Monday, September 10, 2012

Defining Moments

We all have them, those moments we look back at and say, "yeah THAT really screwed me up."  Some of us have more than others, but truth is we all have them. I was having lunch with one of my dearest friends the other day. She is one of those friends that you can just pick up where you left off no matter how long its been since you last spoke. She gets me.

I asked her a question that has been bothering me lately. "Why do I just give up? Why is it that when I meet an obstacle, ANY obstacle, I quit pursuing my goal no matter how much I want whatever I am pursuing?" She looked at me and said, "Good question, you do that. But I will have to think about it before I give you an answer." Fair enough.

As I pondered the situation I came upon some insight, oddly enough sparked by a group on Facebook. I logged in for my daily fix of checking up on people, yes I am one of those people, and I noticed a new group in which I had been included. The group was from high school and you could go confess your secret crushes. I thought to myself, why on earth would I do that? I wouldn't admit it then for fear of being laughed at and that is all that would happen now.

So, like any good face book stalker, I took a peek. There were a lot of people I didn't know who liked a lot of other people I didn't know. There were a lot of guys who had crushes on the "popular" girls who we already knew everyone had crushes on. Same could be said for the "popular" guys. I had that bitter, self righteous burning inside me that made me avoid high school reunions for 25 years. I was an unknown then and I am still an (insert explicative here) unknown. I have to admit the whole thing threw me into a serious funk.

But I got to thinking, after reading one of the "pretty girl" conversations, about how they were always worried about their weight and how they looked and even went so far as to say that no ever felt worthy of the one they had a crush on. Huh. Very insightful for a "pretty girl" (okay when reading that, firmly plant your tongue in your cheek).  Maybe this is where my hang up comes from, my lack of self worth.

So in the midst of my funk, I started thinking about old crushes, and I choose to hide my feelings rather than take a risk. My mind went back to grade school, back when I was a trusting soul and thought everybody was my friend. I had a crush on a guy who was a friend of mine. He was cute and hysterically funny (I've always fallen for funny guys). I told a girl who I thought was a friend and she promised she wouldn't tell anyone. This promise was forgotten as soon as she saw the young man in question. She let him know and, as it often happens when you don't feel that way about someone, things got awkward. In fact, from that moment on he didn't speak to me unless absolutely necessary. I was heartbroken.

In one fell swoop I felt the sting of rejection, lost a friend, and learned a hard lesson about trust. But here is the sad thing, I allowed what I THOUGHT he was thinking define me. By his avoidance, I defined myself as unworthy, ugly, and believed I was an embarrassment to anyone who had the misfortune of being the object of my desire. In reality, I have no idea what he thought, or even what she told him. My own embarrassment likely colored everything and perhaps he didn't really avoid me, but I shied away from him. At this point who knows? What I do know is that experience became a defining moment.

Where does one develop their self concept? I imagine most of us develop the belief of who we are from the feedback we get from those around us. Like it or not there is a pecking order in human relationships just as there is in the animal kingdom. I decided early on that I was going to stick myself nice and low on the order BEFORE anyone else could. I my mind, if I make myself feel bad about being me, its a whole lot better than someone else making me feel bad. This is how I developed one of my many forms of self defense. I make fun of me before you can.

The bad part of all of this is I am so steeped in this faulty thinking I am finding it hard to break free. If I look back there have been people that have tried to instill in me a sense of worth. In fact, the input from these people have been so jarring to the insecure and worthless cloak I wrap around myself that I still remember each event with a sense of awe. In junior high school, there was a teacher that told me he believed I could be the first female president. A guy in my English class saw a picture of me from a Halloween party in which I dressed as Sheena of the Jungle. He said I could swing through his vines anytime (I didn't say they were all enlightened comments). I had a comment written on a piece of creative writing in college. The head of the English Department said my writing was worthy of Edith Wharton. I couldn't believe my eyes! Granted there was a slight possibility that she hated the writings Edith Wharton...

My point is this, I had allowed the negative influences of my life so define me that when confronted with the positives I simply could not believe them. That said, these positive moments are forever etched in my mind. I have made it my mission to protect my daughters from the pit I fell into. I want them to develop a healthy respect for themselves and not fall prey to the doubts and insecurity that can steal the joy from life.  In order to do that, I have some obstacles I need to overcome. Which brings me back to the start of this little stream of consciousness, where I find myself quitting in the face of adversity. Perhaps I will now find the incentive I need to overcome.

I guess I am a work in progress, we all are. We can't allow ourselves to believe that it is all over, that there is no point to go on. I will continue the cling to the promise from scripture that says, "He that began a good work in you, will carry it on until completion until the day of Christ's return." Philippians 1:6   I know that Paul was talking to the church of Phillipi but I also believe I can count on this personally.

Now I need to get started on some goals, so if I seem stuck give me some encouragement. You may be another person engraved in my mind (and end up on my blog).

Don't say I never told you.

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