When it comes to my appearance, I don’t think of myself like what you see when you look at the picture above. I’m often told that I “just shouldn’t worry about it” or that I don’t have anything to worry about in the first place. But like everyone, I have a pretty long list of insecurities.
It’s been said that it takes one insult to ruin 100 compliments. I’d put that ratio a little more like 1:10,000.
You may not believe me, but I am not naturally confident. I am naturally shy. It used to be crippling. Like, kids-think-I’m-weird-because-I-don’t-talk crippling. I used to physically shake I would get so nervous.
It has taken a long time for me to not just swing from one pole of shyness where I don’t share to the other pole where I talk about everything else so I don’t have to answer real questions. They are the same. It’s an easy way to hide. The latter is even easier because people assume that because you talk so much that you are being open and honest. When really, you are being neither.
How does being shy tie into self-perception?
Answer: I didn’t think that anyone cared about me. I didn’t think I was worth caring about. I didn’t think I was worth looking at. So I hid.
I’ve been told that I am ugly, stupid, over weight, and have “too much” hair.
When I was younger my biological brother told me I wasn’t pretty enough to be an actress, and I would like to think that it didn’t stick with me, but it has. All through high school my bio-dad would tell me how overweight I was because he weighed less than me when he graduated. Something tells me he wasn’t carting around DDDs and a full set of hips. But it didn’t help me not feel gross.
I asked 8 people to prom when I was in 11th grade and was turned down 8 times.
An ex-boyfriend told me once that he liked my hair better short because it was just too much when my curls were longer. He also told me that if he could change something about my body, it would be for me to have perkier breasts.
I’m not telling you all these things so that you can feel sorry for me. I’m telling you so that you can see that no matter what you think, everyone carries emotional scars about their bodies.
On the outside, I seem confident and put together, but I have buttons that deflate me quicker than a helium balloon at an elementary school birthday party. If you say anything about my skin or my weight, I’m toast.
If we could be gentler with one another and remember that we don’t know what people are bringing to the table. There is no way to tell what is really going on with someone. You don’t know if they are feeling gross about themselves that day anyway and they heard you say something to your friend about their weight. If it were you, you’d be crushed. So why do it to anyone else?
It’s crazy to me that we all need reminders to be nice. But unfortunately we do.
So let’s all agree to be nicer. If only for the selfish reason that maybe it will make people nicer to us if we’re nicer to them.
Originally published April 24, 2015 at CathyTerranova.com.
(Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mbell1975/6341466407)