Monday, June 3, 2019

What I Like About Myself


I initially sat down to write about how I’ve been dealing with a lot of shame-based stress for the past few weeks. I can’t seem to shake it, no matter how many tactics I employ. But I couldn’t find the words to articulate exactly how I’m feeling.

Frustrated, I left my computer and walked my dog while listening to Conan O’Brien’s most recent podcast episode with Hannah Gatsby. They talked about self-deprecation, which she deals with in her Netflix comedy special that is amazing if you haven’t seen it! Conan said that his self-deprecation started when he was a kid and he has grown past all those insecurities and become who he is today, but he still falls back on that childhood habit of hating himself.  

I feel you, Conan. I feel you. 

Self-deprecation is a habit that started when I was a kid, ashamed of who I was. But I grew up… and accomplished A LOT of things. And yet, that childhood habit is still sticking around. No matter what I do, no matter who I am… I’m not good enough.  Or, at the very least, I don't want anyone to think that think I'm good enough!

When I got back and sat down to write again, I just felt exhausted. I’m so tired of writing about my mental illness. I’m tired of writing out thoughts about shame in an attempt to free myself from it or make excuses for it. What I need to do is start practicing a new habit: self-affirmation instead of self-deprecation.  

So, today, I’m doing something crazy and writing the things I like and appreciate about myself. In an attempt to free myself from constant shame and find humor in something other than my own inadequacies, I'm folding in this new habit.

It was really fucking hard, and I wanted to add SO MANY disclaimers. But I didn’t. Well, I did… but then I deleted them. Some of them. 

So, ahem, here goes nothing. 

*** 

I like... 

- My resilience and that I prefer to not consider myself a victim, or be cynical. It makes me more forgiving and assume good intentions.

- My toned legs that make me feel confident in skirts, dresses, and jeans. Just not shorts. Never shorts.

- That I am funny and quick-witted.

- That my body is curvy and proportionate. Even when I don’t like it, I’m grateful for its shape! My childhood dance instructor told me I was chubby but proportionate. So, at least I’ve got that going for me! (Proof: A disclaimer that I let slip.)

- That I’m creative and curious. I'm not afraid to try or learn something new.

- My ability to make friends and deep connections anywhere through sharing stories, being vulnerable and being empathetic.

- My hard work ethic, and ability to always go above and beyond even when there’s no reward other than it being done or having made someone else’s life easier.

- That I am hopeful, optimistic and persistent, even when things look dire and all signs are pointing to it not being true or not working out.

- That I moved across the country and gained major perspective about adapting and what I want from life. As a natural homebody, who couldn’t even stay the whole night through a sleepover as a kid, the fact that somewhere else in the world feels like “home” is incredible.

- That I have maintained my most important friendships throughout my whole life. Having people in your life in your 30’s that you met when you were in elementary school and high school is really special.

- That I always follow my heart. 

- Seeking joy wherever I go and ensuring other people are having a good time too.

- That creating a sense of community is important to me. I prioritize making people feel as though they belong and that they are seen and heard.

- That I'm an old soul. 

- That I have bad eyesight, because my glasses really suit my face.

*** 

Now that that's over. 

Self-deprecation has a time and place, and I likely won't eradicate it from my life or my "routine." But, it's a nasty habit. I need to decipher the difference between playful self-deprecation (I'm Irish Catholic, so I aim to please!) and shameful self-deprecation (I'm a disgusting trash monster.)

When it's coming from a place of genuine belief, then I need to reframe the thought. For example, I am not a disgusting trash monster. I am a cute trash monster! Like Oscar the Grouch, except with more fur and fewer friends.

Yeah, this is going to be a long process. 

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