Now and then, I get a brief spurt of high self-esteem.
It was during one of these waves that I wrote the post “Anthem For Misfits”. One person even commented to tell me how proud she was of me, and I felt proud of me, too.
And then…I fell. The next post I wrote was about how scared and insecure I am. These bursts of fervor come and go, and when I hit a low point, I go very, very low.
Overall, I am a very insecure person. Right now, I’m screaming at myself for writing so poorly while trying to convey my suffering. Right now, I’m berating myself for using the word “I” so many times, and using this blog as a personal dumping ground for my issues. I’m afraid to appear like I’m whining. I’m afraid people sneer at such self-preoccupation, because I know in the end we’re all inherently selfish, and it’s hard to bother about other people’s woes.
But tonight, I’m going to keep on writing. Because I know someone out there, in spite of the self-centered attitude of this post, in spite of the horrific writing (the words flow out without any filter, I don’t press the backspace button for these types of posts unless it’s to fix the spelling) will be able to relate.
I know some of you out there care about me, purely through the glimpses of my soul you have seen through my writing, and those of you astound me – truly, for someone who has struggled with low self-esteem all her life, and has felt unlovable for many years, I am gobsmacked by your care and kindness. I can’t even begin to convey my gratitude; I feel that if I tried, I’d just start crying, crying, the kind of crying that makes your heart squish and contract in pain.
Deep within me is a gaping maw of unworthiness. No matter how hard I try, deep down, I still feel very, very worthless as a human being. I feel inferior to everyone I meet. I criticize myself ruthlessly, a constant barrage of negative self-talk, and only now am I starting to realize the true extent of my own destructive thinking.
Honestly, I’m not sure where these feelings of unworthiness started. Perhaps it was in primary school, when I was bullied by a group of beautiful girls, who giggled and taunted me and made me feel low and small and ugly. I don’t think I’m ugly anymore. I know I’m not ugly. In fact, I’ve grown more beautiful as I’ve grown older. Facially, I can laugh and say I’m pretty, but deep down, a little gremlin sneers and says, in a gravelly voice, “Really? You, beautiful? Look at those other girls.”
It partially has to do with growing up Asian in Australia, as the ideal standard of beauty over here is a Caucasian woman, preferably with a tanned, sexy body, and blonde hair and blue eyes. I love my Asian heritage, and wouldn’t want to look any other way, but have to work extra hard to maintain my self-esteem when bombarded with images of white beauty by the media every single day. It’s one of the reasons I cut television out of my life altogether – the lack of diversity was starting to sicken me – and why I even change the lyrics of some of the songs I sing, such as describing “green eyes” as “dark eyes” instead, to be more racially inclusive.
Piled on top of this is my idealism, my introversion, my eccentricity, my desire to help and care and trust and love, love, love. Even I scoff at how sweet and sentimental I can be sometimes, pausing along my walk to smile at a pigeon pecking at the grown, or showering a surprised friend with excessive motivation and compliments and love, just to have someone to lavish the contents of my heart upon, when she simply remarked that she was “feeling blue”. I know I should love this part of me, this part of me that’s so nice, and so wants to be nice, but mostly I feel it’s taken for granted, and repulses people in its enthusiasm. Then, I just shrink into myself, and weep in my heart.
Oh, and for those of you who have asked to email me. I would love to, but if I accepted one, I’d have to accept every single one, if only to be fair, and I don’t think I’d be able to handle it. Nevertheless, what I’m typing right now in this post is exactly what I would write to you; though perhaps a little shorter, for fear of boring you.
You know. I know I say this a lot, but I so desperately want to LOVE. I want to love every creature under the sun. Kiss birds. Hug bullied children. Wipe tears from the faces of those who have lost their loved ones, commiserate in the shared experience of being human and feeling pain and being so fragile and yet so strong and yet so hurting. I want to know their sorrows and their woes.
It’s one of the reasons this blog has made me so happy – your loving comments, and the love I hopefully give you in return, has allowed me to expend some of my deep and untapped affection. I love you. We’re all human. We all harbor secret pains in our heart, and are lonely when we close our eyes to sleep at night. I love you, from the bottom of my heart. No matter what race, what gender, no matter how you look, how much money you earn, I don’t care! I love you. Look at you. You’re a living creature, and you’re marvelous.
Now why can’t I say that to myself?
Why can’t I be so loving and nice to myself? It’s as if all my love is fighting to be freed out into the world, while where it is truly needed is back at home. I need to start loving myself the way I love people from afar, and it’s so hard. It’s like walking in reverse: strange, alien, awkward. The boy I was talking about in my last post? I’m sure I’ve repulsed him with my coldness, and it eats away at me, because I want to get to know him so badly, but I can’t seem to take the first step, and I haven’t had the opportunity to in quite a while. However, the next time I see him alone, without a group of friends of judge me, I’m going to talk to him; even if I’m shaking in my boots, I’m going up to him and I’m facing my fears of rejection and repulsion and I’m going to talk to him.
In the end, in order to love myself, I have to face the battened down child within me who was bullied for a few days at school, many, many years ago. Bullying is always terrible, but for a quiet, sensitive, shy child as I was when I was six, seven, they might as well have stabbed me with knives and left me to bleed in a crimson pool. I can still remember their faces. Their eyes shiny with condescension. So much bigger and better than me. So much stronger, standing over me. I’m not going to cry, writing this. I promised myself I wouldn’t. Often, I just use tears to pity myself, and I’m not going to do that anymore; self-pity does nothing.
Action. I need to take action, and take control of my life.
I need to hug the sad child within myself and tell her she is worthy, that she is beautiful, that she deserves to have friends who understand, that she is a good, competent human being. That she deserves to be loved. My eyes misted then, but I didn’t cry. Kept my promise. I always do. I always try to keep my promises, and I try so hard, I try so hard at pleasing people. I try so hard I loathe myself for my own desperation. I can’t be secure and bold and confident and cocky – that simply isn’t in my nature.
I can only be quietly secure in myself, once I regain my self-esteem, and I know, I know I will. Once I stop cowing inside every time I smile at someone and they don’t smile in return, every time I greet someone and their eyes stay cold while their lips stretch, every time I walk towards a group of people and they turn their gaze and avoid me, once I can brush off slights, I know I’ll be okay. That I’m truly brave and strong. Not just a lost little girl deathly afraid of people disliking her.
And I’m going to talk to that boy.
He may not be my soul mate, he may be nothing, he may be a jerk, he may treat me with derision, he may be indifferent towards me while I’ve already built our wedding in my head, already pictured him picking out books for me at the bookshop and us making dinner together in our cozy little kitchen, but I don’t care. I’ll talk to him, and after that I’ll sigh and pat the head of the little girl inside me and say, “See? It wasn’t so bad. It’s just talking. They can’t hurt you. Only you can hurt you. Understand?”
Yes. I’m going to talk to him.