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So many people want to give advice. Most of it is worthless. When i was growing up, with all my emotional problems, why didn’t anyone give me good advice? They could have; now that i’m middle-aged i can see the ways. I see myself, aged 18: skinny, awkward, shy. Kid who had been bullied in school from age 10, and battered at home from age 6. Taught by my peers to be ashamed of myself and suspicious of anyone my own age. I needed to learn how to fake it. I needed to learn how to look normal, act normal. Because you have to be normal, and people have to like you. And Lord knows, people sure like to give advice: not because they want to help you; but only because they want to shoot their mouths off, and feel like experts. But it was never the advice i needed. No one told me, “this is how you have to stand and walk, so that you’ll look like an alpha male, the only man that people respect.” No one said, “this is the tone of voice to use, so that you’ll sound confident.” Where was the person who would teach me how to play baseball or basketball, how to dance and start a conversation, how to make friends? No one told me that i could ask for help on the job; that i didn’t need to be ashamed of my ignorance. There always were people who were happy to blow generalities and abstractions at me: “be positive!” “be strong!” “be CONFIDENT.” (Damn, i’ve grown to despise that word “confident.”) No one broke it down to specific lessons. Lessons that TOLD me what i was doing wrong. Shit, no one even taught me how to SMILE; it wasn’t until i was 42 that i realized, “hey wait a minute, my face doesn’t make a smile!” And it wasn’t until i was 50 that i realized, “wait a minute — if i tighten the muscles in my mouth this certain way, this way that feels like this in my cheekbones, then, on that face in the mirror there, i’ll see what people call “a smile.” It’ll be a fake smile, but at least it’ll be there. I went 50 years of my life without anybody even teaching me how to smile. Not even that one small thing. In the rare moments in the past, when i tried to explain this to people, you can bet that they had all the answers: “well of COURSE you have to get along with people!” “of COURSE you have to smile!” “of COURSE nobody taught you; nobody teaches anybody!” So that’s it. The winners were born with their skills. Or, more likely, they really were taught; by parents, older brothers, sisters. That gave them the basics. And from there, they had the gold-plated privilege of falling ass-backward into success. Influential friends; good jobs; dates and sex; parties full of cool people. And everybody acts like it’s so easy to get all that: “all you have to do, is BE YOURSELF!” What horseshit; i was myself, and people didn’t respect it. Now i look back on a life of failure; years of mistakes and self-defeat that i did because nobody ever told me the right way to do it. And because of all that self-defeating behavior, of course, i have even more to be ashamed of. I’m sick of people trying to give advice to me. Because i now know what i advice i needed, and i know that they could have told me. They could give me that advice even now, but they never do. I’m fighting a dozen character defects, all at the same time, always fighting alone. So i keep stumbling along, screwing up, defeating myself. Thanks for reading this post.