Trigger Warning: This article contains raw, sensitive, negative self-talk, as well as mentions of suicidal ideation.
The title says it all, and to whomever that’s reading this, if you’re the everyday introvert, the socially-awkward-in-any-social-situation, the girl with the infinitely low self-esteem, I’m 100% sure that you’re feeling the way I feel right now.
Defeated by life, that’s how I’m feeling. At 3AM in the morning, I am expecting to feel loved by life and its entities, but instead I feel defeated.
In the family setting, today I’ve just been blamed for something that I was not the cause of. I have been blamed just because I was at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and somehow – in some ironic way – I was the perfectly right person to pin the blame on.
Just yesterday, I was invited out to a dinner by one of my friends, to join mutual friends for a small gathering. As my socially awkward self, I laughed way more than I spoke. I stared absently into nothing (although this was also due to exhaustion) more than I looked at the person across the table from me.
Nonetheless, it was a perfect night out, and I had fun. We were all friends. We would all talk. Nothing could go wrong, right? Wrong.
I opened up my Twitter tonight, just to see that the world going on around me is just fine without me. The people I genuinely care about are once again starting conversations that never, ever, ever, include me. They are sharing thoughts that never once said, “Oh, I’m so happy for you! Look at what you’ve accomplished,” even after I’ve just done the most daunting thing I’ve ever faced in my life, and all I wanted was a warm pat on the back.
One person that I ate dinner with yesterday night, that I have spent the past 4 months face to face with, has decided that my best friend tweeting about trash music choices is more important or interesting than anything I have written in the past one year.
Another one of my close friends has just sub-tweeted an adverse, not-so-happy reaction to an accomplishment in my life, a milestone that I’ve finally managed to cross. Instead of being happy for me, she is more upset than glad, because why did I deserve this accomplishment and she didn’t? Why did I reach my goal faster than her?
And at this point of time, 3AM in the morning, this is about the time when my paranoid thoughts start bashing through the floodgates of my subconscious. All these subconscious thoughts of self-worth become very conscious ones instead, and these are thoughts I can’t escape.
At 3AM in the morning, I am wondering: Am I too socially awkward? Should I not have laughed so much? Is it wrong to try and make myself feel more comfortable by laughing? Do people not like me because I’m such an introvert? Am I a show off? Do I come off as uninterested to others because I stare absently, or because I’m too afraid to form sentences or replies? Am I that disappointing? Do I not deserve my accomplishments? Is it wrong to have accomplished something in life? Is it wrong to crave validation from the people I care about? Is it wrong to expect the people I care about, to care for me just as equally too?
Am I that bad of a daughter? Am I that bad of a friend? Am I that bad of a person?
Am I that bad at being a human being, just like the rest of us? Do I really mean nothing to anyone? Am I really that fucking worthless?
I can honestly say that I think I suck. I think too much about what has already been said and done. I think too much about where I’ve been in life, and whether people care about where I’ve been.
I am insecure. I need constant validation. I need my wingmen to tell me, you look fine. It’s okay to wear slippers instead of shoes. No, being quiet doesn’t make you seem uninterested.
My self-esteem is at an all-time low. I sometimes stay up in the middle of the night, the floodgates to my toxic thoughts cranked wide open. In this year alone, I have missed more classes just because I hate being in a social setting.
I am sometimes depressed. It is sometimes so hard to leave my bed or room, because the feeling of being alone and rotting alone seems like the better choice for everyone. I have missed classes just because of that. I often feel a profound sadness about the way that I am, and the way I always think that I seem to cause people to repel away from me, even though it is far from true. This is just an implication of my toxic, self-degrading, damaging thoughts.
I am not a social pariah. I am not antisocial. My thoughts and my circumstances are not the product of bullying or emotional abuse from my friends or family. I have never been teased (not that I know of) about my preference for silence over engagement. I am the girl that everyone is amazed by for speaking less than a hundred words in one schooling semester. I am the girl whom many have heard more laughs than words.
They are more than welcome to engage me, and I am more than welcome to respond to them, but it takes two hands to clap and it doesn’t work if either doesn’t participate. And sometimes, either of us think it’s easier to just ignore it than to enforce it.
And then I get mad at myself, because why am I so darn unconfident to make it happen? Am I the cause of my own downfall? Is this a self-fulfilling prophecy that I’ve been stuck in for almost my entire life?
Let the cycle of questioning, and hating, and depression and feelings of worthlessness repeat.
And sometimes I feel that I am better off dead.
I dream of curing all of my temporary problems with a permanent solution. I dream of being bludgeoned to death in a dark alleyway, I dream of swallowing 30 pills and slipping painfully away in a rather peaceful overdose, because I have absolutely no faith that anyone will bother to find me before I’m dead.
And the moment I let myself feel this way, warning sirens go off in me. And this is why whatever that I tell you next will be the most important thing you’ve ever read or heard. This is the crux of this article. This is my entire life’s experiences and findings and understandings, summarized in a short sentence.
I don’t love myself.
No matter how happy I am at some points in my life, if I can still question my worth in my periods of peak, it means that I do not love myself.
If I need validation from my friends and family, and feel empty when I’m without it, it means that I do not love myself.
If I’m thinking about everything I’ve ever said or done, be it 1 hour back or 1 year ago, it means that I do not love myself.
If I feel depressed and even reach the point of suicidal ideation, and I have no faith that people I care about will bother to catch me before I fall, it means that I do not love myself.
Every single cause and effect, every single bad thought that I’ve ever had, has all been a result of not loving myself.
I have not loved myself for years. I am bewildered by the self-confidence of those around me. I pick at every single one of my flaws. I talk too soft, I’m too nice, I’m too aloof, my nose is too big to suit my mouth, my face is bumpy all over, I am 15kg too heavy for my liking, I look fat, my thighs touch, my tummy bounces, I don’t dance well enough in class, etc.
At times, I even cringe at Hailee Steinfeld’s girl-anthem, Love Myself, because I can’t help but wonder how anyone could feel that way about themselves.
But enough is really enough. I’ve felt this way for far too long, and at this point in my life, I’m supposed to be falling in love. I’m supposed to fall in love way too hard with someone incredible, get my heart broken, be swept away by the love of my life.
I’m supposed to be thinking about how my lover loves me, and how I love him too. I’m not supposed to be thinking about whether or not my lover secretly is disgusted by me. I’m not supposed to be thinking about how worthless I am. I’m not supposed to be thinking of ways to die.
I want to free myself. I want to give myself the opportunity to feel love, and I can only do that if I love myself first.
Remember: Nobody will be able to love you if you don’t love yourself first. If you don’t love yourself first, it makes it that much harder for someone else to, even if you expect to be loved.
You have to learn to be your own best friend, your own lover, your own mum and dad. You need to be content with yourself. You need to be able to accept your own compliments and your own criticism. You need to learn that validating yourself is the most important form of validation you will ever need. You need to be daring enough to say no to toxic and self-damaging thoughts.
I know my case may be kind of drastic, and while some of you may resonate with it, some might not. I also know that the journey towards this personal goal may take a week, a month, a year, or even a decade. But it’s a goal that you can work towards every day.
Start off small. Maybe, if you aren’t religious yet, you can find a love or a faith in a god. Work towards achieving your higher self. Start believing in something greater than yourself first, a religion, a cause, a movement.
And sooner or later, you will learn to love yourself. I still remain trying.