Friday, January 21, 2011

Cultivating Confidence-Melissa's Story

This is my friend, Melissa, of Preserved Photography.

My name is Melissa.

I am 31 and I still have acne.

When I am a passenger in a car, I have panic attacks. I overreact a lot.

Though I am a mother, I have never given birth to a child. I have very few close friends, intentionally. I am terrified of losing my mother.

I am hilarious (just trust me, it's true). I am talented. I am happy. I am proud.

I am confident.

In third grade, I received my first label. Despite the fact that I was average weight and average height, I was "the fat girl". I never even questioned this new label, I just assumed it was true and I began doing everything in my power to try & change something about myself that wasn't even a problem. It probably won't surprise you to learn that after a few years of this, I actually did develop a weight problem. One that I will probably spend the rest of my life struggling with. I could be bitter about that - I could point the finger at those girls who called me names, pushed me down, and made my life sheer torture at times. I could do all that, but I don't. You know why? Because they were 8 years old. They were kids, just like I was at the time. Now, they are women. Some of whom, coincidentally, have also developed a weight problem. Some of whom I am now very close friends with. Some of whom may even be featured in this series someday.

While I'm putting myself on blast like this, I'll share with you a few of my other big labels in life. Probably the biggest one is "judgmental". If I had a nickel for every time I've been called judgmental, I would probably have at least $5, which may not sound like a lot but if you do the math, that's 100 times. Being referred to 100 times in a negative manner is kind of the pits. Except for this... after the 4th or 5th time someone called me that word, I started to think about what it really meant. Judgmental. To judge someone. Truthfully? It's accurate. I am judgmental. It's a perceived flaw of mine. And I'm ok with that because being judgmental is a defense mechanism for me - it keeps me from getting hurt by other people. Doesn't make it right, necessarily, but it's true. So call me judgmental, I'll wear that label.

Another heavy-hitter in my life is "sarcastic". This one's kind of tricky because it can be interpreted as either a positive or a negative. Generally, I assume people are confusing the word "sarcastic" with the word "cynical" - either way, it probably fits me. I'm kind of a loudmouth with a negative life view and I'm definitely quick-witted. So yea, sarcastic/cynical, whichever you prefer - I'll wear that one, too.

I'm assuming by now (if you haven't fallen asleep) that you kind of get the point... I get labeled. I'm betting you do, too. In fact, I'll give you eleventy billion dollars if you've never ever been labeled by someone (and if you can prove it while simultaneously waiting on me to find eleventy billion dollars). These labels - these words - are hurtful, they are mean and spiteful... and, most importantly, they are usually truthful. Which brings me to the reason why I wanted to be involved in Cultivating Confidence to begin with....

In the coming posts for this project, I hope to introduce you to a few people in my life who I feel can help cultivate confidence in others. I even hope to bring in a few people who need to have some confidence cultivated in themselves and I *hope* that this project can help them with that. The truth is that you ARE your labels. You are your insecurities, your faults, your shortcomings - you are all of this. But that isn't ALL you are. Every single one of us has faults. We all have things that other people see in us as undesireable traits and you know what I say? Learn what yours are. Listen to the people in your life and let them stamp you with those labels... and then? Then, YOU get to decide if those labels are negative or not. You are the one who gets to look at yourself and make the decision about whether or not you're ok with being labeled as too heavy, too nice, too whatever. At the end of the day, you may decide that you are actually ok with being these things and if you are, then BE them. And be the best at them that you can be... be confident about whatever it is that you decide is ok for YOU and when you do that, you'll find that you're happier with yourself - which is all that really matters.

1 comment:

  1. absolutely touching post! thank you Melissa for sharing!!