That’s Just the Self-Doubt Talking

esteemIn several areas of my life and in regards to several aspects of my existence, I am a confident person. In fact, I have been told that the confidence I carry from knowing who I am and how I relate to the world, from knowing my job and doing it well, from being smart and funny and tossing that 1-2 punch like I’m going for a knockout is really intimidating. From certain vantage points, it looks like I actually have my shit together and I know what I’m doing.

And then there’s the rest of the time.

While my self-doubt is always present in a few areas of my world, right now it is really rearing its unattractive head in terms of my unsuccessful writing career.

Here’s how it goes: I get the idea to do something. I think it’s a great idea. I think it could work. I think I could pull it off. I get gung-ho. I start to work towards bringing this idea to fruition.

And then I realize that it’ll never work. No one will go for this. I’m not popular enough/charismatic enough/smart enough/good enough to pull this off. It’s wasted time and effort because for this to work, people will have to participate/pay attention and nobody wants to do that. Nobody gives a shit what you do and they don’t want to play, Kiki, so stop wasting your time.

And then I get really bummed and start questioning what the hell I’m even bothering with all of this for.

It’s not just a vicious cycle, but it’s also very effective at ensuring that I don’t even try to do something because, hey, what’s the point? I’m just going to fail anyway and haven’t I landed directly on my face enough?

The latest aborted idea was the giveaway of one of my “wrecked” print copies. At first I thought, yeah, this will be fun. A few of my friends and family members will enter it. Nobody will get uptight if it doesn’t go completely smoothly because it’s my first one and I’m still learning the ropes and they’re my friends and family. It’s all cool. A practice giveaway! What fun!

It didn’t take long for the self-doubt to come strolling in like Blair Warner on a mission to out-snob somebody.

“Nobody wants one of your crappy wrecked copies. That’s a stupid idea. Nobody’s going to enter. They’ll just ignore you like always. You don’t even know how to run a giveaway. This is going to go tits up and you’re going to look like an idiot. Stop yourself.”

I don’t think I need to say that my friends and family don’t always ignore me. They don’t, of course. But my self-doubt is no dummy. It knows that I’ve been overlooked. It knows that I’ve been dismissed. It knows that I’ve been patted on the head and told “that’s nice” in order to be placated. It knows that people have shown absolutely no interest in anything I’m doing. It knows that I’ve been kicked aside in the rush for folks to surround someone else.

It knows.

It knows and it uses this to its advantage and I hate to say it, but I’m not completely up to the task of battling it every time it decides to make a grand entrance. My self-doubt gets a lot more encouragement than I do, unfortunately. Not always intentional, not always actual, but my self-doubt will bow to even an imagined applause.

And so I continue to struggle and I continue to fail through lack of action, but I keep coming up with the ideas and I keep trying to actually carry them out because one day, I might actually succeed.

But I doubt it.

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Change and a Haircut

Kiki's red hairNot to be too dramatic about it, but something significant happened after I got all of my hair cut off.

I changed the way I saw myself.

Okay, yeah, duh, of course I would. Having really short hair makes me look different than when I have semi-short hair that I can still pull back into a ponytail. It’s very different from the long hair I had years ago. But the difference I’m talking about goes deeper than just hair length.

The best way I can explain it is like this. I have two shelves that house some of my Cubs memorabilia. On one shelf is a picture of me taken with a friend and a player. Every time I look at that picture, I think to myself, “I’m not that person anymore.”

Of course not. That was two years ago. People change in two years. Hell, people can change in two days. But seeing myself in that picture with my old hairstyle, it’s a physical representation of how I have changed.

The person in that picture was kind of depressed, not very confident, constantly bombarded with negative thoughts. She was insecure, unsure, and feeling pretty weak.

I am not that person anymore.

Photo of a Bad Fan.

Okay, I can still be somewhat negative because I’m pessimistic by nature, but I’m not focusing that negativity on me. I’m using it more as a tool of realism instead. I’m more confident about who I am now, more willing not to feel bad about not living up to society’s ideals.

The girl in that picture gave a lot of lip service to an idea that she was a worthwhile human being just as she was and people needed to accept it because it was their hang-up, not hers, and she really wanted to believe that idea, but couldn’t quite make it.

I’m not that girl anymore. Now I believe what I say. I believe that idea.

Sometimes when I think of myself, see myself in my head, I picture myself with my old hairstyle and I have to correct myself. That girl I used to be didn’t disappear; she lingers. This me grew out of that me and I have no doubt that another version of me will grow out of the me I am now. I am an always evolving thing.

Obviously, the haircut didn’t start that.

It just reminds me of it.

Esteem Problems

esteem“I don’t have low self-esteem. I have low esteem for everyone else.”

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.

Frankenboobies Revenge

Warning! This post contains graphic details of my breast reduction surgery. It’s not for everyone and probably shouldn’t be read while eating anything. Proceed with caution.

 

In August, I wrote about my breast reduction surgery and here I am talking about my boobs again, this time about the negative aspects of my ta-tas.

Negative, you say? How can there be anything bad about boobies?

Well, there can be, and I’ll get to that. But first, I’m going to tell you why I have no trouble talking about my boobs.

When your boobs are as large as mine were, they sort of take on a life of their own. They become their own entity. My chest was large enough that it would knock things over. I’d unintentionally hit people with my boobs because, well, how could I not? They were between me and whatever I was doing. Reaching past someone guaranteed they were going to get some titty on them. Working in close quarters, an elbow to or a hand brushing a boob was common. My friends quickly got used to it.

Breasts that large attract attention. Comments were as common as accidental elbow blows. Men especially were fascinated by them. Of course. Men like boobs and boobs the size of mine are typically reserved for porn as far as they’re concerned. In high school, I had more than one guy ask if they could just feel them. It was less a sexual grope and more a need to satisfy a curiosity about objects that big.

I imagine that they thought what they saw in the bra was what they’d get outside of it. Little did they realize…

They are consequences to have breasts that large. Even breasts that aren’t that big, but grow rapidly end up with stretchmarks. That’s something you don’t see in the movies, porn or otherwise. I’ve got lots of them. They’ve faded with time, but in up close and personal situations , they’re noticeable.

The stretchmarks didn’t go away with my surgery, though with the smaller breasts I can at least be relatively sure that I won’t be getting more of them.

However, the smaller breasts came with a price of their own: scars.

I went into this surgery knowing that there would be scars. I don’t heal quickly and I don’t heal well. Chalk it up to the fair skin or genetics or whatever. It’s been that way since I was a kid. Considering the incision went from under my armpit, around my breast, and ended about half an inch from my breast bone, yeah, there was going to be a scar. It’s widest under my arms where the drain was implanted for my first week of recovery, but for the most part the whole thing has faded.

Due to the size of my breasts, I had to have what’s called a free nipple graft, which made for another incision scar. The surgeon cut up from the bottom of my breast and around my nipple. My nipples were then removed completely so the breast tissue could be removed and the remainder fung shui’d into a more functional and appealing fashion. My nipples were then reattached. The incision scars from this part of the operation have faded some as well.

Now, the risk of doing a free nipple graft is that the surgeon is taking off and then reattaching the nipple, meaning that if the nipple doesn’t get adequate blood supply, the whole thing could die and have to come off. I knew that going in and sure enough, it was a complication I had to deal with.

Before visions of a nippleless boob start bouncing in your head, let me assure you that wasn’t my case. I have both of my nipples, thank you. However, my left one didn’t get quite enough blood supply and the top layer of skin died and sloughed off. To me, it looks like long healed skin after a bad burn, that mottled pink and white, something-significant-happened-here skin. I have been reassured that it doesn’t look that bad, but no one can deny that it’s not a normal look.

My right nipple is fine and looks quite fetching, except for the tiny scar at the top where it pulled away from the skin a little after the stitches were removed.

With all of the scars and stretchmarks, my breasts have a kind of patchwork quality to them. I call them Frankenboobies as they were put together by man. And as glad as I am to have them and have them be this smaller, much more manageable size, I admit that I’m self-conscious about their appearance in the flesh, so to speak.

However, properly displayed in the right bra and shirt combo, they are fantastic and I have no trouble telling people that, too.

After all, if I’m going to talk about my boobs, I’m going to talk about the good and the bad.