I have always felt like my self-worth had to be earned. That my existence was not enough to justify itself. Lack of a nurturing environment during childhood? Absent father? Lonely youth? Genetic predisposition to feelings of depression and isolation? Whatever the cause, whatever the case, this is how I am. I crave connection- first and foremost because I am human, and all humans need to feel like they are a part of something. But also because… That’s me. Heightened, amplified, augmented, truly madly desperate for those around me, me.
Let me break down my weaknesses to you, so that no one may ever use them against me again.
Yes. I’ve been an “attention whore.” Desperate for affirmation. Thriving on compliments and praise. Doing things specifically to garner the right kind of response. But are any of us not? There is a difference between opinionated and being outspoken. All people are opinionated. Very few care to define those convictions and make it something worth commenting on. I happen to be both. And in this case- what is my opinion? I need attention. (All of us do.) How do I speak it? By asking for it. (Not all of us do.)
This is what my last boyfriend absolutely hated, could not STAND about me. That so much of how I saw myself came through the lenses of whoever’s eyes were pointing in my direction. He’d chastise me for dressing a certain way, for my social media obsession, for not being able to let a conversation end without my humor sprinkling the air, “Hey, I’m here too! Notice me! Laugh at my jokes!”
He was the type of person, for whatever reason, that had his beliefs, his principles, and lived by those alone. Call that narrow-minded, but it became something that I grew to admire. Consequently, I started to see why he hated the things he hated about me. I started to hate them, myself. Why can’t I just be content with being who I am? Why can’t I let others rest just observing and accepting me? Why do I need so much from anyone other than myself? The external, the unreliable, the harsh or ignorant?
So ensued my journey to become self-sufficient in forming my self-schema. But this quickly was met with hardships that I never anticipated. What do I believe in? What do I think/feel? What do I even look like? How can I grow to like myself, without even knowing myself? I was such a professional people pleaser that I didn’t even know what pleased me. I was used to being lukewarm and fluid, without substance or boundaries.
I knew what I had to do was to start taking mental notes of my thoughts and behaviors, and dissect the reasons behind it. Sort of a pseudo-psychology experiment. Abstract: Girl is deeply insecure, needs continual affirmation like water to stay mentally sound, and without such stimuli…
1. Schema is ever-changing. As we are never the same, our environment is never the same, life is never the same, so it’s important to see yourself as being in constant flux in harmony with the universe. It’s important to know yourself, but not so much important to have strict definitions that may hinder your growth or close yourself off from opportunities that lay outside the circumference of aforementioned imaginary “self.”
My desire to define myself enlightened me this way: you CAN’T define yourself. You can only KNOW yourself. Self-awareness in whatever state you are in, short or long term, fleeting or significant, is the first step to self-love.
Okay. I don’t yet love nor hate myself. But I can say that I know. I know what I like, what I believe in, what I’d die for, what I don’t really give two _ about. When I’m presenting things, now, it’s not because I think I’ll elicit a certain type of impression of myself. It’s what I really feel at that moment. I think it’s important for us to be a little more honest and a little less reluctant to share what’s going on in our minds. And of course, we should be confident that it is coming organically, rather than from external pressures.
Something I’ve noticed recently, while being / showing me and not caring, is that people will gravitate towards you MORE, the more YOURSELF you are. I’ve always known this, always valued people who stayed true to themselves, always found myself attracted to those with quiet, humble self-knowledge, but was never able to practice it. But over time, the less contrived I acted, the more comfortable I felt, and the more comfortable I made others. All the positive attention that I tried so hard for, came to me, naturally. Maybe not in the quantities that I had manipulated, but the quality was genuine. People would tell me things if they thought I could relate. People would pay me compliments for sincere efforts. People I wanted to be around, wanted to be around me.
Maybe the reason why, even when I was a quite successful “attention whore,” that I still felt worth very little, was because even positive energy is nothing if contrived. “Thanks for thinking I’m great, but I’m only a great actress.”
I’m sure some people hate me. And to those that do, cheers to you, cest la vie, to each their own, whatever floats your boat. I’d rather be hated for what I am, than loved for what I am not.
So, this is huge. It’s huge and never-ending. The transition from someone who thought that they had to offer help, laughter, time, money, sex, in order to feel like.. like anything at all, to someone who could just feel worthwhile breathing and existing. I would love more love in my life. I am open to it, want it, crave it. But I will never, ever, ever. Ask for it.