In the late 80’s, I got asked to a Toad the Wet Sprocket concert by a teenage boy I knew. He had lots of friends who drove, I knew he didn’t just need a ride… especially from someone the age of his mother. But we were friends and I said yes.
He proudly announced that he had found his self-esteem. Is there anything more awkward that a teenage boy who knows he’s awkward?
I remember looking at his bright eyes and the flush in his cheeks. He was brave enough to say it out loud, and as I congratulated him, I also bit my tongue. If he thought self-esteem arrived one day and then that confidence was yours forever, well, I wouldn’t burst that bubble. The world would challenge that soon enough without me.
That boy is 40 now, and I got a card over the holidays with a photo of his kids. They have the same thoughtful look he had back then–sensitive and intelligent. But in the beginning, self-esteem is a roller coaster ride.
Even more so for women–I think the most important relationship in our lives is the one we have with ourselves. This Oscar Wilde quote is right but it’s a soap opera free-for-all of ups and downs along the way.
Then once we finally do get on our own sides, we worry that our confidence might seem prideful or that assertiveness might be mistaken for aggression. It’s a nagging concern that any good trait might be turned against us; that the positive qualities that we respect in men become somehow suspect in women.
We should practice the reverse Golden Rule: Do unto ourselves as we would do unto others. For us animal advocates, it means loving ourselves as much as we love animals. Anybody besides me fall short on that one?
I think the thing I like best about getting older, (and there are lots of things I don’t like,) is that my self-doubt is easier to ignore. It’s still there, like a faded prom dress in the back of the closet. But I don’t pull it out and hack away at myself until I fit into it. Such maturity!
This small thing, this little ignoring behavior, sometimes lets me feel the comfortable freedom of a goat who puts his desire above naysayers; one who would jump on the picnic table and eat the melon salad. More than once. I try to take my cues from the (theoretically) less civilized animals with lower consciousness but I’m not perfect–after all, I’m only human.
One of the themes of my memoir, Stable Relation, is that process of learning to stand up for yourself. Good thing–it seems a requirement for writing and publishing a book as well.
Week 14 in the submission process. Forever; time stands still. No rejections this week. No acceptances either. Silence.
So I carefully direct my attention to some good news. This week, not one, but TWO authors, asked me to contribute my writing to their books. It fluffed up my self-esteem, so I’m just going to show my bottom teeth like Sumo the goat and keep forging on.
Do any animals inspire your confidence?