Why is it so Hard to Believe in Yourself?
I was on an existential post lockdown ride of trying to figure out meaning in my life and decided to revamp my goals from 4 years ago. In this process I was trying to write what I am good at. And for some reason I could come up with like 2 solid things. I was appalled. Surely in 30+ years of existence I must have more than that to say I am good at?
I also realized the problem is my attitude towards myself. I am extremely self critical. While it’s good to be realistic, it does not help to be too brutal with oneself in a world where people with 2% talent are making it big because they believe they can. Leave aside propped up, created figures. There are many making waves coz they believe they are good at something. Take social media influencers – best example. Your qualifications are something that others see in you and you ride on it. It is dangerous in one way coz you can crash once that adulation is no more. But there is something of value people see in you. Somehow I find it hard to translate that to myself. Which is a problem for my self esteem in general. Coz this means I constantly doubt myself.
Where do these doubts stem from? We grow up in a world where we are constantly conditioned to be ‘humble’, ‘modest’ and ‘be like a girl’ and somehow these have translated into fear, self doubt and shyness which as an adult woman, leads to being insecure and backward. We are told to know our place, to work within our social class, caste, religion, ethnicity etc. and somehow it has created a box of sorts which you need to maneuver without treading on toes. Woe betide anyone who challenges these boxes coz then you become the ‘rebel without a cause’ or the ‘mad woman in the attic’. Each day we are reminded by some botoxed, plastic surgery model that our beauty is never good enough, that our bodies are always lacking, that we’re in constant need of fixing. This is propagated by society, religion, traditions – industries that thrive on insecurities.
On the flip side, if you are a man, there is the unrealistic expectation of a macho Alpha male who has no feelings – he runs on adrenaline and testosterone and eats nicotine for breakfast and ethanol for dinner. He can’t feel or show his feelings, and if he does he is a ‘ponnaya’, ‘pussy’ ‘wuss’. And the result of this madness is an insecure human being in constant self doubt. This is why so many end up searching for meaning in outside things including a ‘significant other’ to fill that missing void. That self esteem we lack, we seek in others. It’s a recipe for disaster and I was reminded of it while doing these goals.
I told myself, that’s it, no more of this crap. I got down to just letting go of what expectations I was supposed to have and just wrote what makes me happy as a person. I mean genuinely happy and what I know I enjoy doing. The list seemed more real then. Yes there are some inane things I am good at and some crazy dreams and that’s just fine. Coz they are mine. Not the ghost of who I am supposed to be as per society’s expectations.
So stop letting the world dictate who you need to be. Believe in who you are and who you want to be. Look in that mirror and smile and not criticize what you see. Work towards a version of yourself that makes you happy. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else really can or will. Self acceptance and love is the key.