Yesterday one of my girlfriends from school texted me with questions about an assignment she felt unsure of. Of course I stayed in my bubble of safety in terms of academic integrity in my responses, what it came down to is that she was just overthinking it and needed some outside validation. I get that. I used to, and sometimes still do, live in that place.
When we were wrapping up or text convo one of the last things she said to me is that I was her “student goals”. I texted her back one more very important validation, You are so capable. I have never known you to get it wrong. trust your gut and instincts, I do.
I am her student goals. That is silly to me, not in a dismissive way, in a You are already there! way. I know she gets better grades than I do. She is in the honor society, I am over here getting regular old average A’s, not the A’s at the tippy top.
At the beginning of the semester I was sitting in a small tucked away lounge reading before class. This is part of my Tuesday routine, it helps feel grounded and focused before class begins. One of my classmates walked up and I waved her over to sit with me. She and I bonded last semester of undergrad over our shared love of working with older adults. We spent a little time catching up, talking about our impression of grad school so far. At one point she said told me how much she admires me and that I am the standard she holds her self to in certain ways when it comes to school and social work. I was flabbergasted. I reminded her of how much life and work experience she has and how much she has to offer a program like this in terms of intellectual contribution.
This classmate is in her 60’s I would guess. She has so much more life experience than I do which will make it feel natural when engaging with clients across the lifespan. She brings so much to the table.
I am flattered and humbled when I hear two strong women make comments like this but I am also a little confused.
My first friend I mentioned is in her mid twenties, is an activist for women’s rights, is intelligent, sharp as a nail, and probably towards the top of our class academically. She brings a lot to the discussion, why is she overthinking? Why is she experiencing the self-doubt?
I already mentioned quite a bit about my second friend. She also appears self-reliant, well-versed in matters of healthcare social work and life in general. She also receives high grades and I have never known her to get it wrong either. Why is she experiencing self-doubt?
I do not have the answer for each of them individually but universally I think we all do. Whatever out truth is it is in each one of us. Sometimes maybe it feels scary to admit that to ourselves though, even scarier to admit it out loud. Admitting out loud I know I am capable, I know my worth, I can do this and anything else, is a vulnerable declaration. What if someone says, You’re wrong. You are not capable, you are not worthy, I cannot do it.
To that I would say, why does that person get to make that determination for you? The only person who needs to believe you when you say I am capable, I am worthy, I can do this, is you. It is your truth, it belongs solely and wholly to you alone.
I do not believe that people would deliberately choose a life of suffering. That means that somewhere along the lines someone else made you feel incapable, unworthy, like you just can’t do it. That message was internalized and now it a toxic narrative you play on repeat in your mind. It is time to take that record off.
I say all of this while openly owning the fact that I still play this record from time to time. I am more aware of it and try to care for myself gently during those times. When I am truly ready to retire that old record once and for I know I will able to. I may not be there yet but I also know each day I am getting closer.