At Southern Hibearnation’s Underbear party last year, a friend I’ve spoken to more on Facebook than in real life said to Darren and I that what he liked most about us was our happiness at just being ourselves.
They were kind words from a great bloke – but for me, they were somewhat inaccurate.
Recently, this post, You are Important, has been doing the rounds, and a few close friends have taken pains to point out that the post may as well have been written to me.
It’s one thing to read something either waspish or humorously catty describing your flaws – the first, you can just shrug off, the second you can laugh at and sheepishly ignore. But said with such fierce passion as You are Important, it’s a little more confronting.
I’ve spent most of my adult life either apologising for my presence, or wondering when I should.
I’ve spent most of my adult life questioning my self worth.
When I was seeing a psychologist last year I put it down to a combination of various emotional issues and an unhealthy dose of impostor syndrome. The emotional issues weren’t solved overnight of course, but since my last session wrapped up, I’ve made big progress on those fronts. Not perfect, but substantial. And ongoing. To a degree I’ve made improvements on the impostor syndrome, but nowhere near as much as I would have liked.
The problem of course is that it’s a symptom, not a cause.
The root – symptom, at least – is self loathing.
It’s doubtful that’s a cause. It may be a cause of impostor syndrome, but in and of itself it’s not an actual cause. Somewhere, lurking along in the id, or the deep subconscious, however you want to envisage it, is a reason for the self loathing.
I spent much of the weekend in that state. It’s a confoundingly odd scenario – not really a state of being down, or depressed, just considerable dislike of oneself.
The odd thing is, it gives me a strong sense of independence – I’m totally uninterested in whether most people think good or ill of me for the simple reason that it’s usually my own opinion that ends up holding sway there. If I’m not going through a bout of self-loathing, I care not a whit if others disapprove or dislike what I’m doing (or me). If I am … then it still doesn’t matter what they think, because I guarantee I think worse of myself in those times.
Well, until it’s a social situation – then it manages to stir up all sorts of social anxieties.
Self doubt, self loathing, they really mess you up. The saying, “Depression lies” is so completely and utterly true, yet so infinitely incomplete. The same can be said of social anxiety, of self doubt, of self loathing, and a myriad of other negative sensations that come from within.
As always, the first step to solving a problem that comes from within is recognising what it is. Perhaps what I needed most was to read You Are Important to finally make that connection.
So, regardless if you mind or not, I’m going to try to stop saying “sorry” so much in future.