Saturday, September 21, 2013

What is your sense of self?

So even though this is my blog and it's a blog about self awareness I'm starting with someone else's words. This is the status update from my friend Nadine early this week:

"On the subject of self. Namely, today, self-esteem and self-confidence, in the words only I can have, as asked by a good friend of mine. My mother, with all of her flaws, had one quality that surpassed all others, as a mother. She knew how to instill self esteem in her offspring (me, and only me) Self esteem (God knows there are some people in this world who are still baffled and a bit pissed off I have so much of it) is knowing what you're worth. Knowing that you have value, knowing that you deserve to be loved, respected and considered. It's that part of you that will not stand to others abusing you, putting you down, and look down on you. Because YOU KNOW that you're worth more than that, and it allows you to ignore the influence of others on what you are, your own nature. It lets you not only accept yourself as you are, but to revel in your own self. You then deeply believe that you are beautiful, smart, creative and that everything you do, and make, is then valuable.

Self confidence will only come from self esteem. If you have low self esteem your levels of self confidence can't be very high.

Self confidence is the knowledge that you can accomplish anything, and gives you the power to go after what you want. It will enable you to believe that with the right tools, the right training, the right experience, you can do whatever you want, and everything will turn out just great. It drives you to take that class that will empower you to become a doctor, a lawyer, an opera singer, a dancer, a painter, etc. You know you can do it, because you'll take the means to get there. Self confidence allows you to take your dreams, and make them come true.

In essence, self esteem believing in yourself, in what you are. Self confidence is believing in what you can accomplish."

When she starts she talks about her abundance of self esteem, and it's true, she has a lot. When I first met her it was online and I thought there is no way she is truly this confident all of the time. Then I met her face to face and she just radiates it. Constantly. She knows who she is, where she is and what she's doing all the time. And it's awesome to be around. This is a picture of the two of us noticing that someone has picked up my camera and is taking a group shot (I cropped out most everyone else, they were all talking to each other looking away, Nadine and I were the only ones noticing the camera) and I want to show the difference in our reactions.

I'm turned a bit away, you can tell I'm saying something and Nadine is open and you can almost hear the Ta Da! That's Nadine. She owns a room when she walks in. And as someone who has more than a touch of impostor's syndrome I am in awe of that.

So it was really interesting for me to read her personal take on why she is the way she is. And then to think, how do the rest of us catch up? Because as she stated it was in her upbringing, she was always told she could do it all so why wouldn't she believe it? It's woven in to the very fabric of who she is. Me? Well, we've talked about it. My mother was pretty sure GOD had a plan for me. I had POTENTIAL and PURPOSE or I wouldn't have lived. But my primary caregiver for a few years was pretty sure I was nothing more than a burden on her life and should be told as often as possible that nothing I did, no way that I could look, nothing about me was good enough. Hell not even good enough but not worth anything. So I've had the war raging in my head for as long as I can remember.

I'm smart, I know that. I'm confident in that. Until I start to doubt myself and think, well I'm not as smart as a lot of people I know so I must not be very smart after all. You all know how I've struggled with body image. And with second guessing my creative talents. Constantly. I will talk the talk of the confident, I'm pretty, I'm smart, I'm talented, but the voice in my head is using "tone" and has an incredulous look going while I say it. I imagine the voice in Nadine's head is purring at her in French that she is absolutely right when she says good things about herself. How do we all get that voice? Not the French purr (which is awesome) but just the agreement? How do we get the voice in our head to agree with the confident front? Or even to get the confident front going at all if it's not there?

Well, let's see, for me the things I do are, I try not to argue my way out of a compliment. This is a hard one for me. Because I'm going to let you in on a little secret, if you say too many nice things about me I don't believe you. You can tell me that the dress I'm wearing is cute and I will say thank you and believe that to be true, it is a cute dress. But if you tell me that I have a great smile as well I am going to start to wonder what you want. And if you follow it up with I have a nice laugh I will know you are full of shit. Now I will still say thank you and smile or I will agree and tell you that you're right I am awesome. But that's recent. I used to tell people that they were nice for trying to make me feel better but I know my smile is too big and swallows my face and my laugh carries over three states so it's not that great but thanks. So my next step in my own self confidence evolution is to take the compliment and believe it. Not just take it, which I do now. But fully embrace it. Hard to do. But I'm working on it.

The next thing I'm working on is to stop arguing myself out of my own compliment. I am a big fake it until you make it believer. You want a change to happen, you need to feel a certain way, then act like you already do. So a few years ago I started to make sure I was giving myself plenty of positive chatter. You look nice today, your hair is shiny, that short story was really good. I tell my friends how much I like the way they are and dig the things they do so I need to tell myself right? So now I just need to get that voice in my head to stop arguing back with the yeah buts...My hair is shiny, yeah but wow, it's getting really gray. You look nice today, yeah but it's still not great. That short story was really good, yeah but you're still not anywhere close to having something that's worthy of publishing.

And then the last thing that I'm working on is learning to disregard the negative more. Now I'm all for constructive criticism. If I've written a piece and I get feedback that someone either doesn't like the flow of the story (for fiction) or doesn't like my opinion (non-fiction) those are things for me to consider. To look at. To use and take to heart or, and this is the big one for me to learn, not to. You don't like the story the way I've written it, let me look and see if it needs fixed, but sometimes it's just not your cup of tea. And I write a variety of things so this might not have worked for you but that doesn't mean it's bad. Just not for you. And as far as non-fiction just because you say I am a certain way doesn't mean I am. Your impression of me is just that, yours. And I don't have to take your negative reaction to me, or your assessment of my personality on as my issue. Which I tend to do now.

Nadine talked about it in her status, that there are people that are pissed at the level of self esteem she has. And it's true, I've seen it. I've seen people react to her by calling her cocky or elitist or any number of what should be negative things that they were trying to make her feel badly about herself with. She doesn't take it on as her burden. Her reaction falls more like this; Elite? If that means she holds herself to a high standard and only accepts certain behaviors from others? Then yes, she is elite thank you very much. Cocky? No, not cocky, cocky is all swagger no substance, she's confident. There is a there there. So to speak.

So, yeah, Nadine had a head start on a lot of us. She's already there. She is herself fully and completely and confidently. But we can all get there too. Find someone who is like that and watch them, understand them, and then understand yourself. I'm never going to own a room when I walk in like Nadine does. My energy (though high at times) is a quieter one than hers. I'm never going to purr at people in French and make them go dreamy eyed even when what I'm saying might be as simple as "Pay attention to me and pass the salt!" I'm not Nadine and I don't want to be Nadine. But I do want to be the most Denise Denise I can be. And being around Nadine has helped me along that path. And for those of you that don't have Nadine in your lives right now hopefully she just helped you as well. I'm going to leave you with two more pictures. One is a group shot from the gang that we hung out with the first weekend I met Nadine face to face. Just because it makes me happy to see them all and to remember how very freaking happy we all were just to be with each other in the same room.

The second shot is just my favorite picture of Nadine ever. Her husband is taking the shot and it just sums up her personality, her feelings for the man behind the camera and just HER to me so well that I love it. 

And I love her. 

So take stock in your self-esteem and your self-confidence. What needs bolstered? And how are you going to do it?

Me? I'm working on it. Maybe I should learn French....

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Denise ...oh and you DO have a beautiful smle x