Me, Myself, and I

I stumbled across one of my old journals while I was cleaning my apartment this afternoon. (Three years have convinced me that everything in my life will be all right–or at least manageable–if I just take two hours to clean my home each week. While this may not be for everyone, I’d recommend considering it at least. It could change your life.) The journal began in the summer of 1999 and went through spring 2000. I journaled very faithfully in those days…once a day usually, though sometimes I missed a day here and there. I had to laugh at the ponderings, poutings, and general relatings of my 13- and 14-year-old self. I felt so old then; a wiser me smiles and shakes her head–I was just a little girl, really.

But something I scribbled in an entry caught my eye. My younger self wrote about feeling ugly, inept, and not worthwhile. Over a decade later and “all grown up,” I still struggle with those feelings. I know I’m not alone in this; in fact, I can’t think of any woman I know who doesn’t fight against these kinds of feelings and thoughts, at least sometimes. And too many women don’t even fight them, they just accept them as a matter of course. We all have this deep-down, debilitating sense that we’re just not good enough. (I assume–and have heard–that men struggle with this, too, but I’m not in a position to write with much authority from that perspective.)

At the risk of being blunt, I say: we feel this way because it’s true.

We’re a fallen race, and we carry that mark around with us. We are ugly, inept, and not worthwhile. We aren’t good enough.

Except that we’ve been lifted up by a God who loves us.

Still, we’re marked by what we were before, and that marking shows itself in so many ways–in our constant falling down, our failure to grow in virtue or to perform good acts, and in our giving in to this sense of ugliness. It’s so easy to run ourselves into the ground with our self-loathing, and when we do that we negate what we’ve become by God’s grace, and we stunt our growth into the person he wants us to be.

What keeps us in these patterns of self-dislike? Sin, for one thing. It’s hard to be “okay with me” when I watch myself fall on a daily basis into the same petty, disgusting, stupid sins. And Satan, too. He’s got a self-loathing fetish, and he feeds that sense in us with glee. He feeds it in each of us differently. To take my life as an example, he gets me to compare myself to others. That girl is prettier/smarter/better dressed/holier; she makes more money than I do; she’s engaged, and I’m not even dating; she gets asked out more…the list goes on and on and nauseatingly on. And so I become bitter about who I am, about where I am in my life. Funny, isn’t it? I throw the gift of myself back in God’s face (well, not quite; I’m a polite person by nature, so instead I hint around for a gift receipt) because it isn’t quite the right color, shape, size. I make conditions. I’ll love myself when

Chances are, I was making those same conditions with God twelve years ago when I wrote that journal entry. Maybe it’s time to pick it all up, tuck it away, and embrace it. This is who I am. Twenty-something, single, Catholic, artsy, scared of just about everything, bad at sports, decent in the kitchen, working a job I like that just barely pays the bills, practically running in the opposite direction when a guy makes eye contact and therefore not going on many–or, okay, at this point any–dates, trying to keep up some semblance of a social life despite the inevitable awkwardness of most parties, doing my best to maintain a life of prayer, and in general just doing my best and trying to keep moving. This is where I am.

And it is very, very good.


6 thoughts on “Me, Myself, and I

  1. I completely understand! For the first time in years….or ever really I was able to look at my self and believe that I am happy with my body (I still have a hard time with always thinking that all my girl friends are prettier and smarter than me which can be depressing). This was truly a grace from God as I know that I have been fitter and slimmer than I am right now. But I started trying to see things from His point of view and if one of the ceramics that I painted in high school told me that they thought I did a crappy job and they would like a new paint job I would be very upset and insulted.

    This is a great time in our lives to be happy with our selves and to live life to the fullest without it be contingent on someone else…..for if we cannot be happy when we are single there is no way we will be happy when we are married.

    • LOL to the ceramics in high school bit! That’s so apt and so true. =) And I think you’re just lovely, as well as being a talented hostess and probably one of the most fun and welcoming people I know. And your bit at the end is dead-on: if we make conditions and say, “I’ll be happy when…” we’ll never be happy. “When” never comes in that scenario.

  2. For what it’s worth, I’ve always admired and looked up to you.

    Last year was a very blessed one for me: my roommate helped me to see how valuable this time of singleness is for us. We took advantage of *almost* everything we could: trips to the city for various cultural events, picnic dinners of wine and grilled cheese on a whim, movie nights with friends, road trips – lots of things we wished we had time for while in college, but the pressure we put on ourselves to succeed academically prevented many of them. This year has been more difficult for me, though: I’m definitely someone in need of a “wing man” in social situations, someone more outgoing and engaging than I. I like to be at leisure to chip in to the conversation every now and then, not having to carry it. I used to see this as a failure in “talent”, but now I see that it’s simply not my gift. I have others, and like you, I need to find somewhere to use them. Sorry, that was a bit of a digression due to your previous posting.

    Yes, I think comparisons can be fatal. I make them all the time: I think my biggest ones are more in regard to intellect. That person is more well-read/spoken than I, so knowledgeable, experienced, liked by everyone – you get the picture. I get intimidated, and then I can’t express myself well when I’m around them: they could say it so much better. I can only pray that my listeners will please ignore my “um”s, “yaknow”s and “like”s. (I know, it’s hateful, and I an English major). If I could only present them with a cookie I decorated, card I made or go decorate their living room, maybe they’ll accept me.

    • Thanks for the thoughtful comment! I’ve always admired and looked up to you, too, so it would seem we have something in common. I know what you mean about needing a wing man. It can be hard to find delight in doing those fun, spur-of-the-moment things we singles are still able to do when you have to do them alone. =T And as someone who tends to be the conversation carrier (or “attention hog”), I always admire those who can stand quietly and listen, instead of running their mouths like what they have to say really matters. 😉 See, we all admire our opposites.

      And while I love your baked goods and your decorating style, I also always find a lot of food for thought in what you have to say. So consider yourself accepted, at least by one member of the vast “they.”

  3. Yes, guys also feel inadequate and not good enough, especially when I think about how many times I disappoint myself and God. Both He and I have high expectations of me, and disappointment with not reaching goals quickly can be more than disheartening.

    I’d like to point out that confidence, which stems from loving who you are right now, and thinking that, at least in some areas, you do excel, leads to great things. There is even more pressure on guys in this area; you wouldn’t believe how man women tell me that they just can’t take guys that don’t have A LOT of confidence. Heck, even a very distorted sense of confidence can be attractive to women, even if that confidence stems from untruth (or at least distortion).

    So this human failing, which you attribute in many ways to the fall (I agree), can be even harder on guys because confidence is so highly prized by both potential dates and our employers. No matter the gender, I think it’s important to encourage confidence in each other. Posting on blogs is awesome, but even more valuable, and more chartiable, is telling somone in a handwritten card. Telling them face to face that they inspire you, that you think that X or Y is a really valuable and admirable. Yeah, I know it sounds cheezy to think about it. The few times I’ve tried the face to face approach, I’ve often left the moment feeling awkward. But I can tell you that the few times someone has told me this, it’s made my day, week, and month and doubled my confidence. Encouragement is something we need always, from 0 to 99.

    Dominus regit me

  4. I totally understand. This is something I struggle with all the time, especially comparisons. I went to a retreat once where a priest said, “We need Christ’s Divine mercy to be able to love ourselves.” That really stuck with me, and I pray for the grace of that mercy and for it to transform my life.

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