Friday, March 16, 2012
I grew up in a family with 5 children, and my older sister had some major emotional issues. Being the second child, and being fairly strong-willed, I was often set aside by my parents so they could deal either with my sister throwing a tantrum or running away, or one of my younger brothers who were just little and needed more care at the time.
So I learned very early to be self-reliant. To depend on myself, solve my own problems, and care about my opinion of what I was doing, not what anyone else thought.
I was a chubby kid, but I was born cheerful and friendly - so when I was teased (very occasionally), I never seemed to care and thus I was never bullied. I had many friends, I was studious and teachers loved me, I was artistic and drew all over anything in sight (the only thing I ever got into trouble for was drawing all over the cover of my workbook). I was an introvert, but I also managed to get along with just about everybody.
Over the years, I developed the attitude that I was normal - not that I was perfect or better than anyone, just that I was normal - and so that meant that whatever I was feeling was therefore normal. And that meant I allowed myself to feel whatever I was feeling. I think this is a HUGE part of self-reliance - letting yourself feel sad when you are sad. Or lonely when you are lonely. Or depressed. Or happy and elated. Because these are all part of human life and interaction - they are NORMAL. Therefore, there is no need to suppress these feelings - let them happen, work through them, they will go away, you can move on.
And, with feeling normal and average (yeah, anyone who knows me knows that I'm not exactly average, but my normal is kind of ditzy and bright, like Gracie Allen, so I tend to forget that this isn't everyone else's normal and therefore I truly do think I'm fairly average) - anyway, feeling normal and average means my opinions count MOST - FOR ME. What someone else thinks of me isn't really my business. I don't care if someone else likes my hair, or my clothes, or my job, or my car. I LIKE my hair, my clothes, love my job, love my car. I don't need anyone else's approval. Because I already have my own approval. I rely on my own good judgment to tell me whether I'm doing something in MY way, whether or not I'm good enough. (And no, I also don't need daily affirmations, LOL - I'm not an SNL skit.)
Even 40 lbs ago (my pre-Spark life), I still felt like ME, a good person, a caring person, smart, funny, interested, involved, busy, competent. My self-worth isn't and wasn't contingent on my size. I certainly have more energy now, having lost 40 or so lbs. I definitely look better in smaller clothes. But I didn't hate myself for having gained 40 lbs when I tore out my knee and was in a leg brace for months. I didn't hate myself for getting up to size 20 or 22. Nor do I hate myself for plateauing at size 16 for a few years. Because I KNOW that I'm still ME, a good, caring, smart, funny, interested, involved, busy, competent person.
And all those years of no significant other - no honey, no sweetie, no boyfriend, no husband - well, it was lonely, but it was also okay. I have never measured my self-worth based on having a man in my life. I'd smile and tell people that I was "between men" - just like sometimes we're between jobs. Because to me, being single meant I could continue to do what I wanted, when I wanted - I could pick up and travel for a summer if I had the money and inclination. I could read in bed all Sunday if I wanted. I still had a group of friends to hang out with, to go to movies or dinner or celebrate events and holidays. And if it meant I'd have a potluck Thanksgiving in a studio apartment, well, I called every unattached person I knew and hosted a potluck dinner for 15 people on my tiny porch.
Once - just ONCE - a roommate (who really wasn't much of a friend) told me I was arrogant. Just once. No one else. I personally think it had more to do with her own insecurities than my truly being arrogant, but who knows.
So - to all of my Sparkie friends and friends-to-be - you are here, on Spark People. You are trying to make yourself the best possible you that there is. You have good judgment. You are smart. You are creative. You are friendly. You are warm, and caring, and loving. So value that within you. You don't need everyone to love you, you don't need everyone or anyone else's approval - as long as you approve of YOURSELF, deep inside, you will be all right. Truly. BELIEVE in yourself.
You can do this!!!!!!!