Tuesday, July 17, 2007

On Being Self-conscious

Dear Reader,

Yes, even the best of us have to deal with being self conscious every once in a while. Let's just say that when you're the middle of a sister sandwich where the sisters on both sides are a lot more into high heeled shoes than you are, things come up. Like when you're leaving the house and they ask you how you could possibly go out in public like that. I guess I was kind of asking for it, being a person who hates sitting still, meaning I rarely have patience for such trivial things as hair clips and lipstick. The sentiments get a little boring after a while, but I listen to be polite.

You know, it's kind of funny how we are constantly bombarded with conflicting messages regarding the subject of outward appearance, because people constantly tell you that it doesn't matter at all, until of course, they realize that you don't exactly want to uphold the status quo. Then they get hysterical and jump all around proclaiming how you're ruining their lives. It's pretty ridiculous, when you think about it, and the comments plant a seed of self-doubt that festers and grows until life just gets harder. Then you have a choice: you can give in and become part of the cult of the physical appearance, or you can go on being who you are, which is kind of like walking into a thunderstorm with pounding rain and whipping wind. I gets harder to keep going with every step, but you know what would await you should you seek shelter. It seems noble at first, or possibly romantic, but after a while you're cold and you just want a place to be safe. But if you're not careful, you'll just open yourself up to things that are a lot less comfortable. Criticism can be a powerful thing, because even though you have two eyes and you know that you aren't as visually offensive as everyone claims, the doubt still creeps in and it comes to the point where you just don't look in mirrors anymore, because if everyone is saying the same thing it must be true, right? Maybe you just don't know how to look, and it's best to keep the whole ordeal out of sight and mind.

The worst part, though, is the incessant kind of paranoia that greets you at every turn, as the seeds of self-doubt have turned into a kind of parasite that sucks at your personal sense of self-worth, creating a feeling that is so piercing and relentless that people die trying to silence it. Before that happens, though, you see everyone as a judge, and every stray glance is an act of condemnation. It's quite unbearable. I myself eventually found an escape through my Saviour Jesus Christ, and was very literally healed through the power of His atonement, but there are so many people out there who don't know how to access that power and even more who don't realize the impact unkind words can have on the soul of a child of God.

And even when you get over the worst of it, there is always a part of you that still looks for the judge in the eyes of the people you meet, no matter how many times you tell yourself that it's all in your head and that you are worth something. To combat this new foe, I found that all I had to do was develop a thick skin and a good sense of humor. The results were slow in coming, but eventually they gave me enough courage to start looking in mirrors again, a great victory on my part. It's the kind of battle that you would think a person who prides herself on their individuality wouldn't have to face, but being an individual is sometimes the hardest battle of all.
Anyway, I've found that being self-conscious, when you look at it, is a completely unrealistic way to live, because you know who you are and people today are way too worried about socks and sandals than they are about things that will still matter five, ten, or a million years in the future. Once you know who you are and who you need to be, you know that self-confidence is not only something that you deserve, but something you've earned through being kind and staying clean. So when those kind of feeling show up and threaten to ruin everything that I've worked so hard to achieve, I realize that self-doubt is in reality a very silly thing, and that silly things deserve to be dealt with in a silly manner (sense of humor, remember?). So I've come up with my own little solution to self-conscious feelings. When I feel that people are looking at me funny, I just tell myself that I must be purple. And I can't blame them, after all, I'd probably give a funny look to a purple person as they passed by. Then I tell myself that I need to work on that, because now I know how it feels. And somehow that helps, mostly because it gives me some kind of moral high horse to ride until I'm out of sight, because after all, at least I'm not racist against the color purple.

Praying helps, too.

Regards, best wishes, and self-worth,

-Cecily Jane

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