“You’re always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company.”
~ Diane Von Furstenburg
Figuring out how to stop being someone, who needs to be validated by other people, is something I am constantly struggling with. I have always wondered how I am perceived by other people. What do people think of, when they think of me? How are my actions seen? What kind of person am I to others?
A lot of this, comes from this constant need to please people, to always want to be liked. To always try and make sure I am doing things so I don’t piss people off. This has meant I have spent years trying to fit into being a person for someone else rather than me. I even made my life more about the person I was in a relationship with, considering their needs more than my own instead of also thinking of myself as a single entity. It is as if, I am just deflecting my needs and filling them with the needs of everyone else. Which in turn has just meant that I haven’t been able to completely be ok with myself because if there is something that someone may not like about what I do or how I behave, I just shrink back and cringe.
Ignorning the needs of the most important person
The self-deflection would normally be down the absolute fact that I would think I was too flawed and didn’t know how to make it any better. Looking at yourself and constantly seeing your faults and feeling that you can never change them, is so debilitating.
I am one of those people who takes everything to heart, I have spent many minutes of days, weeks and years always questioning myself and my actions. This is the over thinker in me and has meant, I have become a complete self-critic. I have also let other people’s opinions or comments about me, haunt me for years on end. I don’t think people realise the impact their words could have on someone, they can be like splinters imbedded in your skin, so fine and sharp, slowly sinking deeper causing an infection within you. Sometimes people don’t realise the effect and other times they just don’t care.
Though many of you who know me, won’t believe it, I spent many a day not speaking my truth because I was too ashamed to speak out. And this was because of the overwhelming feeling of being mocked or misunderstood. I was always worried that my opinions weren’t always the ‘norm’ and so would just silence myself and follow the crowd.
The reason I wouldn’t speak out in a crowd, tended to be because I wasn’t always sure how my answers or views to things would be perceived. So, I would stop myself from being a position where people would potentially look at me as if I was stupid or completely ignore what I was saying and carry on with the conversation. This would plummet me into a deep sense of shame and vulnerability. Feeling stupid was/is a major problem for me. I had always taken myself very seriously and couldn’t handle anyone else making me feel as small as I already felt. It was like they were justifying the way I felt about myself, the internal conversation would just be “I told you so”.
This seems to have stemmed from me not feeling like I was enough. Not worthy enough to have an opinion, not enough to feel like my voice needed to be heard or not enough to think, what I was saying would be listened to by others. I am not yet sure where this seed was first planted within me but it was watered enough throughout my life for it now to be a fully fledged tree. This self-doubt has flooded in many other parts of my life. I doubted who I could be when I was older as I thought I didn’t have the intelligence or skills to make it in a professional job. I stopped myself going for University courses because I was too worried about failing on the acceptance criteria that I wouldn’t even do it. I doubted that I would ever be in a relationship because I wondered who would find me attractive or be able to ‘deal with me’.
Within the last couple of years I have started to do what many would say is a cliché ‘loving myself’. I decided this needed to be done otherwise, I would always be in a situation where I would forever feel like I would never fit in. Constantly, second guessing myself and trying to figure out where I stand.
This is why now years later, I am against the idea of having to conform to unrealistic, time restricted goals that you ‘must’ meet to feel that you have achieved something. This conformity that is pressurised through social norms, has exacerbated many mental health issues. It was like blowing up a lead balloon, it was never full but the weight of it always made you fall. I was and am always feeling that I am behind, not achieved what I should have at the age that I am. But in reality, I need to be able to feel ok with authentically being me, not hiding behind this exterior that I have built up because I didn’t know how to handle or figure out my own self. Maybe once I let myself experience the world without the weight of expectation, I may bloom?
Persistence even when you feel like you can’t
However, during the summer sun and long balmy days trying to better yourself doesn’t seem too much of a burden and your mood helps lighten the load. But as the nights have started to draw in and the effects of SAD are seeping in, it’s hard to keep up the notion of trying. It’s during this time that the year draws to an end and you look back, to what has occurred or what you have achieved and realise the end of one year to another there is no magical dust that will mean that the next year will be any easier. So, I won’t set myself up for failure with having New Year’s resolutions, I had already decided years ago that any changes I wanted to make had to be slowly introduced and intricately figured out. Because I wanted them to stick and become part of the person I am.
The only constant, is you trying to face your demons and continue to be the best person you can be. It can be so easy to get lost in this ‘New Year, New Me’ dialogue but in reality it’s not that easy. Growth, is a constant process and with that, I personally have to learn self-worth and this has to be dragged out from beneath the constant thoughts in my head and the library of comments from people over the years. You have to keep doing it for you because in the end no one can carry you but you. Once you have more of an idea about you, you may be in a better position to find your place in the world.