Last night I sat on the edge of my bed and broke down in tears. Up until then I’d been surfing the web, reading the blogs I follow, commenting where I felt I had something to say and applauding them for winning yet another blog award or getting their 1000 follower on Twitter or getting an agent or publisher for their novels. Truly wonderful and fantastic achievements and I’m so very happy to be a part of it, knowing my writing buddies are moving forward and seeing the fruits of their labors.
So why should this make me cry?
While I was honestly thrilled for them, I was also saddened because it wasn’t me. Oh, I know this confession sounds horrible and incredibly selfish, but it’s not. It just hurts somehow, deep in the core of my being. I’m not sure where it comes from. Maybe it was because I was told all my life I’m not good enough at anything I did. I was actually told as a child that I had no personality, no one liked talking to me, no guy would ever want me, and the worst – I was completely unlovable, so much so even my own parents didn’t want me and gave me away. That one hurt. It still hurts, forty years later. Even my own kids have told me at one time or another I’ve failed them as a mom. Don’t tell me words don’t hurt. They not only hurt, but the cuts they leave behind remain forever.
Over the course of my life, I’ve allowed others to instill their beliefs about me into me, and I believed them. After all, if so many people said the same thing, then obviously they saw something I didn’t. Sadly, it’s followed me into my adulthood and it’s a struggle every day to try to find ways to believe in myself, to believe I’m good at what I do. When I see my fellow bloggers get another award or achieve some fantastic success, I’m not jealous; it’s just a knife in the chest that reiterates to me I’m not as good as them at something I love to do. Don’t get me wrong. I’m very happy for them and I don’t want something because I didn’t deserve it or because someone feels sorry for me. I want to get rewarded for hard work and perseverance. Their success, though, and my lack of it reinforces the negative thoughts: ‘you have no personality’ and ‘no one wants to talk to you.’ I am so much more a champion for others to succeed than I am for myself because it’s been beat into me that I will never succeed at anything. And yet, I keep holding on to that dream of being a great author someday. That someone, somewhere, will pick up my novel and love it so much that they read it over and over and over again until the binding falls apart, the pages are worn…even dog-eared. Somewhere in time, my novel(s) will be well loved.
So why do I let others’ success draw me down? I think it’s because their success seems to come natural for them. They just open their mouths and people listen and click ‘follow’. I’ve never had that. Never. I don’t even know how to obtain that. I’m the person who takes 2 steps forward and gets pushed 20 steps back and it’s a constant struggle to push ahead. Yet, I keep trying.
Why do I care about whether I get a blog award or if people follow my blog? All of us want to feel loved, needed and special. For someone like me who feels completely and utterly alone in a room full of people, I have to fall back on my passions, my dreams, to keep me focused. When I don’t get recognized or passed over for my hard work, I begin to doubt myself, again. I hear those negative words, ‘you’re not good enough, even at the thing you love doing…writing. I guess I need the ‘atta boys’. I need people to say “I appreciate you.” It’s sad.
So, if no one cares about what I say or what I think, then why write this blog?
I write it because I know I am not the only one out here in the blogosphere who suffers from low self-esteem, and if I talk about it and others read it, then maybe they won’t feel so alone. Maybe I can impart some wisdom, and if I can help one person with this blog, I’ll have achieved a lot.
This morning when I got up, I shot over an e-mail to a friend, expressing my sadness and my doubts as to why I continue this blog or even write. I then went for a walk to clear my head, gather my wits and give myself my everyday pep talk. What do I say to myself?
- I tell myself I am a great writer. Others just don’t know it yet because I have nothing yet to show them. But I will. It’s coming, and it will be fantastic. (I have to tell myself this several times during the day so I don’t give up).
- I set new goals. I get a clear picture in my mind of where I want to be 2 weeks from now, a month from now. It helps to stay focused.
- I decide how I will celebrate meeting my goals. It could be a movie, a new dress, maybe even chocolate. Recognizing the achievement of my goals boosts my confidence.
- I try to learn from my mistakes and not look at them as colossal failures. Very difficult for someone who’s been told ever since childhood they’re a failure (“Jen, that A- on your exam should have been an A+. Why did you mess up? Why didn’t you study?”)
- I will continue listening to others’ opinions, but I must hold true to who I am. I will not let others take any more of my heart, my spirit or my soul just to make themselves look bigger and better. There are those who want to see me succeed as much as I want to see them succeed. Surround myself with these people.
- I will give more of my time and encouragement to others. I already do this, but I must do more because it lends to gaining positive feedback and respect from others, all essential when building a better self-esteem.
- Stop comparing myself to others. I’m me. And I have a lot to offer.
- And last but not least…never, never, never give up on my dreams. They are all that I have to keep me moving forward. If I lose my dreams, I lose me. I don’t want to lose me.
And…now that I’ve managed to make everyone depressed, I will start my corned beef and cabbage and dive back into my short story (which has a rapidly approaching deadline), and my novel, which will get a publishing contract this year, come hell or high water.
What about any of you? Do you have self-esteem issues? Do you find you have to give yourself pep talks every day? I would love to hear about your personal triumphs. Please share.