Sunday, November 8, 2015

a plea for self doubt.

Fall, autumn, rain, dark clouds, and crisp air. These feed my purest me.

I've struggled with self-doubt for as long as I can remember. Sometimes when people say that, I think "really? as long as you can remember?" I mean this, truly. My self-doubt has manifested in various ways, as well as been fed by things completely uncontrolled by me.

My first struggle with body image was when I was five or six years old. I always had a little pooch for a belly and I always had a heightened awareness of the way clothes fit me. I can honestly say I don't know what it's like to have the coveted flat stomach, and probably never will. At that time my mom was grossly obese. It was heart breaking. While running errands together strangers would yell to her, "fat bitch." She struggled to breathe, ate poorly, and was often sick. One day this all changed, but that's another story. However, I learned very early on that being overweight was socially unacceptable and apparently, if you were overweight public shaming was fair game.

Most of my young childhood years I had little-to-no friends. After my dad died, my mom and I attended a very small church that took advantage of its congregates in various ways. She worked a ton, and tried to go to school while I was in the care of the church's head pastor and wife. At the time, our church most impacted my inability to be a carefree kid. I tattled on people for sinning, and I told the teacher when girls in my class were "being seductive" by putting stickers on their bottoms for attention. They were called butt-stickers from some secular country music station. Oh yeah, and I used the word "secular" constantly. Yeah, I was a weird kid who consequently had no friends and was often made fun of...perhaps I was asking for it. The thing was, I loved talking and connecting; but when you don't have friends to share your thoughts, anxieties, and hopes to, you start to live in your head. I became my own best friend, second only to my cat, Pinto Bean.

Living in your head can breed creativity or can cause a person to painfully disconnect with the world. I craved intimacy with someone, anyone--I was disconnected, but not by choice. I practiced conversations with kids in my head. The next day I'd put my plan into action, but it never went as I thought it would. So, alone in my room, I was back to plotting my first real friendship. Eventually, my mom became my primary guardian again, we left the church, and switched schools. This was it. I'd reinvent myself. These kids didn't know me, I could be whoever I wanted. I could listen secular music, and dammit I'd stop calling it secular and call it by its rightful name: hip hop.

It worked. I made my first real friend, but I never learned how to stop living in my head, or how to stop second guessing every word that came out of my mouth or every action I took. My adolescence sucked, but most peoples' adolescence sucked. It's that time when you're first sorting out the worst parts of yourself. Self doubt manifested in the aforementioned ways, but my insecurities were just on overdrive. I had severe body issues, I was convinced that no one liked me, and I spent hours in my head identifying every flaw I had and ways to amend them.

Let's fast forward to now. I am still that girl. I am woman, self doubting, and sometimes self loathing. However, now I am able to discern things that are within my control and things that are not. Yes, self doubt at its worst is truly debilitating. However, it is because of my self doubt that I have strived to become the best version of myself. And while I wish I could say that becoming my best self has been something I've done only for myself, or for my mom, or God...that's just not true. Constantly worrying about what others, what you think about me has fueled me to speak with more tact, to exercise often, and to never stop learning.

Self doubt no longer hinders or dictates my every move, but it's always whispering to me softly. With confidence I expose, "I struggle with self doubt and constantly worry about what others think of me." What's often unheard in this reveal is the strength it takes for someone, for me, to admit this. I divulge not to incite sympathy, but as a plea for understanding. Self doubt has shaped me. Mostly, it's bred a genuine concern with others' feelings, interpretations, and insecurities. I love that about myself. I'd even say self doubt blossomed into one of the best qualities I have: unending compassion.

Thus, I ask of you...
Don't deter me from self doubt, let me revel.
watch me
as I prove it wrong.

Here's a picture of me, my mom, and the pastor's wife who I called "Mama T."