So I'm sitting here on my laptop on a Friday night thinking the same thoughts I always think before I have to give a presentation: What... do I... have... to offer? Like really. Self-doubt. Insecurity. Inadequacy. I'm flooded with all of it. Worried that the audience will think that my work is trivial (I mean, I do shop and play with clothes for a living), worried that as a white, cisgendered, college-educated, middle-class, slim/muscular woman... maybe I'm totally un-relatable. Maybe I have nothing to offer at all. Maybe my life looks too rosey, maybe my hardships don't matter or "count."
But they do. Of course they do. All of our experiences COUNT. Because they're OURS. Our experiences are what color our world. I absolutely struggle. I struggle with things that people would never imagine that I struggle with; "but you seem so confident!" people say. I am. But I haven't always been confident and I don't stay super pumped up on myself 24/7. Ha, it's too hard. I haven't always loved myself, my body, my choices, my brain, my mistakes. And that's relatable. We all have "stuff," we all struggle, we all wish things to be different from time to time. We all compare ourselves. We all long for something slightly different from our reality at one point or another.
So. Sigh. Tomorrow I get to speak to a group of pre-teens and teens and educators and parents. About... self-confidence. And style, of course. And how loving yourself can make all the difference. And I want everything I say to be true. I want to tell these girls that if they are equipped with self-confidence and a solid sense of Self than they are unbreakable and unbeatable. But that's just not the case. There will be days -- and probably already have been days -- when these girls will feel so beaten down; they will feel so defeated. And what do I say about Self-confidence, then? How does it help then?
What I've learned over the years is this: know your personal truth. Establish your personal truth on your own, for yourself. You get to decide what you think of you. Not everyone will accept you!. You will be told "no" and "I don't like you" and even horrible, terrible things about your outward appearance. It's going to HURT!!! The world has always been this way and may never change. I am daily reminded that I am not "for everyone." But it is in these moments of pain that I hold onto my truths:
- I was made to give and receive love. Fact.
- My beauty is intrinsic... it has everything to do with the way I connect with and serve others and pretty much nothing to do with how I look. My physical appearance is a bonus. The way my body is shaped is a bonus. The way I dress is a bonus. Only the last one is a choice (and thank goodness because I sure do love to shop.)
- What I value in life, in relationships and in myself is different from what others value. That's okay. My values are not flexible.
Do I get carried away in comparison? Yep. Do I ever feel rejected and worthless? Sure do. And then I remember my list of truths. My purpose. My beauty. My values. The more we self-explore, the more we find what makes us work and tick and LOVE... the more unshakable we truly are. Getting rattled, shaken up and beaten down is inevitable. But rallying around our truths is a way to rise.
If your current truths are mean and ugly (about yourself and/or others), fake some nice stuff. Fake a nice list of truths. And then stick to those. The negative "truths" don't help. They're not useful. They get you no where (I ABSOLUTELY PROMISE. I know because I was once married to ALLLL the negatives. For real.) Commit to the good. Watch how your mind and outlook shifts.