Thinking back to 31 years ago when I was very young and naïve. How I wish I could go back in time and tell that young girl that she is enough, worthy, beautiful and have so much ambition. Having no idea how to snip it; I was once controlled by the puppet strings of external validation.
Ridiculed about my race, my background and my appearances (skinny, tall, flat nose and an array of other names); my self-esteem took a knock from a young age. There is absolutely no truth in the saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. Those words hurt and it left scars. I never valued myself or thought that I was good enough or beautiful. I was greatly affected by what people said to me or thought of me. It became my truth as I murmured many uncaring words to myself whilst staring in the mirror.
I was shy and quiet – an introvert. At school I became an overachiever forcing myself to succeed, achieve and perfect. I had no personal boundaries and would say yes for everything. I didn’t know that the power of no existed. My self-worth was based on people-pleasing. I relied heavily on the opinions and encouragement of others; seeking validation from my parents, teachers and friends that I am competent, capable and good enough.
In my early 20’s I came out of my shell a little bit but the self-doubt continued. It consumed every aspect of my life. Not only when I transitioned into adulthood but being an undergraduate at university, hanging out with friends, being in a relationship and applying for my first job. I would question everything – am I being responsible, am I intelligent enough, what if I fail, do I fit in, am I liked, what will they think of me when I say no, does he think I am beautiful, why didn’t he call me, is he really interested in me, did I do a good job, do they think I did a good job, what if I mess up?
The inner critic never left me. I lacked self-confidence, compared myself to others and constantly strived for external validation and acceptance. Receiving that validation made me feel secure and gave me a sense of belonging. If I didn’t receive it; my ego would be bruised, leaving me feeling rejected. Causing an even harder blow to my self-esteem.
It was only during Brent and I’s premarital counselling sessions when it came to light. We had to address issues that could affect our relationship negatively. Because ultimately you can’t pour into a marriage, with an empty cup. These sessions helped me to practice self-compassion and self-care. It was a process that I worked hard at every single day. It enabled me to stop being reliant on external validation and to slowly snip the puppet strings that controlled me. Today I control the strings as my values and beliefs matter the most. I don’t have to pretend as I know that I am enough.
So today let me be that voice of reason that says stop trying to measure up. Stop second guessing yourself. You are enough – yes I know it’s a cliché but you are truly enough. Don’t try to change aspects of who you are just to fit in. Don’t showcase yourself to please others. We all strive to put the best version of ourselves out there but remember comparison is the thief of joy. Focus on what you have, your abilities and your achievements.
Yes people will always have opinions about you but don’t let that become your truth. Don’t beat yourself up and tell that inner critic to take a hike. It is ok to fail, not to be liked by everyone, to go through stuff, to get angry, to be crazy and to be loud. Be kind to yourself. Internalize it and take up your space because you are worthy, enough, capable and beautiful. You are in control so snip the puppet strings of external validation that dictates you.