It is easy to get down on yourself. Commercials and advertisements show seemingly perfect individuals in pristine houses, or playing outside on sunny days. They paint a picture of a world that is anodyne and spotless, completely unrealistic and unattainable.
Reality TV shows put people in intentionally oversimplified conflicts so we can mock or admire their efforts to solve the problems. However, the sense of superiority or escape we feel is transient. Soon enough we must return to our own complex and challenging relationships. Real life doesn’t end the night we do not get a rose from our Bachelor, or when none of the judges on The Voice turn around after we sing.
In real life, we must learn to live beyond rejection and failure. We must embrace imperfection.
You don’t have to be perfect, but you need to realize that you are not just enough, but more than enough.
In her new book More Than Enough, former Teen Vogue editor Elaine Welteroth doesn’t overtly offer advice to her readers. But she does explain how her experiences and upbringing helped her understand she was capable of achieving great things. We can learn from her example.
Be proud of your identity
Embrace and be proud of your identity by surrounding yourself with supportive people who believe in you. They might be your family, but they might be select friends and co-workers who have faith in you and who call you to be better.
You have strengths, interests, and a personal identity that are valuable and worth celebrating. If your job or the people around you cause you to forget this, you need to change them as much as possible.
There is no success to be found in changing yourself to match your situation. Your job likely doesn’t care very deeply about you. Or at all. So why would you change yourself to be what your job demands?
Be proud of who you are, and celebrate it by being in places and with people who love you for it.
Develop your strengths
Look to your interests and skills to help you navigate to your dreams. What do you enjoy doing? What do you practice? How can those skills be brought to bear on the problems you face each day at work and at home?
As a child, Welteroth made collages from teen magazines and pictures of her and her friends. Although these collages were themselves not a business, they helped her develop a keen eye for design and social commentary. They prepared her to become a magazine editor who transformed the Teen Vogue image.
Don’t let others define you
In her elementary days, Elaine found herself on a list ranking the girls in her class based on their physical appearance. She was not near the top, and this hurt her deeply. She felt an isolation at school that caused her to cling more closely to people who did care for her.
Later, she grew devoted to her HS boyfriend. She rejected an offer to attend Stanford to go to college with him at Sacramento State University, and then stood by him as he started selling weed, then crack. She thought she was showing courage and faith in others as she continued to stand by him. Only when he was arrested did she change her mind.
In each of these cases, Welteroth allowed the opinions and actions of others determine how she felt about a place, and even make major decisions about her future. Fortunately, she was able to change her circumstances and move into a more productive and supporting place.
Find a mentor
As we progress through our lives, we can understand and process more and more about the world around us. The sooner we realize that this is true for everyone, the sooner we can get to work capitalizing on this information.
You see, if you are getting smarter over time, so are other people. And that means the older folks around you likely have something to teach you.
Who around you do you admire? What skills or strengths might they offer you? Seek them out. Tell them how you feel. Ask them to help you.
In Welteroth’s case, it was a college professor who helped her see behind the lies that media tells people about themselves – about race, about gender, about competence and qualifications. She credits this mentor with giving her key insights that helped her become an editor and published author.
By following these steps, you can reach your goals without compromising your values or who you are.
Do you have a challenging self esteem problem that is costing you sleep, or robbing you of your sense of independence? You likely will benefit from talking to a licensed therapist like Sakina Issa.
Luckily, these conversations can happen discreetly and by appointment using the same tools you have grown comfortable using at work, like Zoom or GoToMeeting. Just click the button in the upper right hand corner.
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