November 02nd, 2012

Something happens as adolescence quietly fades away into the stark realities of college and post-college life. As you grow up, you grow confident, or at least you’re expected to. But in reality, the scars of puberty often loom longer than one would assume, sleepily sitting beneath the surface of your new-found adulthood. This is the truth that has come back to haunt me in recent weeks, that just because I’m older, doesn’t mean I’m not still human. Insecurity (in some shape or form) will always be present in my life, and pretending that it’s not there is no help.

Facing your “demons” is something we all have to do at some point. We must confront the things that plague us– our insecurities, shortcomings, and the sneaking suspicion that maybe we are not as good of people as we play ourselves to be. Taking stock of yourself, so to speak, is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a necessity. To be really happy, we must be self-aware. We have to know what makes us happy, what makes us tick, and what we want from this life, so we can begin pursuing a meaningful existence. However, the trouble with our modern society is that it’s puts a premium on perfection. This often keeps us from digging too deep beneath the surface, in fear of uncovering an ugly blemish. And so instead, we keep our heads in the sand, never dealing with the things that keep us down.

Personally, I always thought that if I just acted confident enough, my insecurities would simply go away. You know, the old “fake it ’til you make it” game. To some degree, it worked. Eventually, by acting confident, you realize that there was nothing to be that afraid of in the first place. You can exist as a confident young woman without the world on a path to implode. But faking it is not enough in itself. Fixing the surface of you does nothing for your foundation. If puberty is a gunshot wound, then it must be fixed with much more than a self esteem band-aid.

Growing up was a constant pursuit in creating a delicate balance of emotions. I lived on both sides of the coin. I felt valued for my intelligence and respected by my peers, but simultaneously undesirable and unattractive. I existed as the funny girl, the quippy sidekick to a never-ending stream of beautiful best friends; and to say that feeling didn’t stick with me would be an absolute lie.

We can’t hide who we are or were. So instead of hiding, we have to learn to face ourselves, and decide what we’re really worth. So what can we do? How to we heal wounds that have been covered up for so long?

Take stock. What is it that’s looming beneath the surface of your confidence? What gets to you when you’re at your weakest? We can’t begin to heal ourselves without first taking stock of what’s plaguing us.

Give credit where credit is due. Think about why you’re valuable. Look around you, at your coworkers, friends, and family. How do you bring value to their lives? Give yourself some credit for the gift that you already are.

Look ahead. The greatest gift you could ever give yourself is to heal the parts of you that aren’t already whole. As you continue to confront your demons, look to the future and think of all you can accomplish as a whole, healed woman.

The truth is no one really has it together, and by telling ourselves so, we are simply depriving ourselves of the opportunity to live fuller, happier lives. So dig deep. Take a look around the nooks and crannies of your past that have left you feeling less than worthy, give them what they need to heal, and finally move forward.

Image by Angela Payaban.

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