BECAUSE OF THE BULLIES.
I did a Q&A on instagram recently and someone asked me ‘Has blogging always been your dream career?’ and my response was:
‘No. I don’t think I’ve ever had a dream career. My self-esteem and self-belief has never been great. And I really struggle to commit to anything for fear of failure.’
And I had quite a few responses that said ‘Wow. Me too.’
It’s that age old feeling of the uncomfortable comfort of knowing you’re not alone. But feeling pretty bummed out that anyone feels the same way you do, you know? And it got me thinking, where does this come from? Why don’t we believe in ourselves? Who or what has made us believe we’re not good enough?
There are so many things that can happen in our lives that silently contribute towards self-depreciation. And for as long as I can remember I had that constant feeling I wasn’t good enough.
There’s more than one contributing factor, but over the last few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about school bullying. And have given a little more credit (if that’s the right word) to how that’s absolutely played a part in shaping who I am.
There are multiple areas of my life that I lack a huge amount of confidence. And I think a big part of that is because from a young age I was told I wasn’t good enough.
I wasn’t good enough because: I was flat-chested. I was anorexic because I was too thin. I was a lesbian because I didn’t have a boyfriend. I was ugly because of the circles under my eyes. I was weird. I was stupid because I wasn’t academic. etc. etc.
Apparently these were all negative things about me, that cruel people could latch onto. They were my biggest insecurities and people were telling me they were ugly – why wouldn’t I believe them?
I was a chosen target, for whatever reason. And because of that I really struggled (internally) with friendships. I always had that heavy weight in my tummy as a child that reassured me the girls at school liked the others more – because I knew I wasn’t as cool, as widely liked, or as popular. Mainly because I was told so, by bullies, daily. And subsequently I never felt cool enough to be in their circles and spent (way) too much time trying to be something I wasn’t with the hope that everyone would like me more.
In hindsight, I think I probably gravitated towards those girls because they oozed the confidence I so keenly lacked. But all it did was highlight they weren’t my people and drew more attention to me for the bullies to have their say. If I’d had the knowledge I have now, then, I would’ve told myself to relax, to learn to lean into the people that made me feel good not like I was a challenge to be around.
That ability to just be myself was never there – those fundamental years of personal growth were stunted because I spent so much time trying to fit a mould I thought people would like. If who I was wasn’t good enough, I should try and be someone else, right?
So it’s no surprise that elements of that time have travelled through to my adulthood and manifested in other, unhealthy ways.
BE THE CHANGE.
I am so much more comfortable with who I am now. I have incredible friendships that have been nurtured over the last decades, that make me feel welcome and loved and appreciated.
But there is still a piece of myself that I hold back from everything I do. For fear of rejection; for fear of failing or for fear of bumping into the little devil upon my shoulder called imposter syndrome. That struggle of never feeling good enough has slowly but surely worn itself into my bones. And it’s only at the age of thirty one that I’m realising maybe that needs some work.
I need to work on believing I am capable of achieving my goals. To not stop my self-growth because I think I’m stupid. To step into my thoughts and make them realities.
And for all the humans growing up in the world today, I wish I could take away the intrinsic feelings of not being good enough. Whatever form it shows up in. To have the power to let everyone understand that they are and will be loved. That being themselves is their power, not their weakness. And that the people who will lift you up and reassure you of that are coming. But I know we all have to go through these experiences to get to the other side and appreciate what we’ve built for ourselves. I just deeply wish it didn’t have to be such a painful experience for some of us.
What if we can be the people we wish others were? If we can somehow find it within ourselves to believe we are good enough, there’s hope that that energy will filter through. And to the bullies, perhaps you need more self-belief too. To be kind is our greatest strength. And none of us are alone.