Low Self-Esteem and One Other Option

Neo in The Matrix Revolutions
[Word count: 597. Approximate read time: 3 minutes]

Having low self-esteem isn’t so bad. It’s no worse than sharing a bedroom with your worst enemy. If you don’t mind a sadistic killer trying to dissolve you from the inside all day long with acidic mind chatter, it’s a fine life. I had a minor disagreement with co-workers over where to have lunch and here’s what happened.

The negative voice started out slight:

  • “They don’t like you.”
  • “They don’t want you around.”
  • “You’re so difficult.”
  • “Why can’t you go with the flow?”

But if left unchecked, that trickles to a flood of:

  • “You’re always the problem.”
  • “Nobody wants you.”
  • “Nobody likes you.”
  • “That’s why your girl left you.”
  • “Who could love you when you act like that?”
  • “You’re going to be alone for the rest of your life. And that’s what you deserve.”

Isn’t that a little over the top? In fact, it’s ridiculous. But that’s what I’m dealing with—a constant stream of hateration and holleration in my dancerie. The problem is… it’s not all untrue. Sometimes I am difficult. And I usually won’t just go with the flow. The voice isn’t a total liar, but—like a tabloid—it exaggerates so much, I don’t know WHAT to believe. Continue reading

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Gifts Robin Gave Me, Part 1

[Word count: 654. Approximate read time: 3-4 minutes]

Robin Hill and I in 2003

“When you’re little, you adopt survival mechanisms. But then they last too long. They last beyond their usable time and they become impediments to growth.” —Jane Fonda

I used to be horrible at taking compliments. Too often they’d be a bait-and-switch for devastating insults. So I became a ninja at self-deprecation. If I tore myself down sufficiently, no one else could take anything from me. It made me feel safer. I didn’t realize I wouldn’t be able to stop… for decades.

At age 50, my friend Robin Hill was fighting brain cancer. I was fighting a kind of disease too. Mine was that I’d want people to like me. And then they would. I just wouldn’t believe them. Both maladies kill very slowly. Ultimately Robin didn’t survive hers, but she left something to make sure I survived mine. Continue reading

Not Enough, but Compared to What?

[Word count: 1255. Approximate read time: 4-5 minutes]

One day, I was talking to a mentor about how it drove me crazy that a particular woman would not so much as give me the time of day. No eye contact, no casual hello, nothing. One would’ve thought she was harnessing her mental energy to metaphysically wish away my existence. The world has never known reception so icy. I could’ve stored raw meat on her shoulders for months.

It dominated my thoughts. Did I say something to offend her? Was my hygiene bad? Does she resent guys with hair longer than hers? Does she dislike Black men? Skinny men? Eventually, I didn’t really want her attention anymore. I just wanted to know why I couldn’t have it, and what rendered me ineligible. Maybe I wasn’t the fit for her. And that’s okay, I guess. But things like this exacerbate a long standing tradition of feeling like I’m not something enough. Pick any something:

  • Not Black enough.
  • Not strong enough.
  • Not man enough.
  • Not important enough.
  • Not cool enough.
  • Not young enough.
  • Not established enough.
  • Not charming enough.
  • Not skilled enough.
  • Not accomplished enough.
  • Not Christian enough.
  • Not persistent enough.
  • Not talented enough.
  • Not attractive enough.
  • Not driven enough.

Bear this in mind. I am aware that I am indeed all of the above. It just seems like it’s never enough.

Continue reading