Tag Archives: confidence

The Words in the Closet

I wish that I could be everything to everybody all the time.  It’s really my life’s mission, to be that person who always gets everything right and does all of the things that people need from me.  I am quiet a lot of the time, and as a result of that I absorb a lot of what people around me say.  I take special focus in the things they say to me.  Every detail is important.  

I have trouble a lot of the time describing my feelings because I lack the perfect word.  I have trouble talking because I get too flustered over my need to know just what to say.  I fail all too often.  I can’t describe how badly it hurts.  Not out loud.  Not on my own.  I can’t ask for help.  Not out loud.  Definitely not without prodding.  I have always had trouble wrapping my brain around the idea that people care.  I put all of my energy into my marriage, and he never cared.  I project that on to everyone around me, that idea that I am nothing, that idea that they don’t care.  How could they?  Why would they?  I am not everything to everybody all the time.  As a matter of fact, as hard as I try, I rarely am.  I get my self esteem from my achievements.  When I can’t achieve, when I fail, I lose all of my confidence.  I have so little to begin with.  I let life snatch away what I do have.  

I keep my most important words close to my heart.  I am very careful who I share details with; I am very careful about forming connections.  I am slow to trust, and I am careful to protect myself.  When I do make a connection of any sort, I treasure it.  The idea that someone sees me, really sees me, is such an incredible feeling that I am loathe to let it go.

My greatest fear in life, regarding revealing the more intimate details, is that people will not believe me.  One of my favorite people once told me “I believe you.  I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t.  You’re so amazing, and strong.  And I know that it’s hard and it completely sucks.  But you can get through it, one step at a time.”  These statements are the type of detail that I hold on to, the type of words that can get me through a difficult day.  Because I am amazing, and I am strong.  And I am moving forward.  That’s another quote.  “Continual, forward motion.”  I love quotes.  I post them on Facebook frequently.  I collect them.  Because they mean something.  Words mean something.  They’re powerful, to both the good and the bad.

In my closet resides a shoebox.  More accurately, it’s a boots box.  It’s huge, and it’s filled up with a ton of these things.  When someone tells me something that means a lot, or that I know will be important to me in the future, I write it down and put it in the box.  I have quotes written on looseleaf, quotes written on napkins, quotes written on brochures.  You name it, I’ve probably written on it.  If I get a particularly inspirational letter, message, card, text, et cetera, I print it out and put it in the box.  When someone gives me something that means even a little, I hang on to it.  There are too many days where I forget.  Life is hard, and it’s scary.  When it’s especially messy, when I’m feeling lost, I have my words.  And I remember that I have people in my life who are there.  When I have a bad day, I can pull out the box and flip through the things and remember that people care.  That I have awesome friends.  That I’m loved.

Somedays I just need to hear the words.  To know that sometimes it is okay, and sometimes it isn’t, and that’s it’s perfectly okay to not be okay.  On those days, even the smallest words mean everything.

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The Voice Inside My Head

“You look so good.  Professional.”

I respond automatically.  “I’ve been trying.”

That’s the god’s honest truth.  For a while, I wasn’t trying.  I lived in the land of jeans and sweatpants with my hair in a ponytail solely because I could.  I’m starting to change, and I see that but I don’t know how to articulate it.  I don’t know how to put into words the person that I’m becoming.  Confidence is a difficult concept for me to understand.  

I allow myself to be bound by my circumstances.  I claim that I want to be more but I often fail to give myself that opportunity.  Case and point: last week I was eating dinner with someone and we were having a conversation about teaching and issues that come up in the classroom.  She mentioned a problem that she was having and I suddenly found myself talking in regards to solving the issue even though I probably had no business doing so.  After I had been talking for at least a minute, I realized WHO I was talking to and clamped my mouth shut with a hasty apology—I was certain she knew better than I did what sorts of things would solve classroom issues.  Surprisingly, she encouraged me to continue.  It occurred to me then that I maybe know a thing or two about, well…things.  There are many times where I doubt this.

It is easier for me to be unconfident because it’s what I know.  When I was younger, I was made fun of for the clothes I wore or my makeup or the way I did my hair or really ANY number of things about my person.  My friends would chastise me for speaking when I wasn’t spoken to, for trying to force myself into conversations where I had no place being.  I went from high school to marriage; my (now) ex-husband tried to force me into a box of his creation and seal the lid, and I went along with it.  I didn’t see another option.  His voice was the strongest that I knew and the one that I was supposed to be listening to.  

Now, however, I have many awesome people in my life.  I wear decent clothes on a fairly regular basis (with the understanding that it’s because I want to look nice, not because it is required as was my previous thinking pattern).  I wear crazy colored tights and glittery shoes and I do my hair and I try.  Because I care more.  I have people in my life who think that I’m amazing, who appreciate the fact that I have my own thoughts, who support me in my decisions, and who just want me around.  I’m trying to reach out and make connections and be a real, whole person.  

Here’s the thing though.  It’s still his voice that rings the strongest.  It’s still the thought that I don’t fit, that I never will, that I will always be in the shadows.  No matter how many times someone tells me that I am awesome or strong or amazing, no matter how many publications I get or successes I attain, I still hear him telling me that I’m not good enough.  I’m not working hard enough.  I’m not doing the right things.  I, the person who I am, the real me, am not enough.

I am different though.  Sometimes I wake up and find myself afraid of the day, like today, and rather than caving as I would have with him I tell myself that I am not afraid.  That I am stronger.  That I am better.  I fake it until I make it, as my very wise advisor has told me to do so many times.  I hear his voice, and I tune it out.  I’m starting to forget what it sounded like.  I am detoxing from the box that he built for me and making a life that is my own.

I want more moments like I had the other day at dinner.  I want to know that I know what I’m talking about.  I want to be sure of my abilities on my own terms.  I want to be my own person who can listen and interpret but not absorb absolutely everything.  I want to be confident.  

Most of all, I want the only voice inside my head to be mine.

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