What is causing this behaviour?
- “What’s wrong with me?”
It took me until the age of 20 to realise that I was the problem. My own absence of self-confidence and self-worth were the weapons destroying my potential friendships. The unhappiness that I thought I was experiencing from other people, was actually coming from my own unhappiness towards myself. It was coming from me.
It was a hard discovery to make, one that was only possible from learning to view the situation as an outsider. The insecure and hormonal teenager that I once was was never capable of doing that. She needed experience and perspective, which she sure as hell wasn’t getting any time soon.
Admittedly, being an adult is a pile of rubbish. But if there’s one thing I’m loving about it, it’s a widened horizon of understanding of my own emotions. Whether this is simply from experience or from being freed from radically alternating hormone levels, who knows. Either way, age, time and experience has helped me to identify and attempt to heal a part of myself that had always been broken.
Ultimately, through this crazy journey over the last few months, I have come to learn that your self confidence and self worth falls into your own hands. You are the deciding factor. People can always reinforce their views of your worth and value, but ultimately, it falls on you. Self; the clue is in the title!
Since identifying the problem I had with self-worth and self-confidence, it’s helped me to view myself and the people around me in a different light. I’m able to recognise somebody else’s insanely beautiful face or body, without having to tear the beauty of my own down.
I have learned to stop comparing myself and feeling envious towards other females. Do you know why? Because there is only one of me on this entire planet. Just one model, handcrafted, limited edition. So if there is only one model made of me… then surely there can’t be any competition? This analogy, and the incorporation of mantras into my daily life has been helping me to change the way I view myself and my own worth.
So, back to my original story. When is saw that quote on the back of my cubicle door, it hit me in the gut. It hit me in the gut because it described the old me. The old, insecure version of myself. I can’t say that she’d fully retired, no doubt she’ll make an appearance from time to time. However this time, when she does decided to appear, I’ll be equipped with knowledge, experience and perspective to send her on her way.