‘Hating Myself’ [Jan. 29, 2011]

[ Self – esteem ]

In all of the years that I have been dabbling curiously in graphology, I’ve learned one thing amongst most, and that is, handwriting analysis can be frighteningly accurate.

It has a way of pin-pointing characteristics that one may not realize for themselves.

An excerpt from my analysis:

“Rose’s true self-image is unreasonably low. Someone once told Rose that she wasn’t a great and beautiful person, and she believed them. Rose also has a fear that she might fail if she takes large risks. Therefore she resists setting her goals too high, risking failure. She doesn’t have the internal confidence that frees her to take risks and chance failure. Rose is capable of accomplishing much more than she is presently achieving. All this relates to her self-esteem. Rose’s self-concept is artificially low. Rose will stay in a bad situation much too long… why? Because she is afraid that if she makes a change, it might get worse. It is hard for Rose to plan too far into the future. She kind of takes things on a day to day basis. She may tell you her dreams but she is living in today, with a fear of making a change. No matter how loud she speaks, look at her actions. This is perhaps the biggest single barrier to happiness people not believing in and loving themselves. Rose is an example of someone living with a low self-image, because their innate self-confidence was broken.”

I did not believe much of this at first. ‘Of course I take large risks’, I said to myself. Going to Japan for three months with hardly any plan last year, for example, to seek opportunities was a massive risk. However, I realized that it was an uncharacteristically uncommon move in comparison to the usual. It was not until recently did it begin to dawn on me how astonishingly low my self-esteem and concept of self-worth truly is…How much I’ve practically disliked myself.

I am extremely shy of risk-taking in fear of failure. It never dawned on me how seriously hindering this fear of failure is. For example:

– Despite being asked to open a school to offer classes in what I do, I never pursued the idea in fear that no one would come to my classes, and that my venture would flop.
– I’ve rejected some opportunities because I could not see for myself how I could make them work.
– I recorded what everyone now refers to as my, ‘Hit Song’, and was embarrassed to allow anyone listen to it for almost a year afterward because I thought no one would care for it.
– I fear utilizing/practicing my other languages in fear of making mistakes and sounding ridiculous.
– I rarely show anyone my art because I feel that it is not good enough. Hardly anyone seems to know that I am an artist.
– I have an intense fear of entering competitions, despite encouragement.
– I was a very prodigious violinist when I was younger (I was as known for being a violinist then as I am known for my dance now), but a year of class overload, unhappiness and the like set me back. Seeing as though there was now someone better than me and devoted more time playing than I could, I stopped playing the violin out of shame.

Even now, I realized that I never welcomed the idea of celebrating my birthday with a party (especially one such as a large-scale sweet 16), because I always believed that hardly anyone would ever come, thus risking spending unnecessary time and money only for the very few who would perhaps be there out of obligation. I would oftentimes attend the large-scale ‘Sweet 16’, internally noting how lucky the person was to be loved by so many people, and admittedly envious.

My ‘Sweet 16’ was a diminutive one in comparison to those. It was an extremely unexpected surprise party in the living room of my then-residence orchestrated by my mother, and it was well-attended by 4 of my schoolmates. Even then, I was so overwhelmed at the unexpected enormity of the idea that anyone even cared to celebrate my birthday, that it was quite easily one of the happiest days of my life. Normally, I would dismiss the idea of celebrating my birthday as, ‘not my sort of thing’, when in fact, I realize how much I would actually like one, given the right circumstances. The thought of having a celebration surrounded by friends and family excites me when I think of it…How fun it might be to have soca and chutney music, or a little hafla with a live drummer and other dancers. But, it’s only a fond dream when I cannot even bring myself to fathom the pain of being unloved that I would feel if I hoped for a celebration and hardly anyone showed up.

I’ve always felt as though I am a walking enigma. So many facets of my life that I’ve seen as perfectly normal to me are perceived to be ‘abnormal’, in comparison to most others. There is no general positive or negative connotation to this statement. From the exterior qualities such as my features that are inconsistent to the stereotypical view of what people believe my fellow countrymen ‘should’ look like, to the interior qualities, my way of thinking, etc. I tend to surprise people, warping their seemingly limited perceptions of how things are ‘supposed’ to be. The stereotypes, the assumptions, they irk me, so I try to express these ideas in one of the most effective ways I have found possible – entertainment.

Yet, I find that hardly anyone acknowledges the true extents of my capabilities because I deathly fear giving an impression of conceit. I find that most people equate me with being only a dancer, when, in fact, dancing is but 15-20% of my life in comparison to the other pursuits that I busy myself with. At first impression, I find that many people do not tend to believe me when I say that I am capable of doing something. I may say that I can/like to draw, write, sing, produce music, play an instrument, speak [insert language here], but It is not until my credibility is enforced by evidence that people actually think to believe me…out of surprise.

For as long as I strive to hone my skills and talents, I acknowledge that there will always be someone out there that is better than me. I find that until I can truly feel that I am the ‘best’. Which is normally never, I tend to conceal evidence of progress. The reason I am known mostly for dancing is because it is what has been publicized the most.

It is not only because I was told to be ‘good’, it was because over the years, I’ve always been told to be ‘the best’, ‘the shining star’, ‘Number 1’, ‘the best I’ve ever seen’. For me, ‘Good’, or even ‘great’ is never good enough. I have to be perfect. I have to be told constantly that I am ‘The Best’ to believe that I am any good at all. While memories of positive reinforcement can be vague and mildly assuring, negative criticisms, even if extremely few, burns an almost indelible image of utter failure in my psyche. I would be ten times more apt to recall a negative comment than a very positive one. I realize that for so long, I never believed for a second that I was capable of song, for I recall a comment made by my grandmother, a well-respected singer, that I sound ‘like a child’, in comparison to then-famous opera prodigy, Charlotte Church. As I look back, however, I realize….I was 13 then. I was a child (technically). Yes, I’ve been told to have a ‘beautiful voice’ quite a few times when I sang silently to myself, but I’ve always dismissed those comments as, ‘they’re just saying that to be nice’. I had to have the positive feedback from the community and to be told that my song was a ‘hit’ to start thinking that I could sing at all. It was never enough to be told that I am, ‘smart’, I had to be told that I am a ‘genius’. ‘That was good’ is never good enough; I must hear, ‘That was amazing!’. Without a constant stream of nearly 100% stellarly positive reinforcement, I would never have even believed that I could dance, either.

[ Rejection ]

A major root cause of my perceived self-worth; Rejection.

Rejection has shaped my being in such a way, that the most potent fodder for my creativity in almost all pursuits is the pain of being rejected. Yes, it is inclusive of romantic spurning, but not entirely exclusive to it. It includes rejection from opportunities, friendships, and family. And damn, doesn’t that sound pathetic?

The first response I get from others is, ‘I find that very hard to believe’. And yet, it is all I’ve ever known. People oftentimes ask, ‘How can you be heartbroken if you’ve never even been a relationship?’ – An overwhelmingly ludicrous question, in my opinion, as I’d suspect that the answer is in the question itself. Has no one taken the time to consider that perhaps the crushing experience of unrequited affection could be just as painful, if not more? It is difficult to not ask oneself, ‘What’s so wrong/terrible about me’, when it becomes a recurring trend.

I am not a ‘depressed’ person by any means. However, I do periodically tend to flop into bouts of depression due to feelings of worthlessness. I withdraw myself into seclusion in times of melancholy to conceal my weakness and to portray myself consistently as a cheerful, optimistic person (even though it is counter-productive at times), and to not be a burden on others in fear of being labeled as a ‘complainer’. I don’t want to be seen as ‘mean’, so I would allow myself to be walked on in certain situations.

I’ve worked incredibly hard on my crafts over the years, perhaps to the exclusion of much else. I oftentimes wonder…If I really am the ‘best’, or ‘one of the best’, then why have I not achieved the successes that I should perhaps be deserving of? In comparison to where I started, I’ve certainly achieved much, much more than I would have given myself credit for in the past…but I am not yet satisfied. I may fear entering competitions, but I am in constant, internal competition with myself. I feel that I must prove everyone who has ever doubted me, wrong.

I have been holding myself back in fear of getting hurt. I find that I am so severely underestimated, and I have no one to blame but myself.

In all honesty, I still don’t believe I am beautiful.

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