I used to think highly of myself… But no more
When I was growing up, I felt that I was an exceptional person.
And I guess in some ways I was.
I was in fourth grade when my teacher told me that I had an adult’s handwriting. I was taken aback by the compliment and then I decided to use it to my advantage by doing something exceptionally childish. And then I realized that I was just an exceptionally bad kid. After everyone found out what I had done, my family, especially my mother, and my teacher never let me forget how exceptional I was…exceptionally childish and an exceptionally bad girl. I never let myself forget it either. Even today thinking about the bad I had done makes me want to cry and off myself.
In middle school and high school, I felt that I was beautiful…hot, even. Even though I have no idea why I thought that. After all, nobody, and I mean nobody, ever complimented me on my looks…except my father. I was a preteen when he began molesting me. He told me how beautiful I was, and then he would touch me. I thought he meant it. But the truth was, nobody in my school, student or teacher, and nobody at church, ever told me that I was beautiful or that sooner or later guys would want me. I never let myself forget that nobody ever asked me out on dates or to dances. And in some ways, I am grateful because I knew that I would have had to say no, and I didn’t want to do that to anybody.
Growing up, I thought that I was intelligent; most people told me that I was. After all, I got good grades in most of my classes, with the exception of a couple. In high school, I was on the top 7% of my class. But then I heard about what all of my classmates were taking: all AP and IB courses, and even some college courses, and many of their GPAs were higher than mine. I did not take any of those difficult courses (with the exception of a couple of honors courses as a freshman and AP Psychology as a senior). The truth was, I did get good grades, but I wasn’t smart. I wasn’t hardworking. I was just a dumb lazy student taking easy courses. In college, I am in the honors program only because I get good grades, not because I am smart. In many ways, I do not think I deserve to be in the honors program, and sometimes I wish I could drop out of it just to be honest with myself and everyone else.
I used to think I was a good writer. I read often in middle school and high school (though not at all in elementary school). I wrote stories for myself. I dreamed of becoming a famous author someday (and I still do). But in college, when I took my first couple of writing courses, although I got A’s in those classes, nobody complimented me on my writing. I really thought that my writing was good. It was mostly grammatically correct, and my spelling was good…but that’s it. As far as I’m concerned, I was just an ordinary writer.
And now suddenly things have changed. Why? Suddenly, when I began working a real job (a job where I got paid), more men are taking notice of me, and that makes me exceptionally uncomfortable. I had already accepted the fact that I was ugly for years, gotten used to the idea, and now I am not ugly for some reason. Men on the streets look at me more often and smile. Men at the places I’ve worked looked at me. Just when I was getting used to the fact that I would probably be single the rest of my life because nobody would ask me out anyway… I guess it’s a good thing, but even if people start asking me out on dates, I would not go (I have already made up my mind that I would not marry at all).
And now something else has changed. Nearly a couple of years ago, I took a course entitled “Grammar and Style,” and suddenly people are beginning to compliment my writing. I suppose this is a good thing too, because it has led me to philosophy. It was my test scores and my term paper that led me to want to study it, the term paper that my teacher encouraged me to submit to the Philosophy Conference. Because nobody had complimented my writing before taking that class, I am guessing that the class helped me to become a better writer. So it is not an exceptionally natural talent of mine; naturally, my writing is just exceptionally average. That class helped improve it.
But even now I can never think highly of myself again. Too many of my former beliefs had been false. I was never this exceptional person who was intelligent, beautiful, caring, or great at writing. I am just exceptionally ordinary. In many ways, this makes me sad, and I wish I can change it. But in other ways, this is just something I have to accept about myself. The fact that I wanted to change it and often failed probably led to my low self-esteem. So now if I just accept what I am, I would be able to function better in society.