This is something I find extraordinarily difficult. I’m looking through post titles here and thinking it’s all me, me, me! I feel slightly guilty for that, so foolish.
I hesitated filling in a survey last year which asked “how intelligent are you” hesitating between a little and not very much. It took me a while to convince myself that fairly intelligent would be a more accurate description.
2son asked me the other week after some conversation about rehabilitation versus punishment (thanks BBCR4), how come I know so much? I replied that it wasn’t that I knew so much, but that he knew so little, and one day he would have learned enough to see that. I couldn’t say “Yes I do know quite a lot”.
My headteacher tell me I’m a very good parent, that I take them out and do things with them, that I’m doing a great job with them. Other parents occasionally compliment me on my children. I listen to other parents talk about things such as watching television at breakfast time, or I watch their children in the park and give myself a mental pat on the back, ‘well thankfully my children don’t do that’.
People tell me I’m amazing for reading so many books. My response is that is quality, not quantity that matters.
I do get praised for work as well, But what is running through my mind when someone pays me compliments is that they haven’t seen all the work I haven’t done, that they don’t realise how much better it could have been, or how imperfect I am.
Do I know a lot or a little? I would say a little. The more I know the more I realise how much more there is to know and how little of it I know. The fact that either way I know a lot more (and think a lot more) than many people doesn’t make me feel any better.
I get to the end of the day and I look at all I have yet to accomplish, at all the things still to do. I now leave my crossed off list until the end of the week before binning it, just so that I can note what was achieved during the week, that I’m not quite as useless as I think.
Ultimately of course it means that I’m incapable of starting a relationship. If I realise someone is attracted to me, I wonder why, and what a disaster his life must be to think I might be worth it. I very genuinely don’t notice when someone is making eyes at me, although it’s clear as mud when it’s about someone else; it just doesn’t enter my head that anyone would.
I can blame this on my mother for not having enough belief in herself. I can blame my father for the constant criticism and harping on about every single imperfection. I can blame my ex-partners, most or all of them for being critical, for needing to dominate and for making the relationship about them rather than us.
But I have to say enough is enough. I am good at what I do. I am a good parent. I am good with people when I’m confident enough to talk to them. I have made so many friends over the last 5 years. I am kind and considerate, giving thought to other people. I question my place and role in society, my values that I hold dear and how I pass them onto my children; I think about my purpose in life. I can run a household.
I can write that down. I can say it out loud. But I don’t believe it. Not with my head and not with my heart. I have to find the strength and the confidence to be able to do so.