This may come as a shock, but I have a hard time with the whole "confidence" thing. I am way better now, at age 33, than I was ten years ago. And of course ten years ago I was way better than I had been five years previously. But I still do things like feel really self-conscious when I push the button at the crosswalk and stand there waiting for the little green man to tell me to walk. You know how there's sometimes a window of time when you could probably just walk, and no cars are coming, but the green man isn't telling you to go so you hesitate and agonize over what to do? I do that. And I imagine that people in cars are watching me, and saying, "why doesn't she just go, already? There's nobody coming! Is she really just waiting for the green man to tell her what to do?" Am I the only one who does that?
Then there's every single time I come home with a shopping bag, or worse, a bag from McDonalds or Wendys, and I cringe, thinking that my retired neighbors across the street are watching me out their window and saying, "there goes Carly with another shopping bag! She must be a real spend-thrift! Oh, see, she's chosen to eat at McDonalds for breakfast! And is that a large Diet Coke at nine o'clock in the morning? Tut, tut." You can't tell me they aren't all watching my every move. I know they are!
So as I get older I realize that having an insecure mom is not very good for my kids (see Facebook status update wherein my son asks us why we don't know as many people as our friends do, and my husband tells him it's because I am afraid of people--and I am). I am all about quality, not quantity when it comes to interacting with people, but I may be taking it too far when I dream of living full time in a cabin in the mountains where nobody could ever talk me again.
The good news is, despite my natural lack of bravado, competitiveness, self-assurance, and confidence, I am slowly overcoming some important issues that have plagued me in the past.
Issue #1 is the swimsuit issue, of course. It does my children no good for me to keep them from the pool simply because I am too self-conscious to don a swimsuit. It also does my daughters in particular no good to hear their mother complain about her appearance in a swimsuit. So yeah. I squeeze my body into a swimsuit and my legs look like sausages beneath my ugly old lady swim shorts. And I don't say anything out loud about how bad I look. This is a huge deal, you know.
Issue #2 goes along with swimsuits, and it is fatness and appearance in general. There is little worse than going shopping with someone who constantly talks about how fat they look in their size extra small clothes. So annoying. I am not a size xs by any stretch, but the "I look so fat" attitude is still a drag and annoying and damaging to those around me. So, barring the occasional outburst while getting ready for church, I've stopped talking about it. My kids don't need to hear that. Calorie intake, dieting, exercise, belly fat: all of these topics that seem to betray an underlying insecurity are also off-limits now. It's totally freeing! We talk about healthy food now and then, and we go on bike rides. But nobody is talking about losing weight or being fat or looking bad.
Maybe it's just that I am getting older and I am settling into my role as a mother more comfortably. I care less about being the thinnest and most fashionable person in the room. I am realizing that being ok with my appearance is not just the mature thing to do, but the truly helpful thing to do for my kids. I have a long way to go (haircut obsession), but I am getting there.
Now, if I could just overcome some other issues (like crosswalks, and neighbors watching me, and calling people, and going to the post office, etc.) then my insecurity may not be passed on to my children. One can only hope.