Essay: When I Grow Up
by Sherry D. Oct.9, 1981
“When I grow up it might be fun to be in a circus because it would be a good experience. And it would be fun.
It might also be fun to be an airplane stewardess because you could travel a lot.
There are lots of things you can be when you grow up.
Sometimes boys think that girls can’t be firemen or baseball players because we’re girls. That’s not true, you can be anything you want. Even if you’re a girl”.
Remember feeling that kind of self confidence?
I wrote that essay when I was nine years old. My words sound confident and self assured. I am unwavering in my self worth and convinced that I can do or be anything that I want.
The world is mine to have and I won’t take no for an answer because I am a girl and I can do anything. I love that little girl and I love hearing that part of myself. That was 38 years ago. A lot has happened in those 38 years. I have fallen in and out of loving myself and remembering my worth, my self confidence.
Louise Hay, one of my mentors and a powerhouse of the positive affirmation movement has described that we were born loving ourselves. When we were babies, we loved every part of our bodies, our thighs, our bellies, our arms and our legs. Then somewhere along the way we began to believe otherwise and forgot our self worth.
Negative messages cloud self confidence
At some point, that became true for me and I began to believe the negative messages I was so frequently hearing and seeing. I effortlessly integrated them into my own thoughts and dialogue (internal and external). Those messages helped me to believe that I wasn’t ever thin enough, worthy enough, brilliant enough or just enough as I was. That is an incredibly painful way to feel at any age.
As the years passed, my belief that I was not enough became ingrained and normalized in a way that it became second nature. I lived with the relentless notion that if I just did one more thing right; lost ten more pounds, graduated with the highest honors, scored an impressive job, that I would finally feel like I was enough. A never ending loop of “not good enough” continued to play, totally unchecked for decades.
It wasn’t until I became aware of my negative, internal dialogue that I could begin to question those crippling assumptions of myself that I had accepted as true. With patience and practice (lots of practice), I began to hear and recognize my own negative thinking. Admittedly, I was shocked at what I heard. I would never, ever speak to another human being the way I used to speak to myself.
It became abundantly clear to me that until I believed that I was enough, no clever accomplishment would ever fill that hole. Until I truly remembered my worth and changed my inner dialogue, I would never truly feel happy, lovable or good enough.
We are enough
Now I know that those negative messages I used to think and say to myself were never true. They were not true for me and they are not true for you. You were born loving yourself and knowing without doubt that you are enough just as you are. That has remained true throughout your life, despite your circumstances, where you are now or where you would like to be. You are good enough, you do enough and you are simply enough.
It’s time to stop berating ourselves for what we haven’t done, what we ate or things we did or did not say. Our time here, in this life experience is short. Let’s not waste any more of it believing anything other than what is actually true. You are worthy, you are valuable and you are lovable just the way you are. If you have forgotten your self confidence, allow yourself to remember.
Believe you are good enough
Be willing to release your long held beliefs about yourself (whatever they are) and then give yourself permission to think new things about you. There is no reason to hang on to the same old story you have been telling yourself. I’m not good enough, I always pick losers, I never have enough, I’m not thin enough, whatever it is that you continuously say about yourself out-loud or internally. If it isn’t positive and uplifting, let it go. Literally stop saying it. You deserve more than the same old song.
I am now able to feel worthy of the love I have brought into my life, joy for the experiences I have created and appreciation for the person I have become. For example, I am insanely proud of the book I wrote. And I’m grateful for the opportunity to help others remember their self confidence and love themselves too with Violet the Hugging Octopus.
With practice and repetition your negative self-talk will be replaced by new, more positive, supportive thoughts. I think you will be amazed at how often you catch yourself thinking negatively about yourself. Don’t worry about it, because that would be counter productive. Simply acknowledge it, then change your current thought and move on.
When you notice that you have slipped back into unkind thoughts about yourself (because it happens) remind yourself that you no longer need to do feel that way. You are singing a new song. Along the way, be kind to yourself and acknowledge that you are learning a new behavior. Remember, you are replacing a negative habit that took decades to perfect. That will take time and you are worth the effort.
The message of Violet shares that we all deserve self confidence and our own love. Until we allow ourselves to truly believe that, we will feel less than. You deserve to feel strong, confident and self assured because you are all of those things and more. As she tells us in the book, “you are perfectly perfect, just the way you are”.
Now take a moment to practice your own Violet hug. Wrap your arms around yourself for a really big hug and know that you have my support today and always,