How do you answer this question? ‘Who are you?’ Do you answer it with a smile and confidently enthuse about your qualities and talents? Or do you hesitate to list your positive traits and feel more comfortable pointing out your shortcomings? How about ‘What do you like?’ Do you respond assertively with a list of your interests and passions? Or do you give a vague idea of generic activities?
The way you reply may well depend on your level of self-confidence and of being able to appreciate your uniqueness.
Everyone is unique. Your individuality goes beyond DNA, gender, heritage or upbringing. It’s the complete package from when you are conceived to the present day that makes you distinct from any other human being. And that’s amazing. Or it should be.
Whilst some people can acknowledge differences in themselves and others with ease, many are consumed with comparing themselves to others. Of course there’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel accepted or to wanting to be a valued as part of a larger group. In balance, that’s a healthy way to live. But comparison and pressure to conform can lead to unrealistic expectations of how you should be living your life and a rejection of your authentic self.
From childhood and then later on as an adolescent, my insecurities about being different led to a long battle with depression and alcoholism. Without a significant female presence in my life, it was the man I knew as my father who had been influential in shaping my self-worth. A psychiatrist once described him as having ‘an authoritarian personality with a Machiavellian personality, and a pure misogynist with sadistic tendencies.’ I represented everything he despised so not surprisingly I ended up hating myself to the point of suicidal self destruct.
As an adult there were no boundaries to how much I disliked myself. I could look at myself in a mirror but I was unable to make sense of the image. I looked like ‘nothing’. Similarly, I felt ‘nothing’. Of course I drank and medicated myself numb, but even when I wasn’t intoxicated I could switch myself off like a light. For those around me, it looked like I was there. But I wasn’t.
One of my biggest challenges to healing was to learn to value myself. It was excruciatingly difficult to even begin to make sense of the person I was, let alone appreciate that being. Gradually though I started to respect my thoughts, my actions, my beliefs. With support and renewed faith I was able to confront my misconceptions of the person that I judged myself to be. The characteristics that had defined me, no longer had meaning or power over me.
The emergence of my unique self continues each day. All I seek is to be the person I was meant to be. For me that’s enough.