I find it super hard to trust my judgement about myself. I can’t tell if what I’m worried about is a legit cause for concern, or I’m just making shit up in my head again. I find it very easy to lie to myself, and even easier to tear myself down. Even success feels like failure if you’ve got an active imagination.
So I always have these phrases running through my head - nice little pick-me-ups I like to tell myself to get through the day. “Everyone knows you have no idea how to do your job, Jared. You know you’re the weird one in the friend group, right? People don’t really want to invite out to things because you say dumb shit and never shut up. Also, when are you gonna do something about that weird little ginger face of yours?”
From a young age, I’ve been telling myself these stories. And as I kept repeating them in my head, eventually they become true. I used to always get picked last for every team in primary school (because I was weird, not because I was shit at sports), and the narrative of “I’m shit at sports” led me to never want to join in, and with no practice, I quickly became shit at sports. We don’t shift the lie to represent ourselves more accurately - we shift ourselves to fit in to the lie. It’s easier that way.
Anxiety feels like a lot of things for a lot of people, but for me, it feels like I’m constantly listening to a podcast filled with conspiracy theories about how shit I am, with a few mid-roll ads from ‘no-one-likes-me-incorporated’. Conspiracy theories are fun, and usually just plausible enough to believe, but when you start to believe enough of the dark ones, the world becomes a very dark place.
It’s up to us to break the cycle of negative self talk, to develop a healthier self-image. And it needs to come from inside ourselves, cos if we rely too much on other people to tell us how great we are, one day if they die or something we’re gonna be pretty fucked. If we don’t believe in ourselves, then no one will. After all, we’re the generation that needs to save our dying planet somehow - and if we’re too worried about how we can’t do it, then we probably won’t be able to.
The way I’ve started to see it, is that there’s probably a 50 / 50 chance that my theories about my self-image are true. It’s just as likely that nobody likes me as it is that some people like me. So why buy in the the negative side? How much better would life be if we just started to focus on the positive stories? What if people do like me? What if I’m actually pretty decent at my job? What if some people like my weird little ginger face? How is believing all of this not better?
So, try and give yourself a break every once in a while. You’re doing fine. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone fucks up from time to time. Everyone drops the ball. Our mission is to pick it back up - not begrudgingly, not muttering under our breath about how we failed. You are not your thoughts. And you’re doing a lot better than you think you are.