How many of us are guilty of self-sabotage? Maybe none of you, but I’ll raise my hand. I have a fairly normal, even keel personality until I don’t. This weirdness takes over and I fall into this quiet, hunched over, sad sack that has no confidence. I can’t understand why people like me, and I begin waiting for the moment they will see me for the blah, boring, inept loser that I am. The funny part is that during said waiting, I start becoming that person. I am overly sensitive about everything, I begin thinking everyone is better than me and I roll over and do whatever anyone asks of me. Because I don’t feel worthy.
So let’s rewind a little to help provide some context. (I’m not sure how to type the Wayne’s World noise to show we are going back in time, but that is the sound I am making in my head). I am going to tell a couple stories from my beloved (sarcasm) youth. Yes, the tween/teen years. And for the first story, I have to use a real name for affect because it rhymes with a song.
Once upon a time, there was a boy named Brooks Fain. I was in 6th grade (I think. Forthose of you that remember, you can fact check me.), when this friendship began. Typical 6th grade boy/girl friendship. You tease each other a lot, make fun of each other, border line hate each other. And then somewhere in all of that, you start having a crush on that boy. Then, in the middle of winter, you have your friend call him (back before the days of texting) and ask if he wants to go out with you. His response, “I’m sorry, I have to go mow my lawn”. (Crush defined – the moment a person delivers a crushing blow to your heart).
So what do you do? You hold out hope that maybe he likes you, but he just doesn’t want to admit it. So you try harder. You stop being yourself. You forget the teasing and you become this pathetic puppy dog that hangs on his every word. This kid that you used to crack on every chance you got, you are now following around to do whatever you can to prove you are worthy. As you reach the top of the hill of your complete abandonment of your true self, you decide to plan his going away party at Skateland, inviting the whole class. You take the time to have very clever shirts made that say, “Blame it on Brooks Fain”. (The awaited song reference…Milli Vanilli’s “Blame it on the Rain”. This was before their big scandal broke.) Everyone has a blast, who knows if Brooks even said thank you to me. I know I did not get a couple’s skate out of it. He moved to Wisconsin and I left a heap of my pride right there on the skating rink.
This sabotage also occurs in other ways. I applied for a program in high school, got in, was excited, then started questioning why I got chosen. I started thinking they must have felt sorry for me, that it wasn’t actually because I was the best applicant. (The reason I started thinking this was because I had put in the application that I never get picked for anything.) So what happened this time? I got in my own way. I started thinking I was the pity choice and then of course started acting that way. Quiet, hiding in the corner, getting in my own way. Becoming that person again, and waiting for everyone to stop being so blind and see what I really was. I mean, if they weren’t going to see it, I was going to make sure to show them so they understood I was at most mediocre. Then, since they weren’t getting it, I dropped out of the program.
Recently, I found myself slipping into this mode. That quiet, whisper of a voice when I introduce myself, stumbling over the introduction. Yuck. Seriously, double yuck. I hate it. Waiting for someone to see through me. See that I’m not really funny or smart or talented at anything, nothing special. Just mediocre. Assuming other people around me are so much better than me and I am not worthy. How am I still doing this? I start portraying that side of myself and then that’s what other people start seeing. Because on my very worst day, that’s what I truly believe I am. That confidence, that true understanding of who I am and what I have to offer…GONE. And it takes a total complete conscious effort to remind myself that I am worthy. And then even crazier, if I do tell myself that, I start to feel guilty because it’s almost like I am bragging and that’s not okay right? It’s so much easier and accepted to put ourselves down than to say nice things about ourselves. To say out loud we believe in ourselves.
This week in my boxing class, this woman that everyone looks up to because she is amazingly fit, funny, and energetic, actually pinched a tiny little piece of skin and said she just can’t get rid of it no matter what she does. One day she said to me that she wished she had more of an hourglass shape like me because she was so straight up and down. I looked at her like she was completely insane. She can hold a plank for 8 minutes! Yet, she still has that voice in her head beating herself up and letting the words come out. But, don’t we like her better for it? If she stood there and told us how great of shape she was in or how much she loved her body, would we like her as much? Or would we judge her and think she was full of herself?
How did we get like this? Hopefully it’s okay I am saying “we”. I feel like I am not alone in this. I want to stop this crazy sabotage. Otherwise, I am going to lose out, all because I showed people the sad-little-gross-part of myself that doesn’t believe she is worth any sort of praise or love or friendship or opportunities or success or “fill in blank here”. I am going to try to off that part of me, Tony Soprano style. If she starts to act up, I’ll tell her I need to go mow the lawn, even if it’s winter and all the grass is dead. At least I am going to keep trying to kill her, it’s possible she may just end up blindfolded with duct tape over her mouth. As further punishment, I’ll play yodeling music on replay until she knocks it off. Maybe her and my inner cynic dude can get married and leave me the hell alone. I’ll pay for the wedding.
*Sabo comes from the show New Girl. One of my favorite episodes. If you have never watched New Girl, stop reading this right now and go watch it.