Post #4 – Self Worth

Kevin St Onge

(Kevin)

Themes of self-worth and self-confidence seem to be popping up all around me lately, both in my life and in the lives of those I care about.  I have come to wonder if the first doesn’t feed the second. How can we expect self-confidence if we don’t feel worthy.

 

Last week, I met someone who is reading these blogs.  Initially, it caught me off guard. I suppose I thought that aside from my family and a few close friends, no one would be interested in reading my pontifications about life.  Who the hell am I to have anything important to say?

 

Well, apparently there is at least one person out there and she graciously complimented me on our blog and encouraged me to keep writing.  I didn’t take the compliment very well, I kind of deflected it. It’s not because I’m humble; in fact I can be quite impressed with myself at times.  No, I didn’t take the compliment well because I didn’t feel worthy of it: that’s different than being humble.

 

I have always struggled with self-worth.  If you know me, or have known me in the past, you might not guess that.  My “mask” is pretty convincing. You see, I have a big personality that I can wield to great effect when I want to.  I am one of those people that can walk into a room full of strangers and own it. I can project confidence, and in earlier versions of myself cockiness and arrogance.  As I have grown and matured a bit that has morphed into an ability to engender feelings of interpersonal connection with people. But yet, as open and as vulnerable as I can appear, that public face belies the hidden inner truth:  I struggle with poor self-image and truly feeling connected to others.

 

I think that I have come to use my vulnerability, and now maybe this blog, as a shield to protect myself.  I “out vulnerable” people and it keeps everyone at a safe distance. It’s like an emotional game of chicken, most people will only want to go so deep before they will pull back, so I just have to be willing to outlast them and I’m safe.  (Ya, I’m not sure what happens if someone ever calls my bluff.) You see, I only let you in so far, it may feel like I have let you deep inside, but you are really only seeing what I feel safe enough to let you see, if I let you get too close, you might wander into my truly vulnerable places, into the authentic depths of my being where I doubt everything, where I have no confidence, where I keep every hurt, every embarrassing moment, and every rejection locked safely away.  There have only been a few select individuals in my life who have been given access to this treasure room, and fewer still who I have open that box for.

self worth

I want to though, I want to take someone there and show them.  You see, I brought someone there once and I showed her every artifact and every keepsake.  It was magical! She was unrushed and unconditional in the loving care with which she walked down memory lane with me.  Like a proud mother who is overjoyed to see her child’s distorted Play-Doh coffee mug or the imperfect watercolor. Kristin didn’t see the flaws in my momentos, she saw them as a splendid mosaic of my life:  what made me, me. She taught me how to see myself and the world through that lens.

 

I remember talking with my Dad about this once and he said, “She helped you to see something we all saw, but you never could.”  It’s true, the love with which Kristin would look at me disarmed me. It melted away my defenses and my mask. I used to think, “If this incredible woman loves you like that, maybe you need to take another look and try to see what she sees.”  I don’t think that I ever felt worthy of her love until after she had passed. Only then did I feel like I passed the test, I kept my promise to love her and care for her to my utmost ability, with an integrity of spirit and a selflessness that I never knew I possessed.  Only when her life was over did I truly feel worthy.

 

Well, that might not be entirely true, I still have my moments when I might let some low-self worth sneak its way back in and taunt me.  But, that’s where my work is now, in the nurturing and cultivation of the seeds of worth that she planted in me. In Kristin’s physical absence, it is now my job to keep learning and growing and to honor her love by believing that I am worthy.  So, with a thought of why not me? I am worth it. I mustered up some courage this week and I asked an amazing woman out to dinner; she said yes! Too soon to say if I will one day feel safe enough to show her the man behind the mask, but I want to, want to, so that’s a start.

 

Lastly, to the kind woman who went out of her way to say a nice word to me, I apologize and thank you, old habits die hard.  Next time, I’ll remember that I am worthy of your compliment and appreciatively accept it.

Author Jen Parker

(Jen)

UGH! you always pick the tough ones, this topic just happens to be the reason I self sabotage, only let myself get so far, and why recently I was called out, “Parker, I think you have a commitment issue.” Alright Kevin, if you can, I can. As far as letting people in? If I’m an open book then there is never  a need for anyone to  look any deeper. Well good morning, Kevin. I wasn’t expecting this prompt, but why not?

My insecurity, never feeling enough to simply allow myself to be still, has plagued me since I was a young child. My quest for self worth has brought me all over the world, across this country, through three marriages, countless careers, and recently a short stay in politics. The one constant in all of this has always been writing and sharing. In some strange way the release of negative emotions and feelings through streaming my thoughts and experiences onto my keyboard was never enough, so I began sharing my writing on platforms without walls. My search for self worth has felt much like my addiction to sugar, high highs and low lows. It’s always gone a bit like this, if my self conjured approval ratings seemed to be high in the moment than I’ve been able to breathe freely and even have a bit of an excitement buzz. If I felt as though I have disappointed, wronged someone else than hives appeared and I begun to go inward,  taking myself out of the game.
We live in a world that touts equality yet when there is skin in the game, humanity often seeks to divide and , people into succinct groups. We are divided by age, gender, color of our skin, religion, economic class, life accomplishments, and ability to stand out in a crowd among many others.  So is our self worth something that is supposed to spring internal or is it evaluated by the extrinsic factors of the world we live in? It’s enough to drive yourself mad if you spend too much time thinking and dwelling on it. For most of my life I have allowed my self worth to be determined by external factors and have found myself responding and reacting to the evaluations in many different ways. I became a rule follower who would rebel in isolation. I would ultimately strive to please but struggle silently as I leaned in another direction. It wasn’t until recently that I chose to do the opposite knowing that it would cause others to pause, think differently of me. I had finally come to the place in life where that suddenly becomes okay and being true to your internal compass outweighs approval from others.
So where does that leave me today in this moment? I’m a middle aged woman, some may think past my prime, with new ideas and expectations about life and all it has to offer. Is 46 middle aged? I guess that would only be determined once I have kicked the bucket and my physical existence has ended. I would like to believe that I have a lot left in me, a lot of new ideas emerging about how I can go about life simply being me. It’s probably one of the scariest ideas I’ve had, even more so than starting new businesses or running for an elected position. It has already changed how I reacted to being asked to do something not in my lane or something that makes me feel uncertain rather than inspired. I’m beginning to know what it feels like to lean into being me: I’ve been writing more, focusing on my newest business, and spending time with the people I love. So far, simple feels good. It’s just the unexpected moments of deciding to share a blog with someone I’ve only just recently met and being challenged to stick with my newest life choices. It’s almost as if life is daring me to be more of my true self than I ever imagined.
Am I worthy of all of this simple bliss? Is it okay for me to sink into balance and certainty without guilt or worry? I remember Oprah once said if you want to know the condition of a woman’s psyche, just take a look at her bedroom. For years I lived in beautiful chaos. My clothes were strewn across my floor, my bed never made, and books piled randomly throughout the space. Just weeks into finding and living my simple bliss, laundry is caught up, the bed is made, and books have been stacked neatly on a side table or bookshelf waiting to be read. This is new for me. This never used to feel comfortable or safe and while Kyle struggled to keep our room tidy in the midst of my indecisiveness it almost made me feel uneasy. In making the choice to simply be me and saying no to an opportunity of a lifetime I have found a little more space to work with Kyle in keeping our home and building our future together.
I am far from feeling worthy but I am further from feeling unworthy. In a small way progress has been made and comfort found in my uneasiness of making different life choices. We’ve formed lots of habits along the way, most are difficult to break, others yet to be discovered. As my dad used to say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” It makes me smile to remember there were moments of light in his life and maybe he made the only choices he knew were available. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will be my realization of self worth and certainty. Still, I can choose to step in a new direction towards feeling worthy and having value in this fractured world of one. I think I will, I know that I have, and today that is enough for me.

 



  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *