On Self Esteem

How do we build our self esteem? What makes us feel our most confident? Is is what we do? Our professions, our accomplishments? Or is it who we are? The way we treat those around us and ourselves? Or is is a mixture of both?

These are thoughts that ramble through my head with great frequency these days. Particularly as a woman, it feels like I have to give one thing up in order to excel at another. And then I feel like a failure when the thing I’m supposed to be excelling at feels like an uphill battle every day.

I left my career two years ago to join my husband’s company part time and have more time at home with our kids. It’s a move that I desperately wanted to make and pined over for years. Like any big change, it came with some turbulence. My feelings were all over the place and it took time to settle into a groove. Eventually, I (sort of) found one. Then covid hit, and we laid me off from the company to save precious business resources. I was at home 24/7 with my kids during the first lockdown. It was a lot. We were all flailing and wondering when on earth this new weird reality would settle.

Now, almost a full year later, we are still deep in a pandemic that isn’t going anwhere for a while yet. The kids are back in school, at least. But everyday is groundhog day. It feels hard and monotonous. It feels like we are all walking through quicksand but the shore keeps moving further and further away.

So when you can’t control what’s going on around you, maybe it’s time to start to control what’s going on within you. It’s taken me well into my 43rd year to recognize that I have always had issues surrounding self esteem and confidence. I always shied away from things that felt difficult and out of reach maybe because of a fear that I would be unsuccssful in my endeavour. Maybe because deep down I didn’t feel like I had what it took to do the remarkable things I saw others doing.

I think that one of the ways that one can build their esteem is through accomplishing tasks. Small victories can lead to bigger victories and then when you get on a roll, your sense of self and confidence can really take off.

But what about the pandemic life for mothers? What if most of your daily tasks are making snacks and eternally tidying a home that is never actually tidied? What is the small humans you spend most of you waking hours catering to never cease to need you? What if there is no box to check at the end of the day but instead a day of endless tasks again tomorrow? And what if you stop and realize that this is what you wanted?

Where, amid all of this, do you find your self?

During this time, I started my Beautycounter business which has been a bright spot to focus on. But it’s also hard. It’s uncomplicated but it’s hard work. For every “yes” and every business success, there are 10 “no’s” and learning opportunitues. It takes a thick skin to put yourself out there everyday and take some risks. I’ve never been known to be particularly thick-skinned… but it’s coming.

I know that one certain way to achieve low esteem is playing the comparison game. Looking to the left and right and seeing the women who have thriving careers making a huge impact in their world and community. Celebrate them but don’t compare yourself.

Maybe the trick is just to celebrate yourself every day. Whether it’s because you got up and made your bed. Whether it’s that you worked out, you bundled up and went for a walk in -40C, you didn’t snap at your kid when they asked you for yet another snack. Maybe it’s okay just to be okay. Maybe we aren’t all meant to be remarkable. Maybe each of us are actually remarkable just by being here.

What I’m feeling: Motivated and Inspired

I’ve written over the past year about leaving my job and exploring a new path working with Keener Jerseys, our family business. Over the past nine months, I’ve been awkwardly fumbling and feeling my way through this transition. Quite frankly, I’ve been experiencing some discomfort. Although I seemingly got exactly what I wanted, somehow I didn’t magically feel renewed and energized by the change. I actually felt a bit let down, if I’m being honest.

Why, when I finally gained the freedom to live the life I wanted to live, did I feel numb? Where was the growth and fulfillment I was seeking?

I tried opening myself up to the spirit of the universe and inviting opportunity in. I kept my eyes open all around me searching for a sign of how I would find my fulfillment. At the same time, I wondered why I was struggling to feel motivated and inspired to successfully do my job, both at Keener Jerseys and with this blog. I kep looking around me for something that would help me solve my problem of lackluster.

Then, and this is kind of embarrasing to admit, just a few days ago I realized that dreams and fulfillment aren’t just going to fall from the sky and into my lap. If I want fulfillment and success, I need to work for it.

Like, duh.

I’m the first to admit that I’m a slow learner. I seem to have to learn the same lessons over and over again before I finally internalize what I need to move past my own self inflicted barriers. In this case the lesson is work hard and you’ll achieve results.

In some areas of my life, like running, I’ve been living that truth every day and putting in the work. In other areas, not so much.

My fear of “did I do the right thing?” stunted me from really throwing myself into anything with passion. The lack of structure that a regular 9 to 5 job typially provides paralyzed me with a feeling of not knowing where to start. I felt a bit lost on the inside and didn’t know how to get aligned.

I truly believe that these are all feelings I had to work through in order to arrive to the a-ha moment that FINALLY came to me recently. Some readers out there may be thinking, ‘sheesh honey, get a grip.’ But my whole life I have been a strong starter and a slow finisher and this experience is no different. I got gutsy and quit the job… and then I stopped. I didn’t forge ahead into my new adventure with purpose and drive. Instead I danced around the edges hoping something or someone would come along and show me what to do next.

Feeling a bit lost at sea for so many months became increasingly more difficult to manage emotionally. Luckily, I also have a very low pain tolerance. Whether the pain be physical, emotional or spiritual, I don’t like living in discomfort. So this extended period of discomfort was quite unpleasant at times. Especially since I was afraid to talk about how I was feeling because I didn’t want to appear as though I’d made the wrong choice. I knew I did the right thing, but I didn’t know how I was going to make it work.

Turns out, I was looking all around me for an answer that was within me all along. I just need to get up every day and show up. Show up for Keener Jerseys. Show up for my kids. Show up for this blog. For running. For spirituality. For all of it. I just need to put the work in.

If I start living my vision of how I want my life to look and feel then that’s how it will start looking and feeling. The people out there that I admire who are living their best lives didn’t get there accidentally. They hustled and did the work and they KEEP doing the work. It’s actually so frigging simple, I’m not sure how I missed it.

It’s one thing to have a vision of what you want your life to be. It’s another to show up and do the work to get it there. At the age 41, perhaps I should know this already, and in so many ways I do, but I also have a long way to go.

One day at a time, I’ll get there.

(Wearing J.Crew sweater, Madewell bag and MPG Sport vest.)