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How many of you suffer from lack of self-worth? How many of us play the blame game when it comes to our performance? In short, how often do you fall prey to the impostor syndrome?
Impostor syndrome is a belief that negates the self. It’s the belief that you are not good enough and everything you’ve achieved is through a stroke of luck. In short, you honestly believe that you are inadequate and a complete failure.
Perfectionists and Type A personalities are particularly prone to this (check the first one in the link above). I’ve mostly tried to steer clear of the perfectionist trap, but it’s tough. Some days you fall into it no matter how hard you try otherwise.
Parenting is especially hard when you’re bombarded by so many expectations at once. Most of these are self-created, by the way. Some of them are helped along by what we see around us. So you can either get completely overwhelmed and exhaust yourself, like I outlined in my confessions post. Or, you can write down a list of positive self-affirmations and tack them up somewhere to read on a daily basis.
The first is easy. The second, to be honest, is very difficult for most people.
People are far more likely to find out what’s wrong with themselves and brood on it than think of the positives. It’s why they fall into the victim mentality and from there, the impostor syndrome is a few treacherous steps away.
Most people who know me, either personally or through the blog, would say that I’m a positive person. I am, most of the time. But I have these spells of self-doubt. I look at my self-worth on the days when I don’t have it all together and wonder if I’m just screwing up my kid, big time. Last week was particularly bad. I’d just found myself in this slump as a parent and was ticking off all the ways that I was failing at it.
*Not something I would recommend on any day, especially on a day when you’ve been sleep deprived and exhausted to the bone.
Then, something happened. Something that would change my perspective on who I was and what I was worth.
[bctt tweet=”How a school assignment taught me a lesson in self worth. #Lifelessons ” username=”shyvish”]
Gy was assigned a topic to speak on, as part of a school assignment. It was titled ‘My mother; my inspiration.’ While this greatly warmed the cockles of my heart, it also threw me into a mild panic.
What could I say about myself that wouldn’t come off as self-serving, boastful or hypocritical? How could I help her without sounding patronising or worse?
There was only one way to find out. Taking a deep breath, I opened the conversation on the subject with her.
She sat there, pencil poised over a notepad and asked, ‘Amma, how do you inspire me? You have to tell me. I don’t know, you see. I’m at school all day.’
‘You know how you read about a famous person or a visionary?’
‘Precisely! So, Gandhi inspired many people through his non-violence, the civil disobedience movement, his affinity to truth and more.’
She screwed up her eyebrows. ‘Hmm. But you’re not Gandhi. I mean, you haven’t done any of those things.’
Okay, this was not off to a good start! And it certainly wasn’t helping my feeling of inadequacy. So I asked her to write down things about me that she liked.
‘Can you help me?’
‘It’s supposed to be what you like about me. Go on and try.’
She started writing a few things and then went in search of her ally, her dad, to help her out with pointers. Fifteen minutes passed and she came back, eyes shining, saying, ‘I think I’ve got it. But I have a doubt.’
‘Sure. What do you need?’
‘Well, Appa says you have a great sense of humour. Is that true?’
‘Er. . .’
‘Tell me a joke. Now. So I can decide.’
‘It doesn’t work that way. I need . . . time.’
She raised an eyebrow, made a note in her book and walked off to draft her speech. Dang it! Now I didn’t even know what to expect. Shrugging, I turned back to my Kindle, reading a book about a man who was particularly curmudgeonly. For some reason, I could relate to his angst on that day! (A book I highly recommend, by the way).
The speech was supposed to last a minute and a half, so she brought back 2 pages of text. I was surprised that there was so much, considering there was nothing half an hour ago. As I glanced at the notes, my eye fell on the highlights my husband had listed on the top of the page in his classic, signature scrawl.
- Excellent blogger and editor.
- Love and passion for the English language.
- Never loses her calm with you. Self-control is admirable.
- Great sense of humour.
- Always helpful towards others.
Gy had taken each of these points and expanded on them in her speech. It made me tear up. As awkward as it was to sit there and hear ‘My mother inspires me to . . .’, it did make me feel all warm inside.
After she’d taken my tips on delivery and grammar, I sat there, looking at the highlights again. In his own way, quiet and unassuming as it was, V had shown me and Gy the importance of self-worth. If people who love you think these things about you, then isn’t it equally important that you believe them too?
It was a reminder that we may think the worst of ourselves, but the truth is completely different. We touch people in ways we don’t even realise. We share truths about their character, sometimes thanks to a school assignment. We express our love for one another, not in overt, obvious ways but in scribbled notes that touch upon our strengths.
It’s also a reminder that, as women, we need to talk about ourselves better. We must celebrate our strengths, play up our positives and be an example for the kids we raise. We must focus on the things we do well and enjoy the happiness that comes from a job well done. We can’t be superwomen, but we can feel pride at what we’re good at.
Affirmations are powerful things. We just don’t know it. One simple assignment proved that my impostor syndrome wasn’t necessary. Self-worth is a critical fragment of our personalities. Let’s not let anything take that away from us.