I've spent a lot of my life thinking I'm not good enough. I'm sure everyone has a moment where they feel insecure about some aspect in their life, but for me, it was most aspects. Being under five feet tall never really helped, but frankly it wasn't until the eighth grade that any of these insecurities began to rear their ugly heads. Why? Because I began to really care what the boys thought.
To be fair, I was boy crazy from the time I was in 3rd grade. Early on, it wasn't a bad thing. My unrequited love of a certain boy (and every woman who went to grammar school with me knows exactly who that certain blonde haired, blue eyed boy was) led me to become more competitive in everything from academics (I had to beat him in the Spelling Bee and I did) to sports (I joined the boys soccer team and learned how to play and love football) to the arts. In a sense, my enormous crush made me better at most things I tried. I wanted him to notice me and recite love poetry to me (like every normal 9 year old girl desires...right?)
But as we all got older, kids got meaner, especially the boys. Again, I'm the runt of the class and I'm the kid who knows all the answers when the teacher asks. I wasn't annoying about it like some kids (or maybe I was, hard to say), but school was not all that challenging for me early on.
By eighth grade, I found I had to work a lot harder in math, but it was all new (pre-algebra) and I was distracted. There were a group of boys who relentlessly picked on me, led by one in particular who had always been a friend. I liked to think it didn't matter that they mercilessly teased me ALL day long for no reason (I learned later that the ring leader's parents were going through a nasty divorce - why that was my problem, I will never understand, but I was an easy target for his anger, I suppose. The rest of that group of boys were just as^ho*#s.)
Because of the teasing, raising my hand to answer a teacher's questions stopped among other things. Thanks to them I realized I was not pretty enough, certainly not tall enough, not clever enough or cool enough to just be left alone. I mean, the really pretty, cool girls of normal size didn't get picked on and some of them said some really goofy things and acted like complete idiots. No one bothered them. Being the smartest kid in class was getting me no where so I stopped trying so hard. It doesn't matter how smart you are if people are picking on you for your clothes or your size or for just breathing in the wrong direction. And despite how mean these kids were, I still tried to get them to like me, to accept me so they would leave me alone.
Although the mocking stopped by ninth grade (and the ring leader and I went back to being friends), I remained insecure throughout high school. Despite my insecurity, I had a great boyfriend my senior year. So much fun, very cute and he really liked me.
He told me I was pretty and amazing and smart and all the things I believed I wasn't. And I started to believe it, so much so that by the time I got to Rutgers, I recognized my opportunity to be the person I was supposed to be...well, eventually I got there. First I recognized the opportunity to drink a lot of beer on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at fraternity parties and wrecked up my GPA.
But eventually, I found my way among people who didn't know I was teased for being short or smart. They didn't know I wasn't the "pretty girl" in high school. I found boyfriends - lots of them and one in particular whom I ended up marrying.
After working a few years out of college, when I finally got myself into law school, the insecurity bug hit me again: these people were really, really brilliant and I was just not as smart. But I worked hard enough and did well enough to land a good job after graduating. Something weird happened in law school too - suddenly I became a "pretty girl." A close male friend told me I was the girl who was "hot but didn't know it, which makes you really hot." Me? Hot?? All 4'11" of me? Never was the word "hot" used to describe me.
This simple conversation lit something in me. I still remember exactly where I was when he said this to me and what I was wearing. A day that will live in infamy...Because, I cared what the boys thought. Suddenly, I had confidence. I smiled more, became more outgoing in social settings. And as my career in law was met with successes, that confidence grew and grew. I carried myself a little taller.
Now, I am still humble enough and realistic enough to recognize my flaws; don't think I am completely full of myself. I am fully aware of my short-comings (pun intended). I have recently recognized that some things never change: I still care what the boys think. What I deem to be rejection (i.e.: "He's just not that into me") chips away at the security and confidence I finally found as a 30-something adult.
And it's kind of pathetic, right? On paper, I am a successful attorney, writer, mom, business person. I have wonderful friends and a supportive community. What do I have to feel insecure about? Perhaps within that last statement lies the problem. I work very hard for the things I want in life and from that hard work, I have found much success. I've become accustomed to doing well. So when a relationship isn't going the way I hope it will or doesn't work out the way I imagine it should, it shakes me to my core. Maybe this is narcissistic. Maybe it's just silly. Maybe it's normal. I don't know.
If I fail in a professional endeavor, I tell myself "lesson learned," move on to the next project and vow to do better next time. If I fail in a personal/romantic endeavor, suddenly it's because I'm not good enough. "If only I was prettier," "if only I was less needy," "if only I liked the stuff he likes more..." "if only I was funnier..." "maybe I'm not smart enough for him/maybe I'm too smart..." "maybe I'm too sophisticated/maybe I'm not classy enough..."And the list goes on. But then with the personal life set backs, I find myself questioning my competence in every other area of life. Forget just acknowledging flaws, suddenly I am incapable of anything and not good at anything. It's somewhat debilitating.
So what to do, what to do? Well, here's what I am trying to do and it seems to be working: I say to myself "F this s*#t!" But I say the whole F word. One day, I woke up and decided that I wasn't going to allow anyone to have so much power over me that I would feel badly about myself. I can no longer worry about why I wasn't quite good enough for the relationship to work. I can't be troubled by what the boys think anymore.
"F this s*#t" has become my daily mantra in response to many daily setbacks, and clearly, we have answered the question regarding my level of classiness. Try saying it to yourself in a moment of frustration or during a moment of questioning anything from how great your hair looks to how your butt looks in that dress to whether your presentation went over well. I guess it's another way to say "bygones." But it will allow you a moment to breathe and realize that the opinions of others - men or women - are really none of your business.
"F this s*#t!" And then crack open that bottle of Skinny Margaritas and pour it over ice, you sexy beast because you are awesome.
So I may not be pretty enough or tall enough or smart enough or funny enough or independent enough for some people, but in the words of Mama Rose "Some People Ain't Me." I'm the prettiest, tallest, smartest, funniest, coolest, independent-est (not a word, but stick with me, I'm on a roll) Lauren Dawn that I know. In that, I am quite secure.