September 30, 2009

The Magic Ingredients

Self esteem. I wish someone would bottle and sell it. In this world it's really difficult to cultivate self esteem on your own. I wish there was some magical way of thinking, some fail-safe mantra that could protect a person from an attack on their confidence. Even those who somehow manage to have a strong sense of self worth can have the rug pulled out from under them. And those who are hanging on by a thread can have their last link to reality cut, and they give up.

It's tempting to blame any one thing in this world, but they all work together. Advertising, movies, thoughtless acts of others, the way society gets more and more distant in its human interaction. You can pass by hundreds of people in your day and not have a meaningful exchange with anyone. And you certainly don't have to have a 'socially unacceptable' disorder to be a victim. It can happen to anyone, any age, any attitude.

And to further complicate things, it's about more than just your looks. How do you explain how someone like me, a girl with male pattern hair growth, can keep going while someone else with flawless skin and elegant features can hate herself so much that she feels her own life is not worth fighting for? Self esteem is more than feeling good about your looks (though that certainly can help). Is it your abilities that you have to be proud of? Do you have to like your personality? Do you have to feel you are in balance with being a good friend and a good daughter/sister/mother, good wife/girlfriend and a good worker? What does it take to feel like you are worth it?

I wish I knew the recipe, so I could protect myself, and help others. No one should be feeling like they should just give up. No one should allow a careless lover to get them down, or the thoughtlessness of a friend, or one's own error at work, or the body they were born with. Yet they do. We're all fighting this constant battle to hang on to this mystical thing, but we don't know exactly how to keep it from escaping.

And for some, it is not melodramatic to say this is a life or death struggle.

I think one of the biggest mistakes we make is thinking someone else can give it to us--particularly in a romantic relationship. If you're not happy with yourself now, you're never going to be happy as part of a pair. Some family and some friends you can trust to build you up, but throwing that expectation onto a stranger is dangerous.

I think another big mistake is to allow yourself to get in the way of acheiving your dreams. Have the courage to go to that country you always wanted to visit, orget that higher education that will place you in the career you fantasize about. It's my observation that the people who don't really give something a wholehearted try are the ones who feel they fail at everything--and so they don't try. It's a vicious circle that keeps them in a place where they feel like a failure. Going after what you want is not as simple as it sounds, but that's why you have to give it your all, frightening as it may be.

But lack of confidence in one's self is usually what spurs us to make these mistakes. It is so hard to fight for yourself when your own self is pitched against you.

So what do you do? Obviously I have no answers, but I'm not giving up, and I don't want anyone else to, either. There are people who believe I'm worth it. And there are people who believe you're worth it, too. If you can't think of anyone right now, just use me.


Sophie said...

Oh... Plenty of wise words there.
Take two 15 year old hirsuite girls. One with loving family members who always knew she had The Problem and supported her throughout her fight with society in one way or another. The other one, with much less hair on her body but with parents who told her she is a mutant and should die. Look at them ten years later. The first one most probably will be coping okish and her self esteem will be on lower than average but acceptable level and because of that she would be able to work on getting stronger. The second girl, however, has minus million on a self esteem scale, therefore she has nowhere to begin getting strong from... and then i think there starts the subconsciouss attention seeking... when you say - finding a person who appreciates us cant solve the problem, i need to disagree. not always and not totally but it might help a great deal. it's not going to work if our aim is to look for a person only to praise us. thats stupid. but if somebody happens in our life who takes time to listen to us and gives us attention because we are who we are - we are able to see we are not mutants. and our self esteem grows this little bit more. if you are in a relationship when every day you feel loved and important and needed - yes, i believe that can boost your self esteem ...
the only problem with that is that when it is not "self-made" confidence, when it is with somebody's help - the huge risk is that if that person goes away or it turns out they never meant all that love and appreciation, the quickly given self esteem boost disappears as fast as it happened with very damaging results...

eh... i shall write more on that subject when i have the internet access so maybe i'll make more sense....

Allerleirah said...

Thank you for adding your thoughts, Soph. :)

Anonymous said...

"It is so hard to fight for yourself when your own self is pitched against you."

You said it girl.

What a way to live when one of the most negative aspects of your life is also the thing that you give most focus to everyday. Physically, mentally and even subconsciously it is always there, waiting to trip you up.
I suppose having one equally as prominent, though completely positive, subject to give your attention to could be the antidote that keeps low self-esteem at bay.
It's difficult for me to do though. When every time life throws something positive your way, this "issue" is ready to send self-destructive tactics into overdrive in order to protect this epic & embarrassing secret.

So I was in school the other day, when the topic of hirsutism came up in our notes. I knew it was coming and I was dreading it. They all had so many questions, so many comments, and I had an answer to everything. But I sat quietly, playing dumb, trying to look inquisitive like the rest of them, jotting down notes like the rest of them, giggling (but nervously) like the rest of them. All the while just silently begging for them to move on, to a different subject for christs sakes! Wondering if any of them would look back at me to have an in the flesh look at a real hirsute. Hoping none of them knew or suspected. Other people in the class have health problems, and they so willingly and excitedly discuss their personal stories. Could you imagine? Yikes.

I wanted to thank you for creating this blog, it's really awesome of you to do. I have been researching this topic for years and have never come across anything like this where someone is wholeheartedly sharing their personal experience. Very special! I came across it a couple weeks ago and I hope a lot of other people will find it too. To read your stories and maybe relate, and not feel so alone in the "battle". So kudos to you big time. You write very well too! Keeps ya intrigued :) You should write everyday!

And hey, I noticed that we're the same age & both live in the 'great white north'. Kind of cool.

Stay good,

Allerleirah said...

Wow, what do you study in school, if I may ask? (No obligation to answer, of course.) If it were a topic I had to discuss with a class, I don't know how I'd feel. Probably torn between dreading giving myself away and wishing I could stand up and say "I have it!" just so people could see that it doesn't make you *abnormal*. Makes my tummy flipflop just trying to imagine it.

Thank you for your encouraging words, Jadri. Every now and then when I felt particularly helpless, I used to Google hirsutism keywords and every time I found the start of a blog or a forum post from someone who was going through something similar, I felt a little better. But they were all old and abandoned. So I finally figured, well, I'd just have to do one myself! So I am always so happy to hear someone appreciates my rambling on.

But man, every day? I don't think I'd have enough to talk about!

And hey, cool to know you're Canadian too!