Have you ever found yourself feeling alone in a room full of people? Or maybe like no matter how hard you tried no one could understand you, or worse, no one cared enough to really try. Personally, I have always felt like the odd one out. Growing up Egyptian, where obedience is equated to love, and in California, where I didn’t fit in to any preset ethnic groups in school, I’ve always been the proverbial “black-sheep” of my family. I’ve always been on a search for my self-worth.
It was lost long, long ago
For a long time, I never really felt like anyone accepted or really liked me. That didn’t stop me from trying, though. I did all I could to get people to like me—to feel accepted. So as a result, becoming the most “wonderful” person quickly became my mission in life. The pressure I put on myself to be perfect was completely unproductive, and later on in my early twenties would prove to be destructive. I molded and mastered myself into the perfect “wifey”: beautiful, smart, well-rounded, an amazing cook, loving, supportive, understanding and so on. But those accomplishments in themselves would never be enough to make me feel worthy. Deep down, what I really wanted was a MAN. Maybe if I could find a boy to LOVE me, I thought I wouldn’t feel so unloved and alone.
Looking in the wrong places
Unfortunately, finding a GOOD man proved to be difficult. The problem with connecting my relationship status with my self-worth is, that I desperately clung to my boyfriend, despite the many red flags present within our relationship. It took nearly four years before I accepted that his behavior toward me and with other women was unacceptable and that I needed to leave. By the time I left that relationship, my sense of worth was pretty shot. It’s ironic that low self-worth is what led me to the relationship, kept me in the relationship, and what I had to deal with once I left the relationship. I learned the hard way that when we connect our worth with anything outside of ourselves, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. Yes, it’s a common trap many of us find ourselves in, but it’s a dangerous one.
The clues started to come together
During the last few years of healing from everything that I ALLOWED that man to put me through, I’ve eventually came to realize that my worthiness is an entity separate from my appearance, relationship status, and success. Yours is too. It has taken me a long time but I have learned that a deep sense of self-worth is the foundation each person needs to fully thrive in relationships, and other life endeavors. Despite what society likes to tell us, waist size, social media likes, or loaded bank accounts are not what make us worthy. Those things can’t truly give us the sense of worth we are looking for.
Where I found my treasure
The thing that I truly discovered, was that you have to develop your self-worth. You can’t look for it. You can’t find it. You have to create it. Here are some ways to get started.
- Realize when the behavior starts. The biggest thing that I had to face was learning to acknowledge when I was seeking external validation. As a human it is normal that we seek external validation. So please don’t think that any desire for it is negative, but, its important to recognize when you are seeking it.
- Face your fears. To start I had to ask myself why external validation is so important to me? Usually, when we’re urgently seeking external validation, there’s a fear underlying our desperation. Getting in touch with those fears is important because then we can determine whether our fears are reality or just fears. Most of the time, they’re just fears of the unknown and we shouldn’t give them more power than they deserve.
- Stop fishing for compliments. Sometimes, when I find myself loathing for it… say by posting a fierce selfie and waiting to see the number of likes on Instagram or Facebook likes, or calling my current man to see if he has any compliments to feed me. I have learned to stop myself and think. There’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting people to appreciate my appearance or for the man I love notice me and tell me I’m attractive, but if I’m wrapping up my entire well-being in either of those things, I’m setting myself up for disappointment. When we’re longing for validation, it’s because we’re in need of attention.
- Be good to yourself. A lot of times we can give ourselves the attention we’re yearning for; we just have to learn to believe we are worthy of giving the love to ourselves we unconditionally give to others. Learning to understand the connection between my self-worth and the way I treat myself has been life-altering.
So for all of you struggling to believe in your worth and loving yourself, please know that you are not alone, but the journey towards making those a reality are vital and absolutely necessary. I know that your journey to self love will change your life too.
Until we talk again,