How does one acquire confidence, when their biggest critic is the one that birthed and raised them? It’s tough! How do you learn to be proud of yourself, encourage yourself, love yourself in and out, when the criticism out weighed the praise? Chile… even tougher! How does one make it through life being so unsure of themselves? You can, life will happen to you though, rather than setting your own course.
My dad loathed that I was (still am) fat. I plumped in grade school. Wanted PB&J’s in my lunch, rather than turkey sandwiches, and my affinity for eating out developed due to not liking what was cooked at home (this still plagues me, whew). Like most kids I was forced to sit and finish my cabbage, but anytime I could get Burger King or White Castle, I was there (especially when I was with mom)! Most things I did wrong, my dad blamed it on me being fat. If I fell, it was the fat. Got sick… the fat’s fault. Got teased at school… my fault, for being fat. I remember he tried to sign me up for this pee-wee football league, which I didn’t want to do at all. Thankfully, I was too fat for my age category (yea, fat) and couldn’t do it. I was pleased, he was pissed. My lack of interest in anything sports related, was not met with elation. Eventually, I was signed up for Karate lessons, which I grew to enjoy (have my Black belt, so don’t try it), but if I lost a sparring match; that’s right, it was the fat!
Body positivity was not a phrase that was heard of back then, at least not for me. Being fat was just a straight up negative characteristic. My body I never really loved, never was quite comfortable in my own skin. To this day I still struggle with feeling secure in my size, love handles, man-boobs, some saggy skin, and big back. I’m getting there though. As you can imagine, the negative self-talk started early for me. I never wanted to draw too much attention to myself, fearing the first thing out of someone’s mouth would be how fat I was. That kept me from expressing myself, participating in some activities, and had playing small as to not take up too much space figuratively and literally.
The two things that did give me a bit of confidence was that fact that I was a tad smart and being talented enough to learn musical instruments. Though not a straight A student, I did well enough to consistently make the honor roll and be inducted into the National Junior Honor Society in middle school. I started playing the clarinet in grade school, then transitioned to the tenor sax in middle school, playing it throughout high school. I participated in a few solo competitions and placed well. The praise from teachers let me know I was doing something right, and gave me a boost. Kept the parents pleased which gave a little boost as well. The only thing with that, is it kind of led to lookin for my confidence through compliments from others, which led to trying to be pleasing to others or trying to prove them wrong if they doubted me. Yes praise and acknowledgment from others feels good, but there she be a level of self-confidence within, that is not based on others. I lacked that for a while.
I do not want this to sound like a complete sob story, and again my childhood was not one of tragedy and trauma. I’m just covering some developmental items that have had long lasting effects on how I’ve navigated through life. First communication (see previous post), now confidence, next, I’ll share how anxiety ties in to all of this.