I had a great conversation with a friend of mine from high school this week. She and I had been very close friends, but then drifted apart after high school as our lives took us in different directions. We hadn’t talked in a long time (think: decades), and had a lot to catch up on.
Naturally, we begin reminiscing about our time together in high school. I shared with her some of the things that I had been going through during high school. I hadn’t told her when we were in high school, because at that point in my life I was doing my best to “fit in” and be like everyone else…and was worried that if my friends and classmates knew that I was “different” and dealing with some difficult situations that they wouldn’t want to be friends with me.
Now, of course, when I look back at that time with adult eyes and experience, I can see how ridiculous that thought process was. But at the time it felt very real and true to me. Like many teenagers, my self-esteem wasn’t that great and I didn’t have a good perspective of myself. I saw myself as a bit of an outsider, different (not in a good way), and not necessarily part of the group. I struggled with some very real depression and feelings of inadequacy.
When I shared all of this with her, she was completely shocked. She had absolutely no idea what was going on in my life at that time or how I was feeling about myself.
She then told me her perspective of me at that time. She saw me as a happy free spirit that showed a lot of love and compassion to others, and said that she had looked up to me during high school as someone she wanted to be like.
It was an eye-opening conversation for me, and it really hammered home to me how much we put ourselves down. We are so good at making ourselves feel little and invaluable, when in reality other people who know us, and love us, see us perhaps more clearly, and definitely with more love than we have for ourselves.
So here is my question for all of you: how are you distorting your image of yourself? What are you telling yourself about yourself that isn’t true? Pull in a friend or family member that you love dearly and ask them their perspective of you…and then carry that vision of yourself forward. I know that is what I’m going to do – I’d much rather be (and know that I am) a happy free spirit rather than a inadequate outsider!