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I have lousy self esteem. I could go into reasons about it, but I think you guys know me well enough so I won't go to much into specifics, unless asked, which I will definitely clarify if wanted.  Any way, I would like to pose a  question to you guys.  Do you have at least a somewhat high self esteem and what do you do specifically to have a reasonably high self esteem?

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My self esteem goes up and down like one of them roller coaster rides.  Some days I feel invincible and other days I feel worthless.  

Even people with high self esteem have moments, many of them, in which they question their worth or value.  

I can't pretend to have a good answer or know what works, and it's probably different approaches for different types of people.  Maybe your brain is wired that way or there are past experiences that lead to the low self esteem.  Or both.

I try to use my low self esteem to my advantage.  I see a cute girl and think hey this girl won't be interested in me so I'll talk to her because I'm not worried about what she thinks.  I've already made up my mind she doesn't GAF.  So I don't either.  I know it sounds ridiculous and I'm basically tricking myself here because I must be confident enough to talk to her but I'm telling myself that she won't be interested.  

For me, a lot of it is 'fake it till you make it'.

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I go back and forth daily. Literally.

I am not a fan of what is in the mirror. I have been fighting it for as long as I can remember. It started with hating the fact my hair was wavy. As I got older and hit puberty I was desperate to be cool, but all the cool Kids were skinny and had cool hair. I am genetically predisposed to be doughy and have a Jew fro. I’m STILL fighting it.

I know I’m super smart, I know I’m talented and creative, I managed to land my dream career in an insanely competitive field, I’m a good parent, and as I have noted in the relationship thread, I don’t super struggle with getting women to date me. I guess I fall back on reaffirming that stuff.

But at the same time, I have been losing and gaining the same 40 pounds for literally half my life. Today I spent an hour taking pictures of my back and deciding I hate how it looks.

But again— my fav of the girls I am seeing was talking about how aroused she was by my confidence and my thick wrists.

Point being, we can never get how other people see us.

Also, living in LA where beauty standards are absurd is not easy.

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I have stupidly high (and, frankly, likely unwarranted) self-esteem but, ironically, crazy-low self-confidence. I, honestly, don't even know how that works. Actually, a lot of it is imposter syndrome and a crippling fear of failure. And actually maybe more arrogance than self-esteem. 

So like, I don't have the self-confidence to actually put myself out there for ANYTHING even if I logically know I could do it. AND if something forces me to acknowledge my shortcomings, I get really angry and upset because it goes against everything I feel about myself. If that makes any sense?

As long as I'm not looking directly at a photo or video of myself, I feel very attractive, but when I'm forced to see myself as-is, I'm disappointed. Sometimes even walking by a mirror is shocking because I honestly feel like I look good. If I had to re-enter the dating pool, it would probably crush me. The last time I was available, I was waaaaaaaay better looking and in way better shape. Kids and marriage have done me in. Though I've always felt hotter than I really am. 

I also have similar issues surrounding my intelligence and allowing myself to be in situations where it's put to the test (figuratively, not literally because I also know I'm an awesome test-taker, so actual tests are my time to shine). I'm constantly scared that I'm going to slip something up and everyone will think I'm an idiot, but I consider myself hella smart and consider it one of my greatest strengths. 

 

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I either think I’m awesome or hate myself. Seems pretty consistent with what other people have said. I find that I am at my best when I’m doing the most self care, which for me means spending time alone doing things I enjoy, or having good interactions with a very limited number of people. 
 

I just did a weekend retreat by myself in a tiny cabin in the woods. No one to judge, no one to require my time or attention, no opportunities to fail. It was great for me. Work is hit and miss. I both feel like an imposter and like I’m way over qualified for what I’m doing. And both are probably true. But, as someone pointed out a long time ago, if you’re an imposter that means you successfully tricked a bunch of people, which means you’re really good at it!

So, I don’t know exactly, but take care of yourself and do what makes you happy.

I also have a wife who is way hotter than me, so that helps. 

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I'm pretty painfully self-aware. I beat myself up for screw ups and dumb things I said years ago. I know when I screw up and I am harder on myself than anyone.

That said, I also think I'm a pretty highly capable person. Some people at work recognize it, but I've also apparently pissed some people off over the years who intentionally withheld opportunities or held me back. A bunch of those folks recently retired, and it feels like a lot opened up to me. But I've also talked with my manager recently about how I feel like the proverbial pooper scooper because people love to dump shitty work tasks on me because I'm good at getting them done, but it keeps me from progressing and makes it really hard to be strategic when I'm so buried in mindless work. I'm not sure if all working professionals feel like this or if I just got a raw job. There are a bunch of hyper aggressive people in our organization and a lot of educational snobbery, so sometimes I feel inadequate but I think I'm good at cutting through bullshit and figuring out what really needs done instead of the intellectual pissing contests so favored by people in our organization. We so badly need a cultural change and it probably isn't happening for another 10 years because of who holds the power.

I think when you're hyper aware its really hard to bullshit yourself, and it carries with it a certain level of anxiety. I think that this is really only 25% of the population or less. I think most of us here are actually in that category, mostly because of the discussions we have and the fact that we cling to a 20-year old message board to continue those discussions. It takes a certain breed, so to say.

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5 hours ago, Jedigoat said:

I can't pretend to have a good answer or know what works, and it's probably different approaches for different types of people.  Maybe your brain is wired that way or there are past experiences that lead to the low self esteem.  Or both.

...

For me, a lot of it is 'fake it till you make it'.

Well I guess you can say that maybe I am a little bit both when it comes to my low self esteem; maybe that is how I am wired, as well as past experiences.  It seems like all I do is fake being confident at work.  The thing that prompted this in the first place is that I have recently become aware that I am overly self-deprecating and seem to run myself down a lot in jest. I have been taking steps to change my career path, including taking classes, and now that I am getting closer to finishing that goal, I am starting to self-doubt whether I can pull off such a change.  

5 hours ago, Tank said:

I go back and forth daily. Literally.

I am not a fan of what is in the mirror. I have been fighting it for as long as I can remember. It started with hating the fact my hair was wavy. As I got older and hit puberty I was desperate to be cool, but all the cool Kids were skinny and had cool hair. I am genetically predisposed to be doughy and have a Jew fro. I’m STILL fighting it.

I know I’m super smart, I know I’m talented and creative, I managed to land my dream career in an insanely competitive field, I’m a good parent, and as I have noted in the relationship thread, I don’t super struggle with getting women to date me. I guess I fall back on reaffirming that stuff.

But at the same time, I have been losing and gaining the same 40 pounds for literally half my life. Today I spent an hour taking pictures of my back and deciding I hate how it looks.

But again— my fav of the girls I am seeing was talking about how aroused she was by my confidence and my thick wrists.

Point being, we can never get how other people see us.

Also, living in LA where beauty standards are absurd is not easy.

For me, I have also had a weight problem most of my adult life.  I lost a ton of weight, then gained a good deal of it back, thanks to the lockdown and crappy self-control.  Naturally, when I look at myself in the mirror, I feel like a failure with that. I am trying to get back on the program, and making some progress actually, but damn is it frustrating to have to re-lose weight. 

4 hours ago, Cerina said:

I have stupidly high (and, frankly, likely unwarranted) self-esteem but, ironically, crazy-low self-confidence. I, honestly, don't even know how that works. Actually, a lot of it is imposter syndrome and a crippling fear of failure. And actually maybe more arrogance than self-esteem. 

So like, I don't have the self-confidence to actually put myself out there for ANYTHING even if I logically know I could do it. AND if something forces me to acknowledge my shortcomings, I get really angry and upset because it goes against everything I feel about myself. If that makes any sense?

As long as I'm not looking directly at a photo or video of myself, I feel very attractive, but when I'm forced to see myself as-is, I'm disappointed. Sometimes even walking by a mirror is shocking because I honestly feel like I look good. If I had to re-enter the dating pool, it would probably crush me. The last time I was available, I was waaaaaaaay better looking and in way better shape. Kids and marriage have done me in. Though I've always felt hotter than I really am. 

I also have similar issues surrounding my intelligence and allowing myself to be in situations where it's put to the test (figuratively, not literally because I also know I'm an awesome test-taker, so actual tests are my time to shine). I'm constantly scared that I'm going to slip something up and everyone will think I'm an idiot, but I consider myself hella smart and consider it one of my greatest strengths. 

 

The thing with me is I know I am smart in a lot of different areas, and I have done some interesting stuff personally, professionally, or academically over the years, but it still seems like I don't have the self confidence or self esteem that would come with that experience.  And I don't mean in a way of being too humble, if there is such a thing, but in a way that I still have self doubt that shouldn't be there.  Hard to explain, but that is close to what I feel much of the time.  I mean I know one isn't what they do or have done, but our experience does define us to a degree, and my confidence level doesn't match what I have done over the years. 

4 hours ago, Fozzie said:

I either think I’m awesome or hate myself. Seems pretty consistent with what other people have said. I find that I am at my best when I’m doing the most self care, which for me means spending time alone doing things I enjoy, or having good interactions with a very limited number of people. 
 

I just did a weekend retreat by myself in a tiny cabin in the woods. No one to judge, no one to require my time or attention, no opportunities to fail. It was great for me. Work is hit and miss. I both feel like an imposter and like I’m way over qualified for what I’m doing. And both are probably true. But, as someone pointed out a long time ago, if you’re an imposter that means you successfully tricked a bunch of people, which means you’re really good at it!

So, I don’t know exactly, but take care of yourself and do what makes you happy.

I also have a wife who is way hotter than me, so that helps. 

I like this!  I AM an imposter at work, or at least I feel like one.  I constantly have to sound confident because I have to work around tech, and help people with their tech issues. Thing is, a lot of the time I run into something I am not sure about, like yesterday (prompted this thread actually).  Long and short of it is I wasn't sure how to fix an issue and the customer picked up on that lack of confidence and made a comment (not bad, just the fact he knew I wasn't confident bothered me).  That made me question how I must be projecting myself, and made me wonder how others see me as someone without confidence.  

1 hour ago, Destiny Skywalker said:

I'm pretty painfully self-aware. I beat myself up for screw ups and dumb things I said years ago. I know when I screw up and I am harder on myself than anyone.

...

I think when you're hyper aware its really hard to bullshit yourself, and it carries with it a certain level of anxiety. I think that this is really only 25% of the population or less. I think most of us here are actually in that category, mostly because of the discussions we have and the fact that we cling to a 20-year old message board to continue those discussions. It takes a certain breed, so to say.

Being aware of the fact that I have low self esteem and confidence is what makes it all the worse!  I feel hyper aware and it does not matter how many times I try to tell myself to not compare myself to others, it invariably happens anyway.  I've had colleagues that have been promoted and I stay in the trenches, so to speak.  Part of it is I think they were offered opportunities I wasn't offered, some being actively not taking advantage of the opportunities presented because of self-doubt.  I guess I became used to my job position, and  used to the devil I know, so to speak.  

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I know I'm reasonably smart and can do a handful of things. I think I'm better looking/stronger/more capable/more creative than I realize. I'm definitely more confident and have more self esteem in my late 30s than I have at any other period in my life--good lord I'm embarrassed of my teens/20s self, and definitely owe a lot of people a lot of apologies for the stupid shit I did as a result of low self esteem.

That being said, at the same time, I don't think I'm particularly smart or good at anything. Maybe yelling. I'm a lot louder than I realize I am.

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My low self esteem is mostly profession oriented. Impostor syndrome and typical artist guilt/self loathing hating my own work stuff. 

Other personal type issues I think I've worked through for the most part. Still have some body image esteem issues but fuck who doesn't. We live in a world where that is the norm for most people. Even smoking hot people with abs feel shit about themselves. It's why they try so hard to keep their abs.

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I am confident in my ability to provide a stable environment that facilitates love, creativity, growth, and happiness. I am confident in my ability to listen and to learn. I am confident in my intimate prowess, at least in regards to the one person I have been with for my life. I am confident in my moral compass, my ability to compromise, and find balance in grey areas. However I think my art sucks, my face is dumb, my voice is annoying, and my body is bleh.

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18 hours ago, Tank said:

Today I spent an hour taking pictures of my back

y tho?

 

I hate myself, so I'm not the person to turn to for advice here.

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Cause I caught an angle in the mirror I didn’t like and thought it was the fault of said angle, and photos might disprove what I saw.

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I think us nerds all follow a similar MO.  Growing up we all struggled with that duality of having above average intelligence, something that is generally praised as a society, yet contrasted with a relatively low social standing in adolescence.  A lot of it, I think for me, was rooted in the promotion of a fixed mindset.  My family constantly praised me for being smart, even if what I did was mediocre at best.  I believed if I was successful at something, it was because I was smart.  I didn't understand it was actually the work I put in.  For example, I thought I won a Science Olympiad competition because I was smart...not because I was obsessed with astronomy and read about it endlessly.  I played division 2 soccer in college, but I thought it was because I was a natural athlete (LMFAO) not because I was obsessed and played every chance I got, including hanging out at the indoor fields every weekend asking every team if they needed extra players . 

After undergrad, once I wasn't judged on my ability to take a test or kick a ball, I would go to a job interview and expect to do well because I thought I was smart.  I wouldn't prepare and likely came across arrogant (because I was).  When I didn't get a job, I thought the people that interviewed me weren't smart enough to see my brilliance. 

It took me into my mid-20s to realize the problem was me and it took till my mid-30s to fully live and embrace it.  I accepted I didn't know as much I thought I did and committed to growing as a person.  I started taking responsibility for my failures and viewed them as an opportunity to improve rather than blaming others. 

I have a relatively strong self-esteem, but I have body image issues and imposter syndrome.  I think that at some level this is healthy.  If I thought I was perfect and had all the answers, I would cease being good at what I do. 

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I think I was lucky in that respect. I knew I was smart and my parents supported me and told me I could do anything I wanted, but I came from one of those Midwest families that were super involved in the community and had a really strong work ethic. I think it was high school when I realized a lot of smart people thought that just being smart was enough and it didn't mean they had to work hard, knowing they were smart was good enough. I even dated a guy like that who always talked about how his SAT scores were so great but was surprised when he didn't get in to his dream college in his chosen major. I got in for my major and suddenly it was affirmative action and I only got into the engineering program because I was a girl. No, it was because I worked my ass off and had a much better GPA and still decent SAT scores. I declined the spot at the university to go to a smaller school that I knew was a better fit, he tried general engineering and failed out. He always told me that I would've failed out too if I stuck around but I know I wouldn't have because I wouldn't have skipped class or gotten drunk constantly. But I picked the school that was better for me instead of the big name. (I also clearly upgraded in the boyfriend department.)

Hustle matters, for sure. But I'm pretty fascinated now with how praising kids for being smart actually backfires most of the time. That was pretty mind-blowing for me.

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14 hours ago, Destiny Skywalker said:

I think I was lucky in that respect. I knew I was smart and my parents supported me and told me I could do anything I wanted, but I came from one of those Midwest families that were super involved in the community and had a really strong work ethic. I think it was high school when I realized a lot of smart people thought that just being smart was enough and it didn't mean they had to work hard, knowing they were smart was good enough. I even dated a guy like that who always talked about how his SAT scores were so great but was surprised when he didn't get in to his dream college in his chosen major. I got in for my major and suddenly it was affirmative action and I only got into the engineering program because I was a girl. No, it was because I worked my ass off and had a much better GPA and still decent SAT scores. I declined the spot at the university to go to a smaller school that I knew was a better fit, he tried general engineering and failed out. He always told me that I would've failed out too if I stuck around but I know I wouldn't have because I wouldn't have skipped class or gotten drunk constantly. But I picked the school that was better for me instead of the big name. (I also clearly upgraded in the boyfriend department.)

Hustle matters, for sure. But I'm pretty fascinated now with how praising kids for being smart actually backfires most of the time. That was pretty mind-blowing for me.

Look up Carol Dweck.  She has done a lot of interesting research, particularly around gender and STEM, of not just students but professors of STEM subjects and their mindset towards female students. 

I think a lot of criticisms of Growth Mindset are misguided.  Of course genetics matter.  I am never going to play in the NBA or be an astronaut regardless of how hard I work.  What she argues is that we all have the capacity to grow; I may not ever be in the NBA, but I can become better at basketball. 

At the same time, the impact of systematic prejudices on opportunity must be acknowledged.  We can't say, "they didn't get X because they didn't work hard enough" when race, gender, religious beliefs, etc played a part in the decision making process.  There needs to be a balance of recognizing the importance of an individual's hard work AND systemic gatekeeping.  It isn't all one or the other. 

 

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It’s my life goal to help my kids feel as confident as Jeff Goldblum. It’s the reason I let them run around in the rain with lit flares.

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7 hours ago, Hobbes said:

I think a lot of criticisms of Growth Mindset are misguided.  Of course genetics matter.  I am never going to play in the NBA or be an astronaut regardless of how hard I work.  What she argues is that we all have the capacity to grow; I may not ever be in the NBA, but I can become better at basketball. 

I think growth mindset will definitely get you somewhere, even if it's not to the top. I started soccer very late, age 13. But I progressed enough in one year because I fell in love with the sport that I was playing select a year later, and varsity for 3 years (freshman year was largely a political situation I found out later). I always had a ball at my feet and would practice crazy moves in the living room until I had them down. I was not the best player on the team ever, but I had very high soccer IQ, and the aforementioned work ethic. When I got to college, I was the only woman playing in the intramural league. Then, I had an opportunity to play for the brand new women's team my senior year, and I jumped at it. Ultimately, I realized that the best player on my team played my position (Attacking Central Midfielder, which is a huge position on any team and a big  cog in most teams), and she was a Div 1 NCAA starter who transferred to our crappy college because she was homesick. I was surrounded by freshman girls who were fresh off of playing year-round at competitive or ODP levels, and I was 3 years out of shape. But the coach begged me not to quit because I was the locker room captain. I refused to quit in terrible drills designed to punish us, and I worked harder than every single freshman, who took it for granted that they would start because they knew they were better. Looking back, quitting is actually one of my biggest regrets in college. I really wish I had asked to just be a practice player and only suit up for home games. At the time, a 2-hour bus ride plus sitting on the bench for a 90-minute game and then a drive back sounded like a giant waste of my time for a senior in Aerospace Engineering (and yes, it would've been). But I think I could've stayed fit with the team and offered a lot of leadership to those freshman girls. I just didn't have the guts to ask. Looking back, I think she would've gone for it (but coach was a little crazy, so there was definitely a reason I didn't want to ask). I like to say I had the heart to play at a college or pro level, but not the skill. That growth mindset got me a lot further than it probably should have.

And because Ender will appreciate it, I would totally eat shit if I tried a spin move today. Hope that mental image makes you laugh.

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21 hours ago, Destiny Skywalker said:

I think I was lucky in that respect. I knew I was smart and my parents supported me and told me I could do anything I wanted, but I came from one of those Midwest families that were super involved in the community and had a really strong work ethic. I think it was high school when I realized a lot of smart people thought that just being smart was enough and it didn't mean they had to work hard, knowing they were smart was good enough. I even dated a guy like that who always talked about how his SAT scores were so great but was surprised when he didn't get in to his dream college in his chosen major. I got in for my major and suddenly it was affirmative action and I only got into the engineering program because I was a girl. No, it was because I worked my ass off and had a much better GPA and still decent SAT scores. I declined the spot at the university to go to a smaller school that I knew was a better fit, he tried general engineering and failed out. He always told me that I would've failed out too if I stuck around but I know I wouldn't have because I wouldn't have skipped class or gotten drunk constantly. But I picked the school that was better for me instead of the big name. (I also clearly upgraded in the boyfriend department.)

Hustle matters, for sure. But I'm pretty fascinated now with how praising kids for being smart actually backfires most of the time. That was pretty mind-blowing for me.

I am totally your ex. But less douchey about it, I think. Growing up I never had anything even remotely resembling a work ethic. As far as I was concerned, I didn't need one. I could put in a fraction of the effort or no effort at all and still outperform my peers a good portion of the time. So what would have been the point of doing more? Eventually I stopped putting ANY effort into school at all. When your entire identity is built around being the "smart one", the fear of losing that title becomes the fear of losing your whole self. I stopped doing the work so I could maintain that failing grades or poor performance was something that I chose, instead of a reflection of who I was. Because if I tried and failed, I was truly a failure and therefore nothing. But if I didn't try, that was my choice and no reflection on my intelligence or person. I really felt deep down that if I had to work at something, that meant I wasn't actually as smart as I'd always been told, because I'd never had to work to be considered smart. 

As an adult, this mindset has been kicking my ass up and down and backwards and inside out for literally decades now. And it's incredibly hard to overcome and free myself from it. I'm nowhere close, tbh, but at least now I'm aware of it. So there's that. 

Many years ago, right before we pulled Noah to homeschool, we attended a conference for the Texas Association for the Gifted &Talented where I heard Lisa Van Gemert, the Gifted Guru, give a presentation on Carol Dweck's mindset research, and it literally changed my life. It was like getting glasses for the first time. It was like I finally was starting to find answers for what was "wrong with me" for all of those years. It was one of the main catalysts for why we chose to homeschool Noah. 

Also, this blog has been giving me life for years now. Some of you may also find it fascinating and helpful. https://rainforestmind.wordpress.com/2017/01/13/if-im-so-smart-why-do-i-feel-like-a-failure/

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've dealt with this kind of stuff for forever.

Most of it stems from a lousy childhood.  Home was fine enough at the time, but I was in a really terrible school situation up until the ninth grade.  The place I went to was kind of a magnet school for all the kids that got expelled everywhere else, so it was a combination of them and the biggest overachievers ever.  Add that to the fact that kids that age are just ***holes in general, and it was a perfect storm of mental torture.  Years of that warps your brain into having the worst conceptions of yourself.  When my parents split right after I moved out of the house, it kind of locked in a lot of things psychologically for me.  I thought for years I at least had a good home life, but it was tough to not see it as some sort of facade after the fact.

These days, I should feel confident because I'm lucky to be in a pretty good spot.  But often times I don't feel that confidence.  I often don't feel like I'm good looking enough, that I'm slowly aging out of relevance, often have some sort of imposter syndrome going on, or any other vague range of insecurities.  Just when you start to feel good about yourself, you remember some past incident or past voice that has a compelling reason as to why you shouldn't.  I've gone to many therapists over the years which have sometimes given me odd ways of trying to retrain my brain on some of this stuff.  It helps to a degree, but I think I've come to conclude that even the most trendy therapeutic methods can only do so much when you had so many things happen as a young person.  Some scars just don't go away, no matter how much makeup you put on it.

It takes continual work, and sometimes it takes a little convincing yourself.  It's work that never really ends either.

 

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3 hours ago, D-Ray Kenobi said:

I've dealt with this kind of stuff for forever.

Most of it stems from a lousy childhood.  Home was fine enough at the time, but I was in a really terrible school situation up until the ninth grade.  The place I went to was kind of a magnet school for all the kids that got expelled everywhere else, so it was a combination of them and the biggest overachievers ever.  Add that to the fact that kids that age are just ***holes in general, and it was a perfect storm of mental torture.  Years of that warps your brain into having the worst conceptions of yourself.  When my parents split right after I moved out of the house, it kind of locked in a lot of things psychologically for me.  I thought for years I at least had a good home life, but it was tough to not see it as some sort of facade after the fact.

These days, I should feel confident because I'm lucky to be in a pretty good spot.  But often times I don't feel that confidence.  I often don't feel like I'm good looking enough, that I'm slowly aging out of relevance, often have some sort of imposter syndrome going on, or any other vague range of insecurities.  Just when you start to feel good about yourself, you remember some past incident or past voice that has a compelling reason as to why you shouldn't.  I've gone to many therapists over the years which have sometimes given me odd ways of trying to retrain my brain on some of this stuff.  It helps to a degree, but I think I've come to conclude that even the most trendy therapeutic methods can only do so much when you had so many things happen as a young person.  Some scars just don't go away, no matter how much makeup you put on it.

It takes continual work, and sometimes it takes a little convincing yourself.  It's work that never really ends either.

 

Yeah...I get that...sort of fake it till you make it with confidence. 

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