Finding your worth in seasons of doubt
I wish I had more confidence.
Late last night, I posted a quote by HRH Meghan Markle, The Duchess of Sussex on Instagram. In a 2014 post on her lifestyle blog, The Tig, Markle wrote this:
"You need to know that you’re enough. A mantra that has now engrained itself so deeply within me that not a day goes by without
hearing it chime in my head. That five pounds lost won’t make you happier, that more makeup won’t make you prettier, that the now
iconic saying from Jerry Maguire–'You complete me'–frankly, isn’t true. You are complete with or without a partner.
You are enough just as you are."
I posted it, closed my laptop and started getting ready for bed. The entire time, Meghan’s words rung through my head.
You are enough just as you are.
You are enough just as you are.
You are enough just as you are.
My whole life, I've been self-conscious. I've cared too much about what others think. I've spent too much time dwelling on my weight, face and current stage of life compared to everyone else. I know I’m not alone, I just wish I were one of those people who exude confidence on a daily basis.
Growing up, my mom always told me multiple times a day how much she loved me and how beautiful and talented I was. She still does. I often reply with an eye roll, side eye or "you have to say that, you're my mom." I think no matter how many times I hear it, I've ingrained the opposite so hard it my head that I can't believe it.
When Kate Winslet appeared on "Running Wild with Bear Grylls" in 2015, she shared that she was bullied as a child for her outer appearance.
“I was chubby, always had big feet, the wrong shoes, bad hair," Winslet said.
"When I grew up, I never heard positive reinforcement about body image from any female in my life. I only ever heard negatives. That's very damaging because then you're programmed as a young woman to immediately scrutinize yourself and how you look. And so I stand in front of the mirror and say to [her daughter] Mia, 'We are so lucky that we've got a shape. We're so lucky we're curvy. We're so lucky that we've got good bums.' And she'll say, 'Mummy, I know, thank God.' It's working, that thing that I've been doing. It's paying off."
To me, Kate is one of the most perfect people on the planet. I know, I know, no one is perfect, but just the idea that people like Kate who we often view as beautiful and poised have experienced self-esteem issues ... it just seems so bizarre. SHE'S KATE WINSLET! But at the same time, it lets us know we're not alone. After all, celebrities are humans, too.
P.S. If you haven't heard Pink's 2017 VMAs speech, I'm going to leave it right here for you because everyone needs to hear it. Go ahead and play it, I'll wait.
Doesn't it just make you love Pink even more? And want to give Willow a big hug?!
It breaks my heart to think we can start to feel like we're not 'enough' at such an early age. When do these negative thoughts start to surface and how do we make them stop?
I've experienced many versions of self-doubt throughout my life, whether in appearance, through demeaning comments and even while applying for jobs.
JUDGING A BOOK BY ITS COVER
Growing up, I had many different friend groups. I always felt like the “fat” friend — the one that wasn’t pretty enough or thin enough.
In elementary school, my friend's mom told my mom — are you ready for it — that my legs were too big for my body. This is cruel no matter what, but to say that about a child? That's absurdly cruel.
Every summer before school, my mom would take me shopping for new clothes. It was always fun for me ... until I reached high school. The popular teenage stores back then were Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister (Are they still popular among youth? I'm starting to feel old. OMG I used to love the music they'd play. And, of course, I always hoped I got the right color shirt at Hollister since it was always so dark in there. OK, Kassi, now you're just getting off topic). It's no secret both stores have nearly airbrushed models plastered on every wall and shopping bag. But my least favorite part? Reaching way in the back for the "bigger" sized jeans, all the while being stared down by these grayscale, "standards of perfection."
ALWAYS THE BRIDESMAID, NEVER THE BRIDE
I know most people really hated their high school experience, but I loved mine. And remember when I said I've always felt like the "fat" friend? OK, good. This is where I'm going to talk about that.
Not a single one of my high school friends ever made me feel like a less-than. None of them suggested I wear more makeup, lose weight nor did they belittle me.
But that doesn't mean I didn't instill feelings of self-doubt on myself.
Take formal and prom for instance.
Each and every year, I sat and watched as all of my friends were asked to winter formal, junior prom, you name it. I watched them get dressed up and have their date pick them up. Freshman year. Sophomore year. Junior year. Senior year. Deep down, I started to hate this time of year because it meant yet another time I wasn't going to get asked to anything. (Is this what it feels like to get picked last for dodgeball?)
Are my teeth not straight enough? Do these shoes make me look fat? Oh, gosh. Please don't tell me it's my personality. Pretty sure I'm stuck with that.
(Side note: I went to senior prom. But a couple friends of mine and I asked boys from another school so that doesn't really apply here).
COMPARISON IS THE THIEF OF JOY
When I went off to college, my self-esteem issues packed themselves into my duffle.
As a whole, I met amazing people, had great professors, learned more than I could imagine ... but I also had a few friends who made me question my self-worth and, for lack of a better word, "enough-ness."
In case you didn't know this about me already, I avoid confrontation at all costs. So if anyone ever says something rude or demeaning, I usually take it, fake a smile and change the subject. The problem with this is, when I get home, I usually dwell on it, let it eat away at me or call my mom. But hey, at least I didn't say anything and cause a scene, right?
With my friend "Mary," I noticed that any time we'd hang out, she'd take subtle digs at me. I felt like I had to be a statue because no matter what I did or said, so-and-so did it better. Maybe I'm just being too sensitive, I thought. After all, Mary and I are FRIENDS. I'm sure she's not doing it on purpose. I soon realized it wasn't a once or twice or even three-time thing — I always felt like I had to filter myself around her in order for her to keep me as a friend. (Pro-tip: People like this aren't your friends).
Now let me introduce you to "Mike." While we were never super close, we had mutual friends and ran in the same crowd. One day, I just got tired of swallowing his snide comments. In a particular situation, he talked down to me in front of our friends. Keep it together, Kassi. Keep it together. I left soon after and got in my car.
I shut the door.
And I cried.
To this day, I absolutely hate that I cried because it meant that I let him get to me. If I could go back in time, I would have said something like,
HEY, THAT'S NOT NICE.
WELL THAT'S NO WAY TO TALK TO A LADY.
STF--yeah, no. I still don't have the confidence to say that last one.
Heck, maybe adulthood would be easier.
NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK
When I was applying for jobs my senior year of college, I kept a Google spreadsheet of everything I applied to. I listed the company, position, location and whether or not I heard back. I applied to so many during that time, I'm sure I tested Google's storage limit. (Hey, Siri. Is there a storage limit on Google?) The number of jobs I've applied to between then and now is astronomical. After so many rejections, I tried changing up my cover letter. I redesigned my resume. I added clips to my portfolio. I changed up my LinkedIn. Nothing.
What was I doing wrong? Why wasn't I good enough? I met all the job requirements. Why weren't they calling? If only they could hear how much I wanted to work for th---wait, is this "self-doubt baggage" ever going away? Am I stuck with it for life? Am I ever going to feel good enough in all aspects of my life?
I started to realize that I was going to meet many Marys and Mikes in my lifetime. I do think it's important to note that neither Mary nor Mike are bad people. But while I can't control their words and actions toward me, I can control how they make me feel.
If it's one thing I've learned, it's this: There will be people that like you and people that don't. And that's OK.
Keep people in your life that lift you up. That sing your praises, not your downfalls. That root for your happiness, not your failure.
So yeah, maybe I'm feeling self-conscious today, but that doesn't mean I will tomorrow. It's perfectly normal to have days where we feel less than our best.
Because I am enough just as I am. And so are you.