Turn it down, turn it off.

Reflections 2

Like most women, I’ve tended to be pretty tough on myself at times. Occasionally, I look back at the girl and the woman I once was and wish I could wrap her up in my arms, reassuring her that she is beautiful and she is loved.

As a teen, I focused on the surface; my acne, my weight, my hair, and clothes. You get the picture. The “popular girls” had the perfect Farrah Fawcett hair, crystal clear skin, and the clothes I would beg for. Though I was well liked, I didn’t own who I was because I saw only the surface of myself, and I was certain that was what the world around me saw. Insecurities were my constant companion.

As a college student, I chastised myself for not being as smart as I perceived my friends to be. I worked my tail off, and still didn’t land the grades my friends did. I knew what I wanted to do, or thought I did, but doubted myself and listened as others would share their skepticism in my career choice. Armed with doubts, I didn’t land the right interviews or launch my life with a grand trip abroad. I was certain the world would pass me by before my life began.

Though not where I thought I would land, I began to fast track up the corporate ladder (because I was apparently smarter than I gave myself credit only a few years earlier) in telecommunications. However, I still wrestled with self-doubt. I compared myself to those ahead of me, who seemed to have it all together and mingled without the reservations or social awkwardness I felt at our quarterly management meetings. I faked it, but I always felt as though I was 1 day away from being found out as a fraud and let go. I felt comfort when I found an article that revealed 90+ percent of corporate CEOs feel the same way. At least I was in good company, I rationalized.

Motherhood brought its own trunk load of doubts, insecurities, and wasted time. I’ve wasted a great deal of energy being unkind to myself over the years, energy I wish I could recapture. However, hindsight, as they say, is always 20/20 and though I could argue that idiom, wisdom can and often does come with experience.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’ve been ill for the last several days. All I can say is this is one persistent bug as I’m still not feeling great. One of my greatest frustrations of being ill is not being able to accomplish my (always) long to-do list, in part or in whole. I resent the aches that persist beyond Motrin and fight the demands for sleep. I become cranky and impatient with my family as a hidden demon comes haunting again. Whereas I no longer  rarely measure myself against others, I still hold myself to fairly high standards and measure myself against a completed to-do list. The less I get done, the louder the negative voice inside my head.

This morning, I looked around at the stacks of papers and unfolded laundry. I thought about today’s post for NaBloPoMo and the piles of grading needing to be done. I felt the weight of last week’s unfinished chores bear down on my spirits before my day I started. And, soon there it was, the voice that said, “You should have pushed through…You’re so far behind…It’s your own fault…”

Blah, blah, blah.

Nonetheless, I made a choice; I didn’t just turn down the volume, I turned off the negative voice within. Being ill forces me to binge watch renovation shows slow down and reexamine myself. I am more than the parts or the whole of my to-do list and, I decided, will show myself the same grace I show my husband, children, friends, even strangers. I’ve learned a lot in the 51 years I’ve been on this earth, and perhaps the most important lesson is self-acceptance, and that is a lesson I will gladly share with my girls.

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7 thoughts on “Turn it down, turn it off.”

  1. I was just worrying about my 13 yo this morning. She is so consumed with her outward appearance. I guess we all were as teens but today with the countless selfies and nonstop comparisons my heart aches for their lifetime of this. I must admit being hard on myself too but after 51 years as well — I hopefully have a healthier perspective.

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  2. It can be so hard to turn down the noise. What I love about your post is you ultimately give yourself permission to simply be. Your body is sending you a message, it’s storing reserves, it’s getting healthy. And that to-do list? That’s what matches are for. Feel better my friend. xo

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  3. I am virtually wrapping up the woman you are now in my arms, reassuring you that you are beautiful and you are loved. If I lived anywhere near you, I would do it in person. And I would bring you chicken soup from some great deli since I don’t cook. And I would bring you Sprinkles because they make everything better. Take care of yourself, binge watch anything you want and rip up the to-do list. It will still be there when you’re ready to tackle it again.

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  4. Funny. When I look back at my younger self, I always see myself as way more.confident than I probably was. I suspect that I was less conscious of the negative self talk than I am now. Thanks for a thoughtful post.

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  5. If we could only see ourselves as others see us. If we could only shed the self-doubt, take out the toxic chatter, then what remains will be who we truly are: ourselves. And that, my friend, is more than enough for me, because in the short time I’ve gotten to know you YOU are lit from within, and are someone that everyone in our core group looks to with admiration, deep respect and great affection.

    Can you imagine how I’d feel about you if I met you IRL? Oh, my goodness. Step back!

    You are a marvelous human being, Mary. xoxo

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