If you are of the generation that was around for an MTV show called Daria and if you were one of those generation members that watched the cartoon, then that quote should sound familiar. It’s a quote that’s been stuck in my brain since I first heard it, so we’re talking a few years.
It stuck with me because it’s true. It is an accurate statement about myself.
Whenever I find myself feeling bad about myself, thinking I’m fat*/ugly/stupid/worthless/unsuccessful**, it’s not because I truly think I’m fat/ugly/stupid/worthless/unsuccessful. It’s because I’m thinking about other people thinking that I’m fat/ugly/stupid/worthless/unsuccessful.
Other people’s hang-ups bring me down. Thinking about what they’re thinking about me bruises my ego.
Of course, I don’t know for certain that everyone is thinking these bad things about me, but if I were to go by what I know about society, there’s a good chance I’m being dismissed as no good. It makes ME dismiss people as not worth my time pretty easily.
This sort of thing has plagued me for a pretty long while. Some days it weighs on my mind heavily, bottoming out my self-worth. Some days I can’t give a damn and don’t give anyone else’s firing synapses a second of my time. Either way, it’s impacted my behavior, my choices, and my own mind.
It’s a complicated sort of thing to deal with when you think you’re pretty great, at least there’s nothing seriously bad about yourself, and yet you know most people you encounter don’t agree. Like a black cloud on a sunny day, you keep your eye on it because you know that sucker is just gonna grow and downpour all over your laundry. It’s a confusing cognitive dissonance. How am I suppose to feel about myself when I have this consensus that’s so different from my own opinion?
Also how am I supposed to feel about other people? It’s really hard to like someone or even want to like someone or want to get to know someone that I’m sure has already judged me poorly because I don’t fit into society’s neat little box. I realize that it makes me the same kind of asshole that’s got me pissy in the first place. That little bit of reality isn’t lost on me.
I’ve lost out because of this way of thinking. I already know what the answer is so I don’t bother to ask the question.
However, I think there’s a change on the horizon.
Last month, during a week-long fit of esteem troubles, I was driving to one of my jobs when I had an epiphany, a thought so sudden I swear an actual beam of light came into my brain and chased all the dark thoughts right out.
It’s very easy for me to imagine folks judging me harshly. But it’s just as easy for them not to. It’s just as easy for them to take one look at me and think, “There is a cool cat and I’d like to know her.” And what kind of asshole am I not to even give them a chance? I should. Give them a chance, that is. Not be an asshole.
I like that way of thinking better. I’m kind of enjoying it.
I think I may have found a cure for my esteem problems.
*Fat meant as a bad thing. I am fat, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.
**Unsuccessful based on certain society standards such as being married, having kids, having a real job, having a college degree, that sort of thing. That normal road that we’re all expected to walk and considered losers if we don’t.