What people think of me is critical. Often, I use the opinions of others as a barometer to know how I am doing in the world. I believe that someone who is not living inside my crazy brain must certainly have a more balanced objective perspective about who I am as a person than I do. It is hard to be objective about things that are really close, for me that includes my personality. The sentiment of “not knowing myself” is also stemmed from insecurity. There is comfort in knowing that someone else thinks I am valuable because it is more concrete than my own opinion. I often think of self-assuredness as variable and elusive because it rides on the sea of my emotions. I resign to accept that to be “self-assured,” someone else must first permit me.
Being valuable is important. The drive to secure that value pushes me to conform to social and cultural expectations.
In the story I shared yesterday, I threw myself under the bus so that I could hold on to the illusion of value that came from having a boyfriend. In my mind, having a boyfriend in high school was an example of mattering enough that someone else wanted to spend time with me. I would have been fine to go to the dance with just my friends. I held myself in my own prison because I was afraid to see myself as an individual. Down deep, one part of me knew exactly who I was apart from the relationship with my boyfriend. The real me was the one in war paint ready to dance the night away to loud, raucous music. That lively spirited girl was held captive inside an insecure teenager who wanted approval and to be valued.
Why do I care so much what other people think of me?
Disapproval and rejection driven by fear, motivate me to change myself based on the thoughts and opinions of others. The rational part of my brain, the part that is raising a daughter, knows that it is crazy to think that my value comes from other people. Anger comes when I think about how I give the power away to someone else when it really belongs to me. No one else should be ascribing value to my life more than me. I am my greatest ally, and I have to be in my own corner. When I am too worried about what others think; about whether they will accept me, I bind my own hands, incapacitating my ability to stand up for myself.
The power is in my hands. It depends on no one else but me to define what is genuine about my character.
Socrates gave great advice when he said: “Know Thyself.” I say that is not enough. I must go one step further and have the courage to live out what I know.