Through reading others’ blogs and writing my own, I’ve come to the conclusion that my worries of being looked down on was mostly from me looking down on myself. I believe some other people might take advantage of that, like chickens who peck on another chicken they see bleeding, but for the most part I’m thinking maybe some others would be willing to give me a chance if I can just come across confident enough.
I’m going to use the word dignity in this post, although I’m aware that what I call dignity is what normal people call, well, normal. It’s really just expecting that their basic value as a person by others is a given. They may be used to the idea that they are to be treated in a respectful fashion, to be heard when they speak, and have the sense they belong in the space where they are without apologies (like at work, church, grocery store, the normal stuff).
I call it dignity because that’s the word that wants to be used. It’s actually just basic decency, and I find that as an adult I have developed habits where I don’t afford myself the decency that others move in.
Here’s the thing, and this is the main point of the post – I’ve been aware for so long that others may not afford me dignity and respect boundaries that I didn’t consider that I don’t afford myself dignity and respect my own boundaries.
That was another revelation to me among others of late. I have been so concerned with how others perceive me that I didn’t stop to see how I perceive myself. I took the nervous girl I was who was constantly looking over her shoulder, feeling like her presence in any place was intrusive, constantly feeling tense and that I should be apologizing for my showing up, and I made her my adult self as well. It hit me – I don’t have to apologize anymore. This is my house, this is my body and soul, this is my life and I’m the only one who ends up living out the consequences for the choices I make, not my parents and siblings, or any given random acquaintance.
Here’s the things I do, and they are now finally seeming strange to me:
I walk quietly in my own house, walking on the balls of my feet instead of my heels. This is because when I was young I wanted to stay under my mother’s radar and I moved quietly to hide in my room. Ever since I’ve always moved with a nervous sense of “I’m not here”.
I talk very quietly even when feeling chatty and it’s so ingrained that people sometimes don’t hear me even though I thought I had lifted my voice a little. That’s also part of a “I’m sorry I’m here” feeling, that’s akin to the “I’m not here” feeling for the times I don’t feel a need to completely be hidden or when forced to interact. I’m going to work on that. I think I’ll be more selective with intentionally speaking only as much as I wish to and, when I do, I’ll try being clear when I say it. This one is going to be hard but will truly aid my confidence.
I don’t look at others well when I’m speaking with them. I’m looking away more than a confident person would. It’s also part of the wanting to be hidden/apologizing for being here thing. I want to gain the sense of presence enough that I’m looking at the person I’m speaking to because I’ve suitably forgotten myself and am interested in taking in the other person and showing interest in what they’re saying.
I have come to understand of late that my ability to correct all of the above habits may not come from me concentrating on each but rather it will come from becoming more peaceful within myself. I think as I continue learning ways to feel more peace then I’ll become more deliberate in all things I do. They’ll increasingly be only the things I want to do, and in the manner in which feels good to do them.
It turns out others didn’t need to respect my boundaries as much as I needed to respect them myself.