Being able to see the good in myself was fairly high up on the Wants list. I am happy to say I have made progress there.
I am less happy to admit that I am not sure how it happened. I don't really remember working on it.
There have been two areas where I have noticed it. The more general one is that when I have failed to live up to my expectations and start beating myself up mentally, I have to stop; no I am not really stupid and a bad person. There are obstacles that aren't my fault. There are things that I do right. It's not that I don't still want to improve, but I am not a monster. Honestly, I'm not sure that vicious self-recrimination was ever particularly effective.
Also, a few weeks ago I had posted the What are you asking blog post, and I knew I needed to give some credit to Sid (the college friend I mention in it). I tagged him and he responded...
"Thank *you*, Gina! It's so flattering you would associate me with such an insightful piece. Thanks for years of friendship!"
My first thought was that it wasn't that insightful, but I hedged on my hedging. If he thought so, maybe it was.
We have been down this road before, where I think all the people I hung out with in college were so amazing, and then they say things back that sound as if I was also amazing. It becomes this very warm and grateful moment, but there has always been this question about whether they even remember how annoying I was. I mean, I was, right?
That has been part of a larger pattern where I have had great associations through school and church and neighborhoods, with people who seem to enjoy my company and appreciate me. Despite all the many kindnesses, I have always felt on some level that they were just being nice.
- Yeah, but they would do that for anyone.
- Yeah, but they don't know how I get sometimes.
Yeah, I am starting to see it doesn't work that way.
I do not know why I am feeling the difference now, rather than only trying to come at it mentally.
I know that I recently went through a round of checking on people who I have known to be at risk. Usually I just respond to things that I see, but sometimes I am more proactive, just in case. There were some good exchanges, and some people are doing a lot better. That would be affirming anyway, but I have read that when you attempt to build someone else's self-esteem up, yours gets built up as well. That could have had an effect.
Also, if my focus has been more on my weaknesses, it has been in more productive ways, with a focus on scrupulous honesty. Maybe I am just open to seeing everything now, good and bad.
Maybe it matters that the selfies helped me get over some of the rough areas with my personal appearance.
Otherwise, perhaps I should just view it as a miracle. I know my weaknesses, but they do not exclusively define me.
I am smart and caring and loyal and tenacious. I am strong. If I am not always successful in being good, I am nonetheless committed to being good, and for good reasons.
Sometimes things work out.