If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it
— Toni Morrison

Self Help

In the dark depths of my attic, lay long neglected photo albums from my childhood. When I muster the courage to flip through their pages, I cringe at the pegged acid washed jeans and the   crimped side pony tail. Yet, beneath the horrifying and embarrassing 80s styling, I see a very happy young girl. A girl who hammed it up for the camera, and who did not second guess the neon leg warmers, even though she probably should have. It is strange to think that same girl is me. I hardly remember what it was like not to be riddled with nagging doubt or feel an awkward self-awareness when making choices. If that young girl could see the adult me what advice would she give? She would probably say; "what is the problem? Who cares? Stop worrying so much”.

It was probably in the modern day torture chamber that we lovingly refer to as middle school that my self-doubt began. When you first truly become aware of the social expectations of others and the consequences your choices have. Too many negative comments or consequences, and you start saying to yourself; “hey wait a minute this is no fun I need to think before I act.” Then you think too much and act way to little. Then you watch the movie Carrie and the mother says; "they're all going to laugh at you". That line then plays on repeat throughout your middle school and high school career.

Taking the imaginary advice from my adolescent self, I look around and take note of who actually cares. Sure my family and friends care about my well-being and how work was today and that I found a deal on car insurance. But no one obsesses over my decisions or doubts or missteps with the attention to detail that I do. In fact, there are days that I can go a whole day without anyone concerning themselves with me at all outside of the obligatory; "hi how are you".

"Gee that is depressing," you say. So what is my point? It is not to depress you, it is to save you from yourself. So often in today's society we build up barriers between ourselves and those around us. We turn our reflection so far inward that we become blind to others and conversely others become blind to us. The few instances when we come out of the fog and recognize the presence of others, we allow our inner critic to run rampant on other people. When given the opportunity, your inner critic seems to take a break from doubting and judging you by doubting and judging others with equal harshness that it directs towards you.  We are so quickly drawn to the negative that we see because it reflects our own negativity.

My challenge to you is to you is to let your walls down.  Rather than just using positive self-talk spread positivity to others.  I think you would be surprised to find the positivity that comes back your way.  Most people are much like yourself; letting their inner critic walk all over them until their shoulders are slouched from carrying the weight of such negativity.  Just like you, a little validation and support would go a long way.  I am trying to avoid sounding too much like a bumper sticker, but it must be said that what you give tends to be what you get back.

Your inner critic thrives in isolation, sensationalizing and obsessing on perceived flaws. Your younger self never would have wanted you to become such a self-conscious person. Accept yourself with flaws and all, while accepting others as well. Be true to yourself despite what your inner critic insists others will think and break down the barriers that you have put in place between yourself and the rest of the world.  Go back to your own beginning and Chanel that care free spirit. I even give you permission to rock the leg warmers.