I grew up with a skewed perspective of myself.
During my teens and 20s, trying to escape my own head was akin to trying to escape a fire with no exit sign — near impossible. I naively allowed everyone’s negative opinions of me and my life to become the truth until I had a mind-shift in my 30s. In a world where self-esteem is at an all-time low and judgment is at an all-time high, I have finally developed the ability to see myself through someone else’s eyes.
Have you ever tried to see yourself through someone else’s eyes? Have you ever tried to strip yourself of all the world and just be? I’ve arrived here in my 30s, but it hasn’t always been this easy and some days, it’s hard to stay here.
For as long as I can remember, people judged the size of my body. When my body was thinner, they adored it. When my body was larger, many criticized it. I saw myself through those critical lenses. I saw myself as someone too big to be in pictures, to go places, to date, and to be worthy. I still have the fear of meeting people terrified that they’ll think I’m too big. I fight it every day. I remind myself that I am no different than the rest when it comes to being a worthy human being.
Body size was not the only aspect of myself that I saw through critical eyes. As a writer, I never thought I was good enough. I thought I was good compared to non-writers, but I never thought I fell under the category of an actual writer. I went two years stopping people from calling me a writer. I would even say to them, “I don’t call myself a writer. I just tell stories,” despite having interviews with A-List celebrities published.
This takes me back to a person who used to proofread my stories. I’ll be the first to admit that I struggle with grammar. This person said to me, “How can you be a writer if you struggle with grammar?” Yet another criticism that I allowed to keep me down. I was certain that I wasn’t a good enough writer. I’ve learned to tighten my circle since.
A family member once told me that if my father loved me enough he would have never chosen drugs over me. Yet another comment that I allowed to control my feelings.
For years and years, I waged the war of allowing others to define how I saw myself until I reached my breaking point.
Do I have days when I still allow others to get me down? Absolutely. I’m not a pro at high self-esteem, but I work at it. Back then, I never used to see myself through the positivity that surrounded me, only the negativity. Today, I’m able to jump out of the negative pool rather quickly and repeat words of affirmation from others and the ones I create for myself. I am able to be my own cheerleader with the help of a team.
I’ve learned a lot in my three-plus decades. One golden nugget being that people will spend a lot of time breaking you down because they don’t feel content with themselves. It’s more about them than it will ever be about you. I take myself for example; I could never say half of the things to people that have been said to me. I’m not a saint, but my days are not filled with trying to bring out the insecurities of others. I’d rather help people find their shine than keep their spirits dim because there is light at the end of the tunnel.
When I ditched the criticism that I allowed to shape my own perspective and I saw myself through someone else’s eyes: the cheerleaders, the supporters, the believers, the ones who see in me what I never saw in myself, I became so much stronger.
I replay the compliments and conversations of those who told me I was enough and brick by brick my self-esteem becomes higher and I see myself how the world sees me. I believe that I can be the good writer that they say I am. I believe I can be beautiful regardless of size. I believe I can land that job just like the others. I believe that I can and I will.
See, if you start to pay attention to something for long enough, you will start to believe it. If you pay attention to the negative, it will come to fruition. If you pay attention to the positive, it too will come to fruition. This is why it is critical to build others up as much as possible. We are all responsible for shaping the confidence of others. It won’t hurt you to bring out someone else’s best attribute. Perhaps, they don’t see the potential that you see in them. The way you praise another person may be the difference between that person having a good day or a bad day.