Kids are simultaneously soothing for the soul and shit for the self-esteem.
They don’t mean to be!
(full of shit that is)
In fact, I view their knack for calling it as it is as something to be treasured. They won’t lie to you – they’ll let you know if it’s time to do your mustache and will call you out on your 5 O’clock armpit shadow. Their observations, while painful, are also often helpful. If it weren’t for my 3 year old charge constantly asking why my legs are so prickly, I often would’ve thought I still had another day left before a shave was required.
So you see, for a normal person with regular levels of self confidence and no little voice in the back of their head, all of these comments would be something to laugh off. Unfortunately, my little voice feeds off these comments. Every question of “why do your arms jiggle?” or “why do your teeth look so big?” feeds directly into the little ball of despair that sits in my stomach. Innocent queries from curious young minds have the power to make me feel like a beached whale with half a brain and no friends.
Social anxiety isn’t just feeling awkward in a social setting. It’s the thought that you’re not fit to mingle with society.
It’s crippling at times.
Before I leave the house I will often change my outfit and hairstyle anywhere from 3-10 times over. I critique every aspect of myself before I start my day. If my hair is too frizzy, or my arms too flabby, or a zit has just declared war and invaded my forehead I can guarantee you I will find the flimsiest excuse known to mankind and blow off my plans for the day. My secret to being able to hold a conversation with fellow human beings? I actually sit and think out conversation topics before I interact. Not in a cutesy Katherine Heigl kind of way – I go through potential conversations in my head. “If I say this and they say this then I can either say this, this, or this.”. I like to be prepared for every possible outcome. This unfortunately makes me very insecure. The thought of someone being upset with me can bring me to tears and cold sweats. I will often do things that I have zero interest in doing merely to “keep the peace”. Saying “NO” frightens me and I’m terrified of being left out.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – we all feel like this at times. Insecure and ugly and scared. And I’ve always struggled to explain to friends how exactly these feelings are different in me. The thing is, these feelings don’t just pop up – they control me. Trust me, I don’t enjoy sitting at home because a voice in my head has kindly informed me that I’m not worthy enough to go out for a drink that night. These feelings and thoughts have a hold on me that I sometimes just can’t shake. Don’t get me wrong – often I can move past this. I may leave the house with a lump in my throat, but I do it and I enjoy myself. I’m even proud to say that the days of requiring 4 glasses of white wine and a shot (or 5) of tequila before getting on a dance floor are behind me.
The highs are fun, but the lows are an all-encompassing pit of darkness and complete despair. Some days I hate myself and my stupid mind so much, I cant even begin to imagine another person wanting anything to do with me.
I’ll be honest, I’m way over feeling like this. I want to LOVE myself and see what others claim to see in me. I desperately want to be easy-going and spontaneous and FUN. I don’t want to end up alone with my 5 cats and 3 goldfish (Pierre, Mathilda and Franklin), yet how can I dream of someone (a human someone) falling madly in love with me and whisking me off my feet when I can’t even tolerate myself most days?!
Today is unfortunately one of those days where I feel small and silly and insecure. Geneva is calling my name and I have a full day to explore, just me myself and I. Yet I spent the morning thinking about how terribly out of place I will look and feel in my ugly clothes with my massive hair, flabby arms and terrible French.
So having just hopped out of the shower, I am forcing myself to go adventure around Old Town and then treating myself to dinner and drinks ALL ON MY OWN. I will probably do my thing ( take a deep breath, tap each of the fingers on my left hand to the pad of my thumb while internally counting to ten, then let the breath out) 50 times over, and I will likely leave the house in a cold sweat but I am going to do it.
Today I conquer Geneva, tomorrow the world.
Well…maybe not the world…but perhaps a Swiss grocery store?
Progress is progress, slow as it may be.