Loving Your Inner Self

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Reader Parsley P left a comment a while back that seemed a bit too broad in scope for a comment-back response. So I asked her to drop me an e-mail, which she kindly did. Here’s what she wrote:

A lot of times when people talk about self-love, they mean bodily self-love. I agree that’s important, but it’s also important to like yourself in a more intangible sense. The best word I could come up with to describe that was “personality.” I think I overstated myself in my comment this morning (too little sleep) because I don’t mean to say I hate my personality or who I am. That isn’t true on a day-to-day basis. But sometimes I am overwhelmed by these moments where I feel like everyone is kinder, braver, more confident, and more socially adept than I am. I’m sure this isn’t true and I know logically that it can’t be. I’m also sure this isn’t a problem unique to me. Since I think of personality as easier to change than body image, sometimes I feel pressure to become perfect in a non-physical way. I really want to become secure in myself, but wanting that so badly makes me MORE insecure on the outside. Does that make sense?

Part of the problem is that our culture conditions women to think they’re not good enough. But I don’t ever want to think I’m not good enough! I guess another way to put it would be, I want tips on how to toughen up and be SUPER confident!

Just to clarify, I don’t want to give the impression that I am deeply unhappy with myself or that I am in a really bad spot. I consider myself a happy and outgoing person. But I thought by throwing this question out there I could see if other women ever felt the same way.

Although I generally try to limit my advice to matters of style and body image, I felt like this question hit right at the heart of self-image. And I know a little bit about that, too. I’m going to post here what I sent to Parsley, mostly unedited.

* * * * *

OK, so. On first read, I thought that you and I were opposites. I have always hated my exterior, but worshiped my brain, strength, sense of humor, talent, personality. I wanted to just be a brain in a jar for YEARS before I started exploring personal style, and that finally provided me a link between mind and body. So the blog focuses on feeling better about your body by learning to love and respect it, flatter and pamper it.

But as I read more carefully through your explanation, I realize that we are actually quite alike. At least, I think we are based on my interpretation.

It sounds like a lot of what you’re feeling is based not on how you feel about your essential self, but how you feel when you compare yourself to other people. And although those comparisons are generally more hurtful than helpful, they’re also quite natural and very hard to avoid. So don’t beat yourself up about that.

Additionally, it’s well nigh impossible to compare your achievements to the achievements of others and NOT feel like you’re lagging behind … unless you’re Marissa Mayer and already on top of the world. When you see people whose kindness, humor, and bravery you admire and wish to emulate, you’ll feel like you’re falling short there, too. And if you’re at a party and everyone else seems like they’re casually floating from conversation to conversation while you cling to the appetizer table for dear life, you’ll naturally feel like you’re simply not up to snuff.

However, bear in mind that everyone – including those you admire – has shortcomings, faults, and things they absolutely suck at. Your kind and generous coworker might be scatterbrained, a terrible cook, or completely tone-deaf. Your incredibly successful former roommate might be lonely, keep crashing her car, or have chronic bad breath. Your socially-adept cousin might be stuck in a dead-end job, covered in body hair from neck to toe and miserable about it, allergic to foods she used to love, or unreasonably afraid of heights. No one is perfect. That phrase became a cliché because it’s absolutely true. And there are undoubtedly areas in which YOU excel and THEY lag behind. Bearing this in mind may help their talents and skills seem less overwhelming to you. If you’re going to compare, compare both ways … and be as holistic as possible. I’m not advising you to intentionally find fault in people that you respect! Just remember that they are flawed and human, and that is a good thing.

Also, what you’re focusing on is what these folks are best at. People that you admire for particular traits or abilities or achievements earn your admiration by being utterly awesome at that one thing. And, in fact, they deserve your admiration for their awesomeness, and there’s nothing wrong with yearning to be more like them in that one respect. The question you should ask yourself is this: If you aren’t like them naturally, should you try to make yourself more like them against your organic personality?

If you feel strongly enough about shifting yourself toward a certain action, trait, or goal, do some writing about it. Start with these questions:

  • Why do you want to be this way?
  • What do you see this other person doing – concrete actions, phrases, achievements – that lead you to believe she excels at it?
  • Why don’t those things come NATURALLY to you?
  • Do you think you could train yourself to do them?
  • How?
  • Is it worth it to do so? Why?
  • At what point will you feel like you’ve achieved your goal, and changed yourself? (Important! Give yourself an end point.)

It sounds pretty nebulous, but it will work if you create a plan that suits your personality and stick to it. Human beings have an almost infinite capacity to adapt and change, especially when we truly want to.

As for toughening up and tips on being super confident … well, I don’t have any. There’s no cheat-sheet for this one, unfortunately. Confidence is as personal as style, and everyone must find her own path to it.

Finally, you need to cut yourself some slack, doll. I have had friends, family members, my husband, and several therapists drill that into me about my own self-evaluation, and I still struggle with it … but it might be my most important life lesson. You are an amazing human being. I have never met you and know virtually nothing about you, but I can tell you that with TOTAL CONFIDENCE because growing up in this world, forming an identity in the face of modern life, being self-aware enough to even contemplate this question, and being curious enough to throw it outside of yourself … those things alone make you amazing. And that’s just the generalities. You’ll know the specifics of your own amazingness.

Each person’s path is different, and each person has different needs, goals, and capacities. If you ask me, the only thing in life that really matters is happiness. And what makes you happy will not make me happy, or make my friend Barbara happy, or make my boss happy, or make my mom happy. And that’s just fine. You don’t have to be the CEO of something, or a Church volunteer, or a social butterfly to be happy. In fact, those things might make you miserable! Focus on your essential self – the things that you consider to be your talents, skills, achievements, pleasures, and goals. Define yourself by those things.

Focus on what you possess instead of what you lack. I cannot dance to save my life. I absolutely FREAK OUT at parties, and get equally weird on the phone with strangers. I can’t hide my emotions at all, and it has gotten me into trouble time and time again. I can’t watch the news because it depresses the fuck out of me, and am therefore a dolt when it comes to current affairs. And I suck at giving gifts. But I don’t really care because I am an incredible writer, an amazing singer, a fantastic friend, a beloved wife, and a valuable coworker. I can befriend virtually any animal, including the feral. I can read Tarot cards. I can ride my one-speed bike for at least 30 miles before I start to get tired. I can get A’s in Faulkner and animal physiology … in the same semester, if necessary. I can teach myself how to do animations in PowerPoint, how to make addictive guacamole, and how to apply mascara. I am funny and strong and smart and brave and talented and passionate. And it is THESE things upon which I define myself, and base my self-worth.

Yes, it’s a little white-light-touchy-feely … but you can choose to see yourself through the lens of your strengths. And when you do, those doubts should begin to fall away. Slowly but surely.

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  • ShopKim

    I used to spend a lot of time comparing myself to others. A lot. Eventually though, I just got tired and bored of doing that. Comparing myself to others only made me sad and didn't change a damn thing. There was no a-ha moment, but as the years went on I just started making my own choices and working on what I wanted to be better at. I still use other people as examples of what I would like to be good at, but I'm starting to listen to myself more about what it is I want to be better at – what's going to make me happy. Sure, I would still love to have flat abs and ridiculously long legs, but not gonna happen. I would love to be a natural chef, a brilliant mind and actually enjoy housework. But it's not who I am. So I can learn to do those things better because if I haven't been born with it yet, I'm thinking it's not going to happen. So a few years ago I pick one thing a year that I'm really going to focus on. I write it down at the beginning of the year and that's what I stick to. Since then I've drastically improved my finances, become a better friend and started making jewelry. All things that help me be more of whom I want to be. My advice would be to just take one thing at a time and work on it. Follow your gut and you won't go wrong!

  • La Historiadora de Moda

    Hmmmm. Right now I'm on the academic job market, and I definitely feel this way. I've tried to do everything right as a grad student in my field — I've received major grants, I have an article under review for publication at a journal, I am adjuncting at a prestigious liberal arts college, I've networked, I've gone to conferences, but so far no one wants to interview me. I know that positions are receiving hundreds of applicants, but it still makes me feel like somehow I'm a loser.

  • Sunny

    Offtopic, and I don't know if you like her or not, but if so, you might be interested in http://firstguns.tumblr.com/

    its a blog written from the viewpoint of Michelle Obama's arms! As someone that loves my ars, and I know you love yours, I thought it was funny =]

  • Faith J.

    I think it's part of human nature to compare oneself to others. How I avoid the negativity trap is by not focusing on myself, but how I can serve others and God. Don't neglect what is spiritual within you, you have great worth and you CAN love your inner self! I hope this helps!

  • Anna

    This is really, really hard for those of us in academic fields. As a teacher, I always wonder if I'm even approaching my subject in the "right" way, if it seems like I know what I'm talking about, if some other teacher is doing it better. It's hard to feel confident when you're putting yourself and your knowledge/understanding out there. So when I start to feel down, I remind myself of the reasons I chose to approach said topic in said manner: does that make it easier for my students to understand? Is it because it's a new and different way of looking at the material? Is it because I am aware of the way I like to learn? And I try to remind myself that the things that make me interesting and different from other teachers are ok, and that those same things will make my lessons different from other lessons. And that's ok too.

  • Denise

    Not too long ago it dawned on me that the only thing I have control over is how I want to be in the world, and who I want to be. And the trick here is this: how I am in the world is not dependent on others' perceptions of me. If I want to be more charitable, I can. That doesn't mean that others will recognize that I am more charitable. I only have control over how I want to be in the world, not how I am seen or judged.

    This was very enlightening for me, and freeing at the same time. I learned a long time ago that comparisons are enormous time and energy wasters. But to know that you can be kind, or happy, or content, or compassionate, and that you can choose these things, has been really helpful to me. I'm not saying it's easy, and believe me, I'm no Pollyanna. I complain more than anyone I know (I blame it on genes: my dad is the original Grinch!) but being who you want to be in the world is a daily practice. And though I'm not a religious person, I agree with Faith J. that focusing on your spiritual life may help.

    The last thing I want to say is that yearning towards beauty is part of being human. Don't contaminate this natural desire with comparisons of beauty. There is so much beauty in the world for us. We are filled with it, and surrounded by it.

  • Audi

    Working with literally hundreds of people who I'd consider to be geniuses, the sort of people who do integral calculus for fun, definitely gives me moments of self doubt. Not that I don't think I'm smart, but there are certainly moments when it seems like everyone else is smarter. It's one of the many reasons I put so much focus on the outer me — it gives that little boost to the inner me, especially on days when I have to give a presentation to a room full of my brilliant coworkers or put my ideas out there at a meeting. And when some science savant stops me in the hall to gush about how much she loves my outfit, I feel like we're really not so different after all.

  • bekster

    There are certain parts of town or other settings/establishments that I perceive to be "nicer" than others, and I often get a feeling in those places that I "don't belong," like I am just faking being "good enough" or "rich enough" to fit in there. In those places the people drive nicer cars, wear nicer clothes, are always super-thin, and have perfect hair. At least, that's what I see through my self-conscious lenses. I feel that at any moment they will mark me as a poser, and I will lose any hope of being taken seriously. Probably, though, they are just as self-conscious as I am, and if they really are judgmental enough to think less of me, then shame on them.

    I think the trick is not to try to look and act just like them but to make sure that I am very honest about myself. I should dress the way I want to dress and give an accurate account of myself. The problem is that many times I don't like the way I am dressed, my car is too old and dirty for my own taste, and I can be socially awkward even around people of my own "level." (Yes, I know it's ridiculous to think of people in terms of levels, but as a human it's hard not to.) Ideally, we would all go out the door in something that is really "us," and we would meet the world with smiles on our faces. The truth is that that can't happen all the time. Sometimes we're tired, sick, or just having a low-blood-sugar moment, and we don't have the energy to be our best and brightest selves. Maybe we have an outfit we really want to wear, but the dryer didn't dry it in time. Maybe we just drove our car through the mud and didn't get a chance to wash it yet. Maybe we're just having a bad hair day. There are all sorts of things that keep us from showing the world the person we really want to show, and if we have to be around people that we think are "better" than us anyway, it's even worse.

    I'm not sure what the solution is, but there has to be some way to let the beautiful person inside shine through even when the outside is having trouble.

  • Rebecca

    You have said so much, so well. Your compassion and insight in crafting this response is amazing.

    I confess I didn't read it line for line, word by word. But I speed read thoroughly enough to recognize your empathy and depth of character.

    It matches and balances the outward "image" that you project.

  • StarvingWriteNow

    My advice would be to stop thinking in terms of "enough". Enough, while defined as sufficient, implies otherwise. Enough is that dark little cloud of "no" hanging over a world of "yes." Send "Enough" packing.

  • Melissa Blake

    After reading that, I feel like you read my diaries for the last 4 years! I've struggled with loving the person I am on the inside, probably more so than some people because of my physical disability. It's been a long journey, but most definitely an enlightening one.

    Great post! xoxo

  • Chelsea

    Parsley's email to you really resonated with me, and I commend her on bringing up this topic! While to me being confident about my appearance has started to come more easily, I continue to struggle with comparing myself to others and focusing on my faults instead of my strengths. I am going to use your example and take a shot at writing down my shortcomings (if I put them out there, maybe they'll seem smaller?) and then write about my strengths. If I can compare those two groups of traits, then maybe it'll be clearer to me why my personality ROCKS and trumps the shit I suck at 🙂

  • Rosie Unknown

    I used to feel like that a lot, because it seemed like the things I could do didn`t matter. But they do.

  • kristophine

    Therapy. I'm a lifelong over-sensitive, over-achieving, self-hating stereotype. I work at a university, so I'm surrounded by people smarter, prettier, and better at everything than I am.

    Luckily for me, my field is research Psychology, which means that I've had seven years of training now in the counter-productivity of stigmatizing therapy. The stigma is still there, but it gets weaker every year. People are starting to realize–thanks in large part to the efforts of pharmaceutical companies, which, I'll admit, is a bit of a sensitive topic–that mental illness is not a moral failing or a personal weakness; it is, more often than not, much more often than not, a fixable problem. The commonest kind of mental illness, mood disorders, is also the most likely to be helped by therapy and medication.

    I'm biased, obviously. I'm in the field and, beyond that, I'm a hardcore mind-is-what-brain-does theorist. Brains are amazing, performing terabytes of calculations constantly, so delicately calibrated that something as small as skipping lunch can have a serious negative impact on their functioning.

    But I'm also somebody with a mood disorder and anxiety comorbid with OCD–a pretty common cluster of morbidity–who was helped, immensely, by therapy, once in high school and another round in college. Without my therapists, I don't think I would be functional today. I still have bad days, where I sit in a dark room and cry and think about killing myself because I'm a horrible person and no one likes me, but it's easier for me to let go of that, to let it pass and to accept that the feeling is a reflection of a transient mental state, not an underlying universal truth.

    Therapists can do a lot of things that the client can't, because the client is always, always, always too close to the problem to see the way out. It's conflict of interest at an internal level. It takes a doctoral-level psychologist eight to twelve years to learn how to do what they do, and we've come a long way since Freud; now most people function significantly better after thirty to forty sessions, where Freud's therapy would take years and produce no measurable results.

    I wish therapy was accessible to everyone who could benefit from it. Unfortunately, it's often expensive and not covered by insurance providers. I was lucky enough to get it for free, and it helped me stop worrying and learn to love myself.

  • Annie

    Two things:

    1) I found that to fully accept myself, I had to accept the negative parts of my personality right along with the positive parts.

    This was important because if I wasn't willing to recognize them, I couldn't change them; it was also important because I know it's not possible to be perfect personality-wise or body-wise (in other words, there is negative stuff about my personality that I probably won't be able to change, much like I can't change my height or shoe size), so I had to accept myself, lumps and all.

    Once I did that, once I gave myself some space and treated myself with patience, love and acceptance in a nonjudgmental way like I try to treat all the people in my life, I relaxed and became more self-assured.

    2) Comparing myself to other people is something I'll probably always do on some level but I try to make it positive. Instead of wishing I could *be* someone else, I try to key into what it is about that person I admire/like and figure out how I might emulate it in some way. I remind myself that the grass only *looks* greener on the other side because I'm looking at it from a distance, and if I actually got over there, I'd notice the weeds too, so I might as well stick with my own yard.

  • Anuja

    My sense of inferiority is, like you're discussing, related to my accomplishments (or, as I have a habit of thinking, lack thereof). I'm SO THRILLED you discussed this – so many times, when we talk about a woman's insecurity, we think about weight or hair or appearance.

  • a cat of impossible colour

    This is a great post, but I just stopped by (we're leaving this morning!) to say that the harem pants have indeed made an appearance:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/acatofimpossiblecolour/3985242992/

    🙂

    A xx

  • Alilson

    I absolutely second what Rebecca said.

    Your kindness, compassion and the willingness to spend so much time crafting a response to a relative stranger speaks volumes to who you are as a person, Sweet Sal.

    I'm happy to be a loyal minion! 🙂

    You are cool…like really cool.

  • Cedar

    While I like my personality, I always feel like I don't have the experiences I want, like I wasted a lot of my life with very little to show for it. I'm still young, but I've lost a lot of time already. Without going into a ton of detail, after college, I threw myself into work, convinced that I knew what I wanted to be doing, and I knew how to get there. But I never actually worked a job I liked–it was always stuff that might lead to something better, or might help me meet someone. I didn't make a lot of money, and I didn't excel in any of these positions. I also sacrificed a lot for these positions–I canceled trips abroad, I didn't see my family on holidays.

    Long story short–I realized how miserable I was, and quit the last job. I started going back to school this year. I'm getting a second undergrad degree, and am def. the oldest person in my classes. And I just feel OLD. But not only do I feel old, but I feel boring. I didn't travel. I don't have children. I don't have money. I don't have wild, fun experiences to at least explain what I've done for the past ten years.

    I'm afraid that once you scratch the surface, there's not a whole hell of a lot to me because I don't have any experiences that make me up.

  • Sara

    Throughout my life, I have wished I could have been so many things I'm not – a ballerina, a figure skater, an Olympian gymnast, an archaeologist. I have compared myself to other people, wished I had their lives and talents, began down the road of "If only…"

    In those moments, though, I only imagine the best parts of those professions or people; I don't immediately think about the bleeding toes, the broken limbs, the constant worry about every single pound (how do ballerinas do it?), the no-time-for-friends, the spending a month or a year away from family in the middle of the ocean looking for shipwrecks (I just saw a documentary on Dr. Ballard, which made me wish I'd found the Titanic).

    I snap out of it when I remember the things that I love about my life that I can do and have because of who I chose to be and what I chose to do. Once I remember that, I can be inspired by the things those people do, by their passion and energy. It helps me, too, to talk with more conviction about what it is I do, which, in turn, makes me more certain that I'm exactly where I need to be right now.

    Goodness, I love this post!

  • lisa

    I struggle with this too sometimes, comparing myself to others unfavourably and berating myself in my head for falling short. One of my coworkers said to me once that for every person you envy, someone else is probably envying you. Her comment prompted me to think about the things I envy about other people, and the good things in my life that other people might see, and then to better appreciate those good things.

  • Julie Parker

    A great response!

    Above all be kind to yourself. From this loving feelings have a much better chance to flow.

  • Karin

    Just yesterday I wrote a blog post about how I, and I think most of the people I see, seem to feel the need to live up to all kinds of expectations. Unrealistic expectations. Not only from others, but mostly from theirselves. Such a shame. We set ourselves up for failure, instead of treasuring our successes.

  • issa

    ah i love coming to read these types of posts.. it reminds me on how i should really see myself.. stop being so negative..

    but the grass is always greener on the other side..

  • Anonymous

    This post made me think of this article I first saw a couple months ago, which hit really close to home for me

    http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/the_way_we_live/article5838347.ece

    And it's like, I'm not even the kind of person who set a whole bunch of goals for myself when I was younger–grad school by 26! Baby by 28! And I'm not even comparing myself to individual people that I know, really–I'm just comparing myself against SOMETHING but I'm not sure what it is. Maybe I'm competing with myself, and feeling like I've accomplished so little.

    Is this a gender thing? Whenever I try to talk to my husband about feeling like a loser, feeling like I've accomplished nothing, he really seems flabbergasted.

  • Parsley

    Sal, I loved this email so much when I got it and I love it anew reading it now. As you promised I would be, I'm really struck by the generosity of advice by the commenters, too. It's comforting to know we all struggle with the same things, that our own experiences are valid and shared. Trying to develop confidence and self-love is hard, but at least we are doing it together. Thank you again for your amazing empathy!

  • Icy @ Individual Chic

    Wow, what an important post.

    For me, this feeling of insecurity was always base around what other people thought of me; colleagues, strangers, people on the bus, anyone.

    In the end, I started saying to myself "I don't care what they think, their opinion is not important" and you know what? It worked.

    I'm OK at parties now, or with strangers, or at work functions, because what they think about me (or what I imagine they think about me), how I look or who I am, isn't important. What I think about how I look and who I am is important.

    I'd just like to add that I wish I knew this in highschool and uni as well.

  • adressandabike

    Thank you Sal for writing this. When I read this earlier today, I just felt that it described me down to a tee. I continually feel inferior to others and as if I am not enough- good enough, kind enough, smart enough and so on… The number one thing that bugs me is that I never feel interesting enough!

    Thank you for your advice!

    I think that for myself I do need to do many more things. The not being interesting enough feeling does genuinely stem from being way too busy and then being way too lazy when I do get some downtime. However there are some aspects of my personality that are interesting enough: I love fashion, I have a degree and am doing further study in politics (however that brings its own emotional minefield with it), I have read more novels than most English lit undergrads have… but I don't actively participate in activities which society sees as interesting or cool. My physical activities include mountain biking, paintballing and hiking- hobbies which are seen as being a bit anorak! Of course, I need to do these more often for the interesting part of my personality to feel fulfilled.

    However all my other comparison worries are completely and utterly irrational but I still have them. I can deal with them though, thankfully!

  • fleur_delicious

    hiya Parsley – saw you wrote below, but I hope you'll still check back. I think Sal's hit it on the head with cutting yourself some slack. It's a hard thing for me, too – and for a lot of really talented, smart, driven people that I know – but until you cut yourself some slack, how can you ever accept yourself? It's the first big step.

    I also believe that you can change yourself. Somewhere in the teenage years, I got caught up in the romance of moody broodiness, and the tragic was just so forlorn and sexy. So for many years, I was depressed and tragic and dark. Which is ridiculous!! Oh, mistaken youth! I was so silly! Somewhere between reading Thich Nhat Hanh at 19 and the Dalai Lama at 21 (I highly recommend both!), I started to realize that happiness could be a choice, that I could choose to be happy instead of sad. I think it was "The Art of Happiness" that did it, actually.

    And not to get all Hallmark-special on you, but about 7 years ago my mother was diagnosed with an incurable autoimmune disorder. It's been seven years of never knowing how much longer you have, of things getting worse … and worse … and worse. I hate this, I hate watching this happen to her, and I believe she deserved a better, longer fuller life. It's awful to face a loved one's mortality (and your own – the disorder is genetically linked, and my brother and I won't know if we've inherited it until we're older). I can't change my essential personality, but I can change my perspective – and maybe the one does affect the other, you know? Which isn't to say that I don't have bad days, that I don't hate getting up in the cold and dark, that I'm not grumpy because it's the end of the quarter and I'm stressed and burnt out. But I do think you can make a choice. For me, I realized that I wanted to choose happiness. And it's made such a huge difference in my life – and for me, the process has started with, as Sal suggests, cutting myself some slack: acknowledging my faults and strengths, and becoming okay with that alchemy that is me. I don't have an end-goal, as Sal suggests, which means the work is not ever done, but I do feel like I am happier, as a person, every day.

  • Dylana

    This is such a ;ovely blog!

    colormenana.blogspot.com

  • skapamusik

    It is easy to let self-doubt take control, I think. But I also believe that sometimes we don't know how we are percieved.

    I had coffee with a friend a few days ago and the topic of "mingling" came up. I have to do it sometimes for work but I really don't like it – to her surprise. She told me that when we worked together I was considerd "a pro" at mingling. And sure, I talked to a lot of people but I was terrfied inside. I didn't know that I was percived as someone who was good at it and liked it.

    After hearing this, I'm thinking we should all cut ourselves some slack. We're all worthy of good things and great just as the persons we were born as. And yes, sometimes we screw up, feel embaressed or like like others are better than us but then it's good to remember, I think, that this happens to pretty much everyone.

  • Casey

    I swear, Sal, you must have a hidden window into my life to know exactly when to post things like this! This whole issue of comparing myself to others abilities/personalities hit hard this week. I guess it's because I'm already stressed over holiday stuff, and one stress just leads to another in my little world. 😉 lol. One thing I've been doing when I feel down about myself, and that I'm somehow not "good enough" (though to who's standards, I'm not sure! ;), is to actually tell myself I am. Go in the bathroom, stand in front of the mirror, do my best mother imitation, and tell myself I am a worthwhile person. Silly as it sounds, it actually helps, and cracks me up in the process–so I don't dwell on the negatives and get on with my day! 'Cause I've found that sitting around, doing the "woe is me" thing just makes everything so much bigger and worse than it is.

    I'm slowly learning to stop comparing myself to people (this week aside ;). Why try since I am a unique person: my upbringing, lifestyle, interests, talents… they all combine to create someone that is unlike anyone else. Sure, I can aspire towards a skill or path that someone else has taken, but realizing that because I am me (not them), means that the outcome may be drastically different–but more suited–for me. Does that make sense? In a way, it's giving myself permission that it's okay to be unapologetic ally me, while at the same time allowing my life to tweak things about me and shape me as I fumble along.

    Anyway, enough rambling. 😉 Thank you for sharing this email, Sal. Thank you to Parsley P. for bravely asking this question too!!! I think it's a topic that touches a lot of people, and is really worth exploring and discussing. 🙂

    ♥ Casey
    blog | elegantmusings.com

  • Sal

    HUGE thanks to everyone for these amazing and heartfelt comments. You all continually amaze me with your honesty, generosity, and empathy.

    And reading that SO MANY of you struggle with feelings of fundamental inferiority just breaks my heart. I realize that working through these issues as individuals is the only way to truly overcome them … but it still makes me wish I could wave a magic wand that would reveal to each of you how unbearably awesome you truly, truly are.

  • jayme

    thankyou for this. this is my first visit to your blog but you have no idea how much i sincerely needed something like this to legitimately tell me what i already know but cannot figure out how to put into practice. this actually made me cry because it just hit really close to home, and i think it does for everyone even though a lot of people seem like nothing even fazes them.

    thankyou so much.

  • Erin

    Sal: Thank you for this. I have been on a bit of a media blackout recently, and I finally got around to catching up on my beloved Already Pretty posts. This one did not disappoint.

    Even though we have never met in person, I refer to you as "my blogger friend, Sal" — precisely for thoughtful and well-written posts such as this one. You are kind, smart, and brave, and you make me smile and pump my fist in affirmation.

    As always, keep up the exceptional work.

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