Perhaps one of the greatest challenges I have faced in my adult life is understanding my value and worth. Rarely have I viewed myself as being of great value to others…I’ve adopted a mindset that says, “I’m not important, I’ve got lots of flaws, and I’m not where I should be in life. I’m a failure.” These thoughts are horrible, and certainly untrue, but my mind has been conditioned to think this way. Much of this can be traced back to my childhood where I constantly felt like the outcast…there weren’t a lot of kids in our neighborhood and those that were around were all related, so they stuck together like super glue, and school didn’t feel much better for this black girl. If one had it out for me, they all had it out for me, so it was rough. I got used to being teased, I got used to being outside of the in-crowd, and I got used to having to fit in with people who didn’t look like me because those were the individuals that were most accepting of me just as I was. But, no matter how accepting my Caucasian counterparts were of me, I always knew we were different…and so, I’ve always lived my life with a small circle of friends and have always internalized things and battled with issues of low self-esteem.
Why do I share this difficult stuff today? Well…last night, I attended the viewing of a former co-worker who passed away last weekend. For whatever reason, I felt a burden to be present, which is far from my norm. I had worked with both the lady who passed away and her partner. They had both been very kind to me during my time working at the health department, and so I found it important for me to let a former colleague know I care. After paying my respects and preparing to leave, I was chatting with my former colleague and she shared a simple statement, “Judy always struggled with her self-esteem. She never thought people cared about her, but today she knows just how much she was loved.” When she said that, I had to pause because it triggered thoughts in my own mind.
It made me think about how I perceive myself versus how others perceive me. Sadly, I’m pretty certain that others view me much more favorably than I view myself. I’m very hard on myself…nothing is ever good enough…I’m never good enough. In my mind, I’m not smart enough, I’m not educated enough, I’m not fit enough, I’m not pretty enough, I don’t make enough money, I don’t have enough money, I don’t live in the right neighborhood, I’m not married, I don’t have children, I don’t have enough fashion sense, I don’t have enough friends, I’m not lovable, I’ll never be the apple of anyone’s eye, I don’t hang out with friends enough, I don’t have enough friends, I don’t work hard enough, I don’t give enough, I’ve never moved away to another state so I’m not independent enough, and the list goes on. As sad and unrealistic as these things may sound, it’s my reality…this record of “I’m insufficient” cycles through my mind far too often. The result…at times this relentless record can be depressing and cause me to question whether there is an element of crazy in me.
Perhaps because of my own feelings of inadequacy, this statement about Judy’s struggle with low self-esteem, not believing people cared, and not fully understanding the depth of love and appreciation others had for her prior to death touched me in a profound way. I realized that I don’t want that to be my story…I don’t want to live the remainder of my life harboring self-hate and wondering if others value me…I’m far better in this area than I was at one time, but I was reminded that I want to love myself unconditionally, and I want to be surrounded by people who genuinely love me, support me, and care about my well-being NOW. I have to know my own worth!
When I was created, I was made perfect…when I was born, I was loved unconditionally, someone wanted me around, I mattered…during every major accomplishment I’ve had in life, someone was proud of me, yet, I somehow forgot these things. Along the way I’ve been beaten down emotionally and lost sight of the perfect way in which I was made, but this year, I’m determined to fully know and appreciate my worth…I matter and it’s not because “God don’t make no junk”…it’s because I was created perfect in His image – perfectly beautiful, perfectly lovable, perfectly gifted, and perfectly graced! I’m worth something!
Until next time…