Original blog from March 2011
I had an interesting thought a while back and yes I do think contrary to popular belief. I was at a tournament watching the women compete, and I thought, “Where do they get their confidence? At what point in their life did they realize there wasn’t anything they couldn’t do?”
Sidebar: I am a blue belt under Relson Gracie and compete in Jiu-Jitsu tournaments in Ohio, Texas, and California.
Most of us before of the age of 7 or so believe we can do anything. That is why children are so talented at everything they try. They’ve never done anything so they don’t realize they cannot do it. Then as they get older something changes and there isn’t that belief they can do anything. So they fall into two groups, the ones who do believe and the ones who don’t.
For many who know me my next statement will be surprising but for a few, it will not: I AM NOT THE MOST CONFIDENT PERSON. I continually doubt my intelligence, my ability on and off the mat and my choices I have made. According to most friends and family, I am very intelligent, I am a skilled jiu-jitsu practitioner, and everyone makes mistakes so deal with it.
But for me, that is not the case. Failure can never be an option and yet when I do make mistakes I breakdown. I feel like the ceiling and walls are closing in on me. There is a pressure within me that will explode any moment, and then it passes, but it happens again and again. And every time it happens my confidence get smaller and smaller.
I know most of this comes from losing the one person who believed I could do anything at a very young age. Once he was gone so was my self-esteem and confidence. It has taken me a long time to get where I am today, and it will take an even longer time to make it to where I want to be. But I’m not alone, thanks to several new friends here in Austin I can be anything and do anything; I just need to believe.
Since 2011 this has been a reoccurring theme in my life, especially since I am now starting my own my freelance writing business; my emotions have been like a roller coaster. Since I lack confidence in my life, I look in amazement at people who are confident and wonder where do they get it. How do we gain it and how we lose it? Since writing my original blog, I’ve come to realize it has everything to do with how we look at ourselves.
I’ve dealt with self-esteem issues for so long I have no idea when it started, but I can say that I’ve always felt I was never as smart, as strong, or as pretty as anyone else. Growing up, I was the bombarded with images of what women should be and how they should look. They were thin and tall, with clear skin and straight blond hair. They all were super smart, super successful, and super outgoing.
And I did the one thing a child should never do. I compared myself to those images. I wasn’t any of that. I was short and fat (Yes! Fat. I was fat. I looked like Violet, from Willy Wonka, when she turned into a giant blueberry and have the stretch marks to prove it). I had curly hair and acne, horrible, horrible acne. I was timid and kept to myself. I got decent grades but nothing worth a scholarship. I couldn’t match up with those images. No matter how hard I tried and withdrew even further.
As I continued through high school and college, I kept to myself, worked hard and tried my best. I wasn’t overly successful and dealt with a lot of, I cannot say if it was criticism but that is how it felt. I can remember one incident in college where I guy refused to work in the team I was on because “he doesn’t work with ugly people.” He didn’t say that to my face. He said it to the teacher who repeated it to me. Honestly, she didn’t have to tell me that and could have lied.
Once I was out of college and able to find a job, I slowly started coming into my own, but I never felt that I was capable. I work for a small family-owned company. They weren’t supportive of anyone being more successful than their own family. Anytime I had a little bit of success I got slammed down. When I wanted to explore different jobs or slide outside the “social norms” my family would not be encouraging. In their mind, it was better to have secure job and money than some degree of happiness. Without a career that I was passionate about or support from my family, I developed depression. Although, it is possible I had always had it but never really identified it until I was adult.
Then I was unemployed with no job opportunities, so I relocated, and arrived in Austin. I found the success I never had in Cleveland, but for some reason, I couldn’t let go of the negative voices or as my freelance coach calls it “toxic goop.” It is sticky and slimy, and no matter how hard you try you cannot get rid of it. That is where I am now. I can list everything I have accomplished, but to me, they are lists of failures. I have written two books, one published and the other is on the trillionth revision. I struggle with completing anything, including this blog. The only thing it seems I’m good at finishing is a jar of peanut butter or a book. I’m serious, most days I cannot even finish a submission when they are giving it to me. I have won gold at Masters Worlds and award my brown belt, and yet most days I leave the mats in tears because I don’t think I’m as good as anyone else.
This lack of confidence has held me back, not only in my personal life but professionally as well. As a teacher, some days I wonder if I’m doing the best for the kids. As a student, I wonder in I’m doing enough to be the best I possibly can be. I have moments when I think, “yes I can do this.” And then I hit a roadblock that leads me to question everything.
I don’t know when or why now, but I hit a wall. It was a wall of ‘no more.’ No more of feeling less than my worth. No more of sitting back and letting others steer my life. No more of listening to others who don’t have my best interests at heart. No more of double guessing myself. Hitting this wall didn’t magically give me the confidence I need but it gave me a little courage to not be afraid to follow my path and accept that failure is part of this process. Failure is a valuable lesson. I might not be successful the first time or the second time, but as long as I continue and not give up, I’m staying true to myself.
I have chosen a challenging career path. I have thrown myself head first into teaching jiu-jitsu and writing. I doubt it will make me monetarily rich, but I know I don’t need money to be happy. At one point, I had it all, money, a house, a job and was the most miserable person on the planet. It wasn’t until I lost everything that I found myself and began to learn what it meant to live. It has taken seven years. Seven long years of doubting my self-worth before coming to the understanding that confidence and happiness go hand in hand.