I don’t know about you, but I am exhausted by constantly having to keep up the inner monologue required to maintain my own self-worth. It seems to be a constant uphill struggle.
As a teenager my mom used to be quite harsh with me about this on a fairly regular basis. Her intention was only ever to help me, something which I realised even back then! I can hear her voice in my head even now, in fact I hear it every single day, and let me tell you, that is a good thing.
“Stand up for yourself, my girl.”
“Don’t let people walk all over you.”
“Don’t be a doormat!”
As someone who has been constantly plagued by self-doubt and crippled by her own inability to make a decision for most of her life, which is mostly based on her own lack of self-confidence, to repeat this mantra to myself on a daily basis is sometimes all I have left between standing up for myself and allowing others to walk all over me.
Sometimes I wonder if it’s my own fault that people underestimate me. I’m not into bragging, I’m not into talking about my achievements, and I’m not into the whole ‘people pleasing’ thing either, I’m not into dominating a social setting, and I have a very forgettable face, apparently.
As I child I was terribly shy. Scared of being laughed at, picked on, made to talk in public. I learnt how to master those emotions, and to force myself to push past them, but just because I learnt how to master it, doesn’t mean I don’t still feel it.
A prime example of this is that I still hate walking into a crowded room first, preferring to walk in after my husband not caring a toss if it’s considered better manners for my husband to allow me to walk in first, and it’s got nothing to do with feminism.
I also find it very hard to ask people for money. This is becoming more of an issue as my blog is starting to monetize, and my editing business is taking off. It isn’t a big problem yet but there are more and more opportunities coming along every week, which is great, but there are so many voices in my head that are quite literally exhausting as well:
- “Don’t work for free.”
- “Know your worth.”
- “What is an hour of your time worth?”
- “Don’t let them take advantage of you.”
- “Don’t give away free information.”
- “Bloggers must unite against free advertising.”
I don’t know about you, but it’s all making me very confused and exhausted.
I am working on a small freelance business plan. It’s the first thing I’m excited about for myself in a very long time, and it’s all thanks to the lessons I’ve learnt through my blog, and as a freelance editor, writer and proofreader.
I’m excited about it, I think it could work, but the internal struggle I am having with myself is:
“How do I know if I’m worth it?”
“What if I think I’m worth more than I am?”
“What happens if I fail?”
I’m old enough and mature enough to know that if I don’t try I will never know. That said, I’m also old enough to be more cautious than I would have been ten years ago! Throwing caution to the wind has never really ended well for me!
In the same vein as this, I also have a huge list of things I constantly feel like I have to remember in order to maintain my self-worth as a mother:
- “Just because I don’t work, doesn’t mean my contribution isn’t worthy.”
- “Providing money is not more valuable than time and sacrifice.”
- “Being a SAHM doesn’t mean I’m intellectually inferior to Working Moms.”
- “Just because I don’t have a degree doesn’t mean someone who does is a more ‘worthy’ person than I am.”
- “Just because I spent an hour playing ‘dollies’ with my four year old doesn’t mean I can’t possibly grasp the complex political problems facing the world today.”
With all these things we have to constantly remind ourselves of, all day, every day, at some point am I allowed to be exhausted by it and want to just stop?
Am I allowed to just … be?
Is that in itself another self-doubting deliberation I need to have with myself to once again remind myself that I’m allowed to feel like that?
Am I allowed to admit it all exhausts me?
It does. I am.