Today I made an estimated total of 5 self-deprecating jokes. The first two made my brother laugh, the next two he did not comment on, and the last one resulted in a loud sigh and him walking away. I probably deserved that. The estimated total of self-deprecating comments (not jokes) I came up with but did not say aloud was not accounted for considering I was too afraid to know how high the number would be.
Yesterday, I decided to open Facebook for the first time in about 5,000 years. Lo and behold, the first thing that popped up in my feed was a clip of Joyce Meyer preaching about not relying on other people (friends, specifically) to make your decisions for you and to affirm you all the time just so you can feel better about yourself. I thought, “Yeah I guess that applies to me,” considering I had just an hour before sent my best friends a ridiculous amount of dressing room selfies so they could tell me what to buy versus what looked horrible on me. I can’t remember the last time I went into a dressing room and trusted my own judgement. Possibly never.
I forgot about the video and moved on, not really in the mood to dive any deeper into the issue than that. I was tired and hungry, so I went to the kitchen, grabbed my massive bowl of Chinese takeout and sat down to eat. Right before going to town on my honey-seared steak (oh man, it was so good), I opened my fortune cookie as one does when they order Chinese. And what did the fortune say, you ask?
“Keep your feet on the ground even though friends flatter you.”
To which I immediately thought, “Okay, God. I get it.”
You can disagree with me on whether that was some sort of sign or pure coincidence, but I don’t believe anything like that is an accident. Especially not when two things are so clearly connected and made me feel as convicted as I did. I always say that if you feel convicted, if you feel this twinge of guilt when you hear/read/say something, you should probably give that subject a whole lot of thought. Either way, I got the message that time.
Let me go backwards for a moment. It’s relevant; just stick with me here. I was a confident child, always too focused on more important matters than what I look like or how I act (in a non-destructive kind of way). As I mentioned in a previous post, I got a little older and started pointing out my flaws because everyone else did it. Oh, you think your thighs are too big? Well mine are clearly bigger, so I guess I should hate them. And then tell you about it so you can lie and tell me I’m beautiful just the way I am. It was like a game that everyone suddenly started playing and I wasn’t ready with my list of things-I-hate-about-myself yet. Eventually it turned into a bad habit of psychoanalyzing myself constantly. You walk funny. Your hair is messy. Your face is chubby. Your socializing skills are deplorable. You aren’t nearly as smart as you like to believe.
Fast-forward to right now. I am nearing 20 years old and constantly being told by older adults that this is the most attractive I will ever be, which I have to say has been really depressing. Please stop telling me that. I don’t have the promise of puberty to hopefully work a miracle anymore. This is just me.
I can start going to the gym, I can work on my personality as much as possible, but at the end of the day I will still be myself. I don’t know how to be anything else. I don’t know how to be less socially awkward or how to make my stomach flatter without starving myself. I do know that even if I work on those things everyday, even if I did something drastic like get surgery to fix my physical flaws (or go to the gym…gasp) and start acting like someone I am totally not, I still won’t be happy with the results.
So why do I care so much? Why is the threat of Summer and swimsuits and makeup being washed off when I get into the water and old friends coming home to hang out so terrifying? Even though I can still hide under sweaters and use the “I’m super busy right now” excuse for another few months. Why have a good 75% of all social interactions become cringing at myself for being so stupid? Even if I probably sounded completely normal to everyone else.
I’m thoroughly convinced that people were just hard-wired to care too much when it comes to other people’s opinions. Some more so than others maybe, but even the people who say “I don’t care what anyone thinks!” either 1) are hiding the fact that they are actually very insecure deep down, or 2) had to work extremely hard, and do so everyday, to get to that point. I reached that point for a few years in my life. I would point out my flaws because I was in high school and that’s just what high school girls did, but I really couldn’t care less. I was happy. Then, I stopped being mean to myself just because it was cool and grew to be even happier.
Then, it all came back worse than it ever was before. After going through something personal, I was stuck on the idea of insecurities. Why people had them, what mine were supposed to be, what makes people point out your flaws when they have their own insecurities, etc.
It was yesterday, after watching that video and reading my “fortune” that something hit me: I was seeking approval.
Aren’t we all motivated by approval in some way? I can say wholeheartedly that what I write, draw, take photos of are all for me. I want to make a career out of it all, sure, but I create what I want to create without much concern for how it’s going to affect other people’s opinions of me because I love what I do and will not stop for anybody. However, that may be someone else’s biggest insecurity. They may create a certain image of themselves in their profession that isn’t exactly true to who they are, always being overly conscious when it comes to their work. My insecurities lie in my appearance and personality, but that same person may have a complete lack of concern for how they stumbled over a word or how their face isn’t perfect.
What I’m trying to get my subconsciously insecure self to understand is that no one cares about what’s going on with you nearly as much as you do, and if they feel the need to notice and make a comment then they are just insecure themselves. It’s been told to me a thousand times, as I am sure you have heard it as well, but there is so much truth to it. It’s easy to hate the flaws in other people when it alleviates the pressure of your own, even if it’s just for a moment.
We are made to be self-critical so that we can be aware of our own shortcomings, but we are also inherently selfish, so we tend to get carried away with it. Or we get obsessed with all the wrong shortcomings.
Everyone has their flaws, both internal and external, but there is also so much beauty in humanity. We are capable of so much. Everyone is here for a reason. I keep thinking about the quote (from an unknown source, sorry), “How cool is it that the same God that created mountains and oceans and galaxies looked at you and thought the world needed one of you too?” If that isn’t encouraging, uplifting, and powerful, I don’t know what is!
“Whenever you feel unloved, unimportant, or insecure, remember to whom you belong” (Ephesians 2:19-22). In the words of Ethel Waters, “God doesn’t make junk.”