This was in response to a writing prompt for my communications class on self-concept. It was a very interesting topic to write about and I think that it is important for us to recognize where we got certain ideas about ourselves.
I am so grateful for the family that I was raised in, because many and most of my influences were very positive. Besides sibling teasing, I believe all I got until school was positive feedback from my family as to who I am. My dad always told me that I was “the best”. I don’t know what phrases or nicknames stick out to my siblings, but that was who I was and it really helped me to become who I am. It does not define anything specific about me, but it was always in my mind that I am the best. I don’t think that ever gave me a distorted view of myself or made me believe that I was better than anybody. I fully believed and do believe now that anyone and everyone can be the best.
I have created my own understanding of that title. I am the best Micah. I am the best of myself there is. It relates to the article titled “No One Can Take Your Place”. I have things to offer people at different times in their life that no one else can. The places that I go and the things that I am impressed to do are things that only I can do for myself and for others.
I believe that I had a very sturdy foundation of positive self-concept, but that in no way means that I was or am immune from experiences with others or social-comparison that is so destructive. I started to have acne at the young age of nine. That age is probably the earliest I can recall of feelings of not good enough or comparing myself to others in a less than positive manner. Early, yes I wanted to wear overalls because my friends did, but all of those comparisons from what I can remember were positive and fun. In third grade my teacher called my mom and told her that she thought I had chicken pox and that I should go home. I knew they weren’t chicken pox. It was acne.
There are moments that we remember; we engrave into our minds and they define many of our personal thoughts. Around that same age riding the bus home from school one of my friends called me zit face and teased me at any chance about my skin. Thus ever since I have been extremely self-conscious about my face and what I look like. I didn’t start wearing cover up in fourth grade because I thought I was pretty or that it was cool. I did it because I wanted less people to recognize my problem.
Through the years of my life I have acquired a thick skin on that issue and probably other things that I perceive about myself and maybe I have gained more confidence. In high school as I babysat a lot I had to be more confident in myself as there was not one family that I cared for that did not have a child ask me what that was on my face or what all of my scars were from or why I had an owie on my face.
As I made a list of my characteristics, I was trying to be as positive as I could. We all know that we are better than what we tell ourselves regularly. I know that I am relatively skinny, that I am quite healthy, smart, etc. We all wish that we could be more or something different than what we are. I have always been very aware of my weight and if I looked skinny enough. I really don’t care about the number on the scale, but if I think that I look thick, then I need to do something about it.
So, why do I believe these things about myself? I think I am like everyone else. It is hard to know where we are and how well we are doing when we do not get significant praise. I have thought of this before, but I think one of the issues is that when we are young we are praised for everything. We get a lot of self-confidence boosts. We are encouraged to do better and to be better and are told how wonderful we are. This fades as we become older and accomplished. We become who we are and we are known among people. We have lost our “gauge”. I think a lot of what this topic says is that we need to get away from gauging and from getting insight from others, but I think that there is nothing wrong with some of that. Maybe too often we get recognition for our failings instead of our triumphs.
We need to let go of the ideas that ourselves and others have created for us and just be. Be who you have always wanted to be and do it because it makes you happy. I have found that we are meant to struggle. We should be able to come out of our struggles with something new, with confidence and stamina for more. In one of my ‘quests’ during my teenage years to ‘look thinner’ I found something in myself and about myself that really gave me the ability to understand myself in God’s eyes. I started to hike often and found that this is where I could clear my head of all of my social comparisons and all of the ideas that others had given me about myself and where I could remember who really knows me and remember and learn what and who I am.