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I have realised that I keep my self-worth in various places—everywhere except myself.
It took a lot of soul searching and innumerable soul bearings in front of my mother, husband or friends, to realise this.
A part of my self-worth is clutched onto my relationships. Am I an abiding daughter? Am I an all-around good wife? Am I a great friend?
Ever since childhood, I have been obsessed with being the epitome of perfection for my parents, never making it seem like I need any help. This, I realise in hindsight, was my self-defense, a coping mechanism of always keeping myself on edge so that I would turn out to be useful.
This also has imprinted on my friendships and my marriage. My closest friends and my husband know my bouts of self-doubt, how I overanalyse and reevaluate my own worth in every aspect of my life.
Even if I am not feeling up to a simple outing with a friend, I will always be there. I feel like if I don’t show up for my friends, that will lower my worth, and in turn, I never ask for help when I need it.
I do the same as a wife, often abandoning my own thoughts and wants, even when I don’t have to. Somehow, I tie my worth to that of a perfect wife who needs to be flawless and a dream when I absolutely don’t have to.
Unfortunately, whenever I feel I am not doing enough in my roles, I doubt my value as a person. Even though no one has complained, I will still be strict with myself and be sure to go to any lengths to make up for my imaginary flaws.
Random comments from inconsequential people will put me in a dilemma, feeling like a useless ornamental person. In a frenzy, I will try to fix things, again out of assumptions.
I believe my parents, my friends, and my husband don’t expect me to be a cookie-cutter version of a perfect human being. They don’t want me to go on an overdrive of effort to be the best. And I am sure that they truly love me for who I am.
It’s only the way that I view myself that causes me to doubt my worth. I’ve realised that I have only loved myself in difficult situations—times when I have triumphed over uncertainty. I’ve always looked back at my strength as a loving trait. And when all is calm, I try and look for clues as to where I might lack.
Any drawback in life that is beyond my control has ended up affecting the way I view myself. Out of a job, being a homemaker without a child yet, I often question, “what is my worth?” There are women who do so much more—handle a job, a family, and motherhood.
I’ve not been kind to myself for decades. I fail to see myself as people close to me see me. I haven’t acknowledged that I value my relationships genuinely, I don’t abandon anyone, and I give my best to achieve any feat.
I believe my self-worth needs to stem from me and not from my relationships or societal tags. Rather from the sheer fact that I am enough and each person in my life already benefits from my care without me having to overdo it.
At 29, it’s not too late to be kind to me. I know it will take time, but there will come a day when my worth will be free of my own judgement.
Until then, it’s about small steps: the daily practice of being kind to the person in the mirror, telling her to just breathe—reminding her that she is enough.