This year, I am not going to be mean to myself.
As an introverted child, I had a hard time making friends. I quickly learned that who I was (a quiet person) was not ideal. Comments like “why are you so quiet?” made me even more nervous in social situations- I wanted to talk more to blend in, but then I would get so nervous about what to say I wouldn’t talk at all. And I was not very kind to myself about these ‘failed’ social interactions.
So I tried to pretend to be more outgoing. I read self help book after self help book on how to talk to people and how to better myself. I thought of at least 20 things I could talk about at any given time, but inevitably someone would still call me out for being ‘quieter’. I would beat myself up over it because I had failed in my goal to be “talkative.” Every time I heard that I was quiet, it reminded me of my failure. If only I were more talkative, I would have more friends, more opportunities, a better life. If only I had a completely different personality, everything would be better.
Because of this, I was going to extremes to ‘perfect’ myself. In my mind, if I achieved ‘perfection’, then no one would ever be able to tell me I was quiet. Or, even if I was still quiet, it wouldn’t matter because of all the other great things I’ve done. To me, being told I was quiet meant I was still not good enough.
I wanted to have so many adventures that no one could tell me I was shy. I wanted to be so well rounded that no one could call me a nerd. I surrounded myself with hobbies and knowledge and experiences as a protective shield.
But the problem with having a goal of ‘being outgoing’ is there is no definitive end. And it wasn’t the real me. I was running myself into the ground for an unhealthy goal I would never reach. No matter how many hobbies I had or how hard I tried to pretend to be outgoing, there would always be people that would comment on my personality.
Does that sound like an enormous amount of pressure or what?
So yeah. This year I am not going to be mean to myself. That means I have taken a step back from constantly trying to ‘improve.’ It means no more self help books or negative self talk. It means no more dissecting everything I said, everything they said, every facial expression I thought I may have made when talking to someone. It means not beating myself up and not blaming myself for every social interaction that isn’t ‘perfect.’ It means treating myself like my own best friend: with encouragement and acceptance 🙂