I was talking to one of my stepsisters, Amelia, last night. She and I were discussing how much we judge ourselves; our mistakes, our thoughts, our looks, our reactions, our everything. This judgment is caused by a number of different things, but a huge part of it is comparing ourselves to everyone around us.
My stepsister is ridiculously talented and creative. She runs this super successful resale shop in Savannah, Georgia. She’s one of those natural beauties who can wear absolutely anything and look like perfection. But, because she has such impeccable taste, she’s always pushing the boundaries and wearing things I’d never even think to put together. And it ALWAYS works. The girl is a freaking goddess.
Because she’s so beautiful, and thin, and has a really cool job, it’s easy to assume she’s super confident all of the time. But, on the contrary, she, like the majority of us, is extremely hard on herself.
She said this girl her age came into the shop in full business attire. She was dressed in some sort of suit situation, like she was someone important. Amelia looked down at her own outfit and suddenly felt super self-conscious about the neon overalls she was wearing.
Her first thought was to judge herself. Her second thought was that she can’t imagine what this “put together” business woman thought of her. Double judgment. Next thing she knew, what had started as comparing her outfits, quickly morphed into comparing careers, lifestyles, looks, etc.
As I was dishing out advice on how she’s entirely too hard on herself, I realized I’m the biggest fucking hypocrite on the planet. Just earlier that day, I had a huge list of things to do while Mickey was at daycare. I got dressed to work out, started a load of laundry, and could not find the energy to get on the bike. Because, I REALLY didn’t want to work out. I wanted to nap, so bad.
After weighing the pros and cons of taking a nap for entirely too long, I finally decided to lie down.
I couldn’t fall asleep. I laid in bed, judging myself. The judgements started with how many things I “should” be doing instead of resting. I started thinking about my friends who work full time and don’t have the luxury of taking a nap in the middle of the day. I then started to feel guilty for being so “lazy.”
My internal argument then switched to justifying all the reasons I “deserved” to take a nap in the middle of the day. I’m six and half months pregnant. My back hurts. I run around a lot. I should just enjoy the fact that I’m childless right now and can rest my eyes.
Needless to say, I had a very dissatisfying nap. I spent so much time and energy judging myself for deciding to rest instead of pushing myself to workout. Because, I want to be perfect. I want to be that mom who drops her kids off at school and gets a million things done.
I punished myself the rest of the day by thinking of all the things I could have gotten done if I hadn’t been so “lazy” that afternoon. I’m not kidding, I felt insanely guilty for sitting down to watch tv around 8:00 pm because I didn’t do enough to “deserve” to sit down.
This quickly spiraled into me obsessively thinking about how I couldn’t afford to skip workouts due to how much weight I’ve gained and how lumpy my ass is. I started zooming in on photos and picking out things I hate about myself. I then opened up the ol’ Instagram app and started looking at how amazing other pregnant women looked. Before I knew it, I felt like absolute shit about myself; like a giant fucking turd, just melting into the couch, in a puddle of fat laziness.
WHAT WAS I DOING?
WHO was putting these expectations on me? Only me.
WHO was judging whether or not I live up to these expectations? Again, only me.
I hadn’t realized how ridiculous I was being to myself until I tried to explain to Amelia how hard she was being on herself. It’s like a lightbulb came on. Who the hell did I think I was telling her to love herself when I just spent the last eight hours shredding down my self-worth to absolutely nothing?
One thing my husband has taught me is that we can’t control what other people think of us. And let me tell you, he is incredibly good at not giving a fuck. He doesn’t feel the need to justify anything to anyone. The man drove around a blue 17 passenger van, with no a/c, and a coffee table as a middle console for years. Think he cared what anyone said about him when he pulled that piece of shit up to the valet at The Capital Grille? Nope.
Despite his friends’ best efforts to persuade him not to, he even picked me up for our first date in that van. And, at the time, it was equipped with an ignition interlock aka an “alcohol blower.” He had to blow into it to get the van to start, then periodically throughout the drive, measuring his blood alcohol level to ensure he was sober.
And you know what he said? This is who I am. She’s either going to like me for me, or she won’t.
Through years of him drilling that into my head, and after spending entirely too much of my life obsessing over what other people thought of me, I finally made the life-altering decision to stop caring as much. Now, there are times I slip. But, for the most part, I genuinely don’t really care if someone thinks I’m living my life correctly. And I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. And that’s okay. Not everyone has to like me.
But, I need to like me.
So I’m not allowing other peoples’ judgments affect me, but I’m allowing my own negative judgments to consume me. So great, I’ve accepted I can’t control what other people think. But I CAN control what I think. So why am I putting up with myself being so nasty to me? I certainly wouldn’t put up with it from an outside source.
I know I’m not alone in this internal narrative. So how do we change our thought patterns and start to treat ourselves the way we’d like to be treated? How do we STOP playing the roles of the judge, the jury, the plaintiff and the defendant of our minds?
It’s time to tell ourselves that court is fucking adjourned.