Self-Confidence | Let's Talk
Today I want to talk about self-confidence but in a way I've never thought of it before. I had a moment recently when I realized my own insecurities. I am not sure how to push past them but I am going to try. PS comments and advice are always welcome!
Most people think about self-confidence, or moreover a lack of, in women, as looking in the mirror and saying "I'm fat" or "I'm ugly". And in that sense, I've never been that girl. Yes I get upset when my pants don't fit but most days I look in the mirror and say "I look good. Let's do this!"
I've never felt insecure; well that's not true but I never felt overly insecure, the type on insecurity that gets people in bad relationships or makes them afraid to take risks. In fact I am kind of a risk taker. When I started to have anxiety (read about it here) I shut off my emotions to stop the anxiety attacks but a few years later realized the error in doing that. So, numb to everything, I made a list of all the things that scared me, eating alone, traveling alone, moving to a city where I know no one, and I did. every. single. one. So now, honestly, very few things scare me. Of course there are things that scare me or make me nervous... I have a healthy sense of my own mortality. I know I could sky dive but I honestly have no desire to. For a lot of people I think they fear it so much that they feel changed after but for me it wouldn't be that transforming moment. That being said, I now realize physical things don't scare me; I am afraid of being seen for all that I am.
I have mostly avoided relationships - 5 guys over a 10 year average isn't bad, like you have a problem bad, but it is likely less than average.
The other day I decided to take a chance and sort of ask out a guy. But before I did it, I thought, "he is this amazing [insert all of his qualities here] and I am just me; I am not fabulous or as extreme about the outdoors and travel as he is so why would he even want to be my friend?!". I thought of all the things that attracted me to him, built him up, then made him almost unattainable, at least to me. But then I had to say stop and remind myself that I have a doctorate degree, I am residency trained which even more rare, I am creative, artistic, funny, I love being outdoors and I push myself physically and mentally every day; I have a lot of things going for me and the only person that doesn't see them as enough is me. And that's when I saw my damn problem.
As much as I told myself I was focusing on my career and busy moving around building my empire, I was actually avoiding relationships because deep down I didn't feel good enough, worthy of being loved.
And that's the hard part. I feel good enough for myself; I treat myself well, exercise, eat decently, I don't do drugs, I don't sleep around or compromise myself, I buy myself nice things and go on plenty of vacations. I like being around me and, since I am around me most, I feel like that's a good thing. But as much as I like me I refuse to let anyone close enough to like me too.
How do I change this?! Who knows! But let's talk about why I am this way.
I think there are quite a few things that have led to my insecurities. One was growing up. I fell victim to a pack of mean girl, I mean three-way call you on the phone and get you to unwillingly say mean things about the silent but very much listening third-party, I mean terrorize you so bad you eat lunch in the bathroom mean girls. Two things came out of that, two conflicting things actually. One I stopped giving a f*ck about what other people think of me. Now if I want food or to go to the movies or heck if I want to go on vacation I just go. I do what I want alone all the time. But strangely I've also become very much a chameleon; I can fit into any situation, I can get along with anyone because I realized it was easier to fit in than to stand out, it just minimized the amount of time I wasting.
I think I got very good at not letting people see the real me. Even though I was at the center of every party it was somewhat of an act. I've been a lot better about surrounding myself with people who are similar to me. And today I even called up a friend because I just needed to talk. I let her in and it was nice. I try to show people my house when it's messy or my face when I have no makeup. I honestly tell people how I feel and ask them for insight.
Secondly, I think, sadly has to do with the types of guys I dated. Man it really is hard being a woman in a man's world. I never dated abusive men, I was never in a bad relationship; I felt safe at all times. But we were all young and working on our sh*t. My ex from high school never really understood me. He was a stoic, never talk about feelings, kind of guy so whenever I was angry or sad he would blow me off so I learned to vent to friends instead. He just didn't think people should complain; he was a 'shut up and do it' kind of guy and now I can see why he joined the military. I was very much a 'it can get better, let's talk about it and make it better' kind of person. You really should be able to talk to your partner and I wasn't able to really talk to him. And your first relationship sets the tone for all of your other relationships, until you decide it doesn't. And it did. I have never been friends with a guy I've dated, I mean, not really.
My last ex, the moved to Reno with (ish) one, he never supported me. I realize now it's because he dislikes himself; he treats himself so badly and he doesn't think he deserves good things. He actually did treat me horribly but he didn't mean to; how can I be mad at him if he didn't realize his own issues were destroying everything around him? Back to not supporting me - when I lived in Reno I was offered a freelance lifestyle writing gig for a local news blog - pretty awesome, huh? This right-brained science nerd does have a creative side and that's rare, to be both left- and right-brained. Anyways I got the job yet he scoffed and said sarcastically something along the lines "how much are they going to pay you for that?!" when he should have said "OMG. Congratulations! That's awesome. I am so proud of you." And that was the tone of the whole relationship - let me make the plans because you will screw it up, let me cook dinner because you will burn it; he made me test drive too many cars when I knew I wanted the first one I drove (PSS we broke up and I bought Stella (the first car) and it was the best decision I have ever made). He controlled everything and made me feel as though I wasn't capable of doing things I am perfectly capable doing.
So when the people I let in failed me, I decided, instead of being made to feel less than I should, I would shut everyone else out and become strong on my own, which I am, but I am also not whole.
Well not to end it abruptly but that's it. I don't know how to connect with people, how to give them a piece of me, enough of me to hurt me, but I am trying.
PS - I have had like 3 BIG epiphanies since being home and it is changing my life, hence the epiphany part - I am getting tired. I know that my year and a half in Reno was one of the worst times of my life, hell I haven't been good in years, but if every moment, if every good and bad, horrific and wonderful moment, led me here than I am thankful for all of it. I have an amazing career, my health, I am focusing on myself and my hobbies, I am building an amazing tribe here in Bozeman, and I am ready to date again; I feel good and each day I find at least part of the day I am happy and whole. If I spent 10 years struggling to spend the next 50 thriving then it was all f*cking worth it. :)
PS if you are looking for a life changing book on emotional vulnerability, I HIGHLY recommend Rising Strong by Brene Brown. I have talked to numerous people who have read and LOVED it!