Sitting in my hair stylist’s chair, deep into a conversation, she says she recently heard that we don’t see ourselves through our own eyes, we see ourselves as we think others see us. I asked her to repeat this. She said our self-perception is based on how we believe others think of us. (Turns out that’s Cooley’s Looking Glass Theory).
I’d agree. For most of my life, my self-worth has been ‘less than’ and was created from bits and pieces which I had to mind-read to gather. From my parents and from everyone I was in contact with. My views of me are then fractured. I’ve never fully seen myself. I am a crazy-quilt and my low self-esteem is the rotten thread binding this quilt.
In the past, people have told me sincerely how much they admire my talents. I would nod and smile. Not only did I not see these talents, I would duck and dodge their every attempt to move me on and improve me. I was comfortably stuck under my crazy quilt turned cloak of invisibility.
My cloak kept me safe from the expectations of others. I believed if you got too close, you’d see me the way I see me, an unworthy fake. My failures and my humanity would be unforgivable. Why would either of us want to share that ugliness. I already knew how this would all end. And so I didn’t start. I controlled what you thought by giving you nothing to think.
I wouldn’t have to show up for myself, join any groups, be accountable, or have any goals or dreams or aspirations to unveil. These were all safe as long as I remained invisible. I thought it was easier this way. But, alas, my cloak became an anchor.
The therapist named this sense of invisibility low self-esteem. I was shocked. Others, yes, but not me. After my rage subsided, my brain began to shift. I didn’t need to be fixed because I was not broken, just afraid. I began to hear my harmony when I sang. I kept writing and I kept singing. I reached out to people in far away places online through my blog. And what I let myself hear was that I was contributing something valuable to their lives. And I’ve kept on contributing and I’ve kept on reaching out. I have begun to catch clearer glimpses of my outline, my profile. And a ‘me’ that I see is materializing.
This Bold Brilliant Beautiful You project came when I most needed to cement into place the bricks of me I’ve been gathering. So here is my very revealing ‘I am’ list, February’s BBBY project homework. And thanks to this group of women, and a growing sense of self, I’m feeling better and bolder than I have in a very long time.
I AM :
• I am a doer, an enthusiast, and an energizer bunny
• I am a writer, essayist, memoirist, and humorist
• I am a wife and a mother and an individual
• I am funny, almost always smiling
• I am brutally honest, soul-searching
• I am visually fixated, detail oriented, and sloppy
• I am a closet artist knocking at the door to get out
• I am invisible and afraid of success
• I am a Virgo with a huge helping of Libra, a devoted and intentional friend
• I am a good listener, hearing what’s said and what’s not
• I find lessons in anything, everything and I am a positivity fanatic
• I have come a long way despite where I’ve been
• I am a UU, respectful of all choices
• I am from a broken family and co-dependent
• I am a great cook and a non-practicing waitress
• I am a pet lover and a plant killer
• I am looking for purpose, connection, and permission to become myself
Why is my life so important to honor now? This need to connect, to express, to create, to thrive, and to give back? Maybe it’s the baby girl I just had at the ripe age of 46 who needs me to show her that you can be your own hero despite the adversity you’ve encountered. The only way to lead is by example. Read the other ‘I am’ lists by these amazing women and to make an “I am” list for themselves. There’s a simple way to make one here, one we can do with our children and see where they stand with their self-concepts. I am practicing intentional intouchness while making these connections. Staying quiet and alone never worked so good for me and requires a lot more work than just being bold and brilliant and beautiful.
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And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.