Own It, It’s What You Were Made For
I had this great idea that for every single day this week, that I was going to say or do at least one thing that would leave someone wondering “what the hell?”
I had no real reason for doing this (like many of my stupid creative plans), I just thought it would be funny, and also, why the hell not?
On Monday I went to the bank to get something out of my safety deposit box. My box contains not much more than important documents and printed photo doubles that I do not have a digital copy of, but all that paper weighs a ton!
Do you know what 50lbs of paper feels like?
It feels like 50 lbs.
So anyway, I needed to put something in there and as the bank teller pulled the box out he exclaimed “good gosh your box is heavy!”
I simply replied back “seriously, isn’t gold heavy? I mean I know it’s a metal, but it weighs a ton!” I then turned and took my box back to the privacy room, where I attempted to stifle my laughter at his shocked expression.
On Tuesday I was supposed to have a chiropractor appointment, but at the last minute my schedule changed and I had to cancel. I called up the office and because I work there on Monday’s, and they have caller ID, the secretary answered the phone with “what up bitch?”
“My ego.” I replied back. “But unfortunately you won’t get to experience any of my awesomeness today because I need to cancel, I hurt my back.”
“Oh gosh” said the secretary, actually sounding concerned. “How did you do that?”
***Can we pause for a second here to take note of the fact that I just canceled a chiropractic appointment using the reason that I hurt my back, and it did not even phase her?***
“Too much sex” I stated.
There was a pause.
“For real?” she said, clearly trying to figure out if I were joking or actually serious.
“Yep” I said, offering up no other details.
“What the hell girl, what on earth were you doing?” she whisper-shrieked into the phone.
Trying not to laugh, I shot back very seriously and completely void of any emotion, “Oh, you know me, the bumping and the grinding, the bumping and the grinding.”
“Perfect” I said, “make me a legend.”
I then said good-bye and hung up the phone.
On Wednesday, I had to go back to the bank again, this time to make a withdraw. When the teller asked me how I wanted the money back, I told her that I wanted one of those oversized cardboard checks.
She laughed as if I were joking, and I didn’t laugh as if I were serious.
Then she stopped laughing, paused, looked confused, and just stared at me.
“Yea, I’ve always wanted to get one of those, it always looks so fun on TV” I said with a totally straight face.
Her face was priceless!
Eventually, she broke the news to me that those aren’t even real checks, and I acted disappointed but understanding.
On Thursday I woke up to an email saying that my bank account had been over drafted by $.67 cents due to a check that hadn’t cleared, and because of it I was charged a $39 fee, so I headed back to the bank. The first person that I saw was the branch manager and I took the opportunity to swanker over to him.
“Heeeeeeyyyyyy, wanna be best friends?” I asked, leaning over the counter.
His expression was even funnier than the teller from the day before.
“Don’t worry, I’m not hitting on you” I said. “Not unless you’re into it.”
I then leaned over the counter and in the most dramatic way possible, batted my eyelashes at him.
Again, face = priceless!
Because I am not a total creep, this time I did break protocol and let him know that I was just joking. He reversed the charge and I went about my day, deciding that the rest of the experiment was off because I was sure the cosmos were purposely directing me to the bank.
And there we have it, half a weeks worth of concrete proof that something is very likely wrong with me.
Over the last month I have been flooded with emails asking how I got my self-confidence. Now you guys have literally no idea how many emails I get, it’s a little staggering. I was telling one of my editors the other day that I think that for many people, this blog is kind of like their secret place; the place they come to heal, but don’t want anyone to know that they visit. I say this because the number of emails that I receive and the blog traffic I see in no way lines up with say, the # of Facebook subscribers I have.
It’s like many of you are lurking around, hanging out with your invisible selves, not quite ready to commit, but interested enough to keep coming back.
It’s cool, we can hang.
But the irony of it isn’t lost on me; the irony being that so many of you email me asking how I learned to be so self-confident. And these emails, although I love hearing from all of you, are the ones that yield the worst response out of me because I honestly have no idea what answer to give you.
So the other day, mid week in my totally ridiculous, utterly pointless, yet nevertheless super fun plan to leave people shocked for no other reason than “because,” I started thinking, “how did I become so weird?”
That question continued to roll around in my head as I spent the week attempting to reply to emails regarding self-confidence, and then suddenly the answer hit me.
It wasn’t really the conclusion I would have liked to have come to, but in keeping with my open book policy of sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of healing, I’m going to throw it all out there anyway.
I don’t think where I am now started out in learning self-confidence, I think it started when I gave up on being accepted.
It started when I didn’t have any self-confidence at all.
I grew up feeling as if I were nothing, because I was constantly told that I was nothing. If you remember in the post “Nothing More Than A Burden” I talked about the time as a young child that I found myself locked out of the house, in the snow, and trying to warm up by getting under my father’s car. The pavement was burning my feet and even at that age I was struck with the realization of “why go on?” I went on to say that I realized that day that I had a choice to make — that I needed to decide right then and there if I were going to be OK with the fact that no one loved me. I needed to decide if I was going to be enough for myself, because if not, then there was no point in going on. In my child like brain I decided that yes, yes I would be enough for me, I would love me, and I would go on, despite what anyone else thought of me.
But it wasn’t as easy as simply deciding “OK, I’m enough for me, I don’t need parents, a family, or friends, I’m good now!” No, it was a constant struggle to reaffirm that decision and as I got older, it only got harder.
I was a really, really strange kid. If you remember in the post “I Hope The News Doesn’t Find Out My Shed Burned Down,” I talked about how I didn’t say one word until third grade. NOT ONE WORD. Not to a teacher, not to a classmate, not to anyone. I might as well have stamped a giant “I AM DIFFERENT” label on my forehead because the kids, they noticed me, and what they saw, they bullied.
You see it’s one horrible thing to have your family hate you, and it’s a whole new layer when the rest of society seems to confirm it.
I remember at one point deciding that I was just going to be mean. I was going to teach myself to be mean and then everyone from my parents to the kids at school, they would all just stop picking on me because I would be mean, vengeful, and scary.
I stumbled my way through childhood, more watching the other kids than joining them, and then as a pre-teen in middle school, I began to yearn for the connection that the other kids had.
I remember thinking that maybe if I were funny like the popular kids in school, then maybe someone would see something, anything at all, that they liked in me. So I stopped trying to be mean, and I tried to be funny.
But I was never funny.
I was awkward, shy, and a complete introvert. I walked around with my gaze to the floor and if anyone spoke to me I could feel my insides shaking with fear.
And then I started high school.
The first year, I was bullied relentlessly. 14 is a tough year for any girl and I had a lot more on my plate than most kids my age did. My mother was gone, the kids at school hated me, I was running away from home, and I wanted to die.
I literally just wanted to die.
That was the year of my suicide attempt, that was the year that I met the kids under the bridge, and that was the year that I started cutting (and have since stopped).
And yes, I’m probably going to get a couple hundred emails claiming “AH HA!! We all KNEW you were mentally unstable!!” but first off, this isn’t brand new information, I’ve talked about my past before. And secondly, I challenge anyone to really look back and dissect their formative years as I do in this blog (especially if you came from a family like mine) and tell me that you were 100% peachy keen 100% of the time.
I wasn’t, it’s the truth, and we are now moving on.
When you grow up being told that you are worthless and then that feeling is reaffirmed by your peers, it feels as if you are trying to keep up with a herd and with every chance they get, they trample you and leave you to die. The pain of constant rejection, perceived failure, and impossible to meet standards, it was killing me.
So in turn, I was killing me.
Age 14 literally almost killed me, 15 was worse, and at 16 I finally turned a corner.
I don’t know what it was, but that year I finally decided that if I was going to save myself, I needed to let everyone else go.
My self-confidence didn’t start out with confidence, it started out in failure. I had gotten to a point where I accepted that no one would ever like me, no one would ever love me, no one would ever care about me, and when I finally accepted that all to be true, it was easy for me to let go of the pressure to impress.
If no one cared about me, why should I care about them?
I’ve often thought that maybe I didn’t actually succeed at life, but I failed at dying. It’s a nagging theory that I’m ashamed to admit, but when I look back on my 14 year old self, I believe it to be true.
I wanted to die, I just failed to succeed. I tried to die, but I failed and lived.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am so very, very, very, very, very, blessed that I didn’t actually die, but I feel like a sham when people praise me for having so much self confidence because I know that it was out of failure that it grew.
I gave up on being important, and when I gave up, I allowed myself the permission to thrive. I didn’t gain self confidence because I found myself, I found self acceptance when I gave up on ever being accepted by anyone else.
If standing proud on my own two feet meant that I needed to stand alone, well then fine, I would stand alone, and I would do it with pride.
I stopped caring what anyone thought of me and started living the way I wanted to. I had always known that I would never impress my parents, but now I gave up hope that I would ever impress anyone. I reaffirmed what I had already accepted as a child; that I was only ever going to be enough for myself and I didn’t care what anyone else thought about it.
I started speaking up in class when I felt like it, (maybe not the best idea since I was actually removed from class a few times by the dean of our school, because apparently I had become a “disruption”), and I started wearing whatever the hell I wanted to (note to self: burn all photographic evidence). I would invite myself to sit with anyone I felt like sitting with, regardless of them wanting me there or not, and that was the year when I decided that if I liked a boy, I was just going to go for it.
I was used to rejection, what was a little more going to do to me?
Then somewhere along the line, that freedom was noticed.
People noticed me because it was hard not to, and to my shock, they liked what they saw. It was mind boggling to me that when I finally stopped being what everyone thought I should be, that in turn people started looking up to me as someone they wanted to be.
When I had dared to step outside of the “society appropriate” boundaries and do my own thing, I had unknowingly become the confident looking one, the person who people were looking to for “the rules.”
That realization was absolutely absurd.
I had just spent my entire life trying to be just like everyone else, I had failed, and only when I had given up and gone in my own direction were people impressed with me.
What the hell.
It was incredibly strange and highly uncomfortable. People would literally say things like “I wish I was as confident as you are” and I would be thinking “I’m not confident, I’m fairly certain that I’m an idiot and I’ve just decided that I can’t hide it anymore.”
I remember trying to wrap my teenage brain around the concept that I had just spent 3 yrs of high school doing everything I could do to fit in, and had still been treated like gum stuck under a desk. It was only when I gave up and started living with abandon — saying what I wanted to, doing what I wanted to, without a care in the world— that suddenly everyone wanted to be my friend. The less I tried to impress people, the more impressed they had become.
Yet even with my new found and unexpected popularity, I just kept doing my own thing. I wasn’t at a place where I felt like I could afford to care what people thought of me, because I was still trying to decide what I thought of me, and I was tired of letting the perceptions of others change my own perception of me.
As I grew and matured, I began to realize that the people around me were not this group of super humans who knew the ways of the world and were better at executing them than me, they really were just faking it better than I was. Everyone was struggling, most just masked it better than I, and that is a realization that I’ve always held tight to.
I didn’t need to be perfect because no one was.
I didn’t need to be anything other than what I needed to be for myself.
Unfortunately even though I grew to accept myself, I failed to grasp that other people would ever truly accept me, and that’s how I ended up in the marriage that I was in. Yet even within the confines of abuse and despite the fact that I didn’t feel like I deserved much, I held tight to the person that I was (which is why I stood up to my abusive ex in ways that many of you don’t approve of). It’s a concept that I have a hard time explaining; that I fully accepted who I was and had un-apologetically made peace with it, but I still didn’t feel like I was worth much to anyone else.
And that right there has been the transformation that you guys have been watching on this blog. You have watched me as I’ve gone from accepting myself, to also accepting what other people think of me.
You’ve watched as I’ve waded through what life has given me, learned from it, and become better because of it. You all have had a front row seat in watching me find my place in this world.
Nothing that has happened to me has been “normal,” but I tried to be “normal” once and it stunted me. As you’ve seen, being unique is when I grow.
I’m not like everyone else, and I love it! I love that I bring something different to this world than the other 7.2 billion people on the planet. How awesome is that? What a blessing to be able to impact the world in my own unique way, in a way that no one else is.
Not only do I accept who I am, but I finally, truly, don’t care what other people think of me; not because I can’t afford to let myself care, but because I truly don’t care.
I don’t care what other people think of me, because it’s not going to change my own opinion of me.
I’ve finally made the transition from self-acceptance, to self-confidence.
I’ve never been like everyone else, and I never will be, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be just as valuable, or that my worth is any less.
These days, does everyone like me? Hell no, of course not, but here’s the thing; I don’t need everyone to like me. I just need me to truly value me. My life, it’s not about what other people think of me, it’s about what I think of me.
There is not a single person on the face of this earth that will ever influence my life, or this world, with the same impact that I will.
This is my life and I’m going to live it my way.
I’m not the smartest, or the prettiest, the funniest, or the best, I’ve just gotten to a point where I feel like I’m smart enough, pretty enough, funny enough, everything “enough,” for me.
I’m enough, FOR ME.
If I had to pinpoint where my apparent portrayal of self-confidence comes from, I would have to say that it comes in the freedom of knowing that I don’t fit in, that I don’t have to fit in, and the understanding that it’s completely OK,
I’m not you, I’ll never be like you, and that’s alright, because I’m me.
When it comes to you, people aren’t going to like you because you are just like everyone else they’ve ever met, they are going to like you because of the uniqueness that makes you, you.
So please, don’t try to be anyone else, just be you.
That’s what you were made for!
The world already has everyone else, but there is only one you.
It’s what you were made for.