26 days — 26 learnings: Part nineteen of looking back & looking beyond.
My word for today is:
When I think of the word self automatically a whole range of words passes by:
Self-image, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-assurance, self-worth just as well as, self-reliance, self-discovery, self-assessment, self-aware, self-conscious, self-assertion, self-centered, all the way to, self-absorbed.
It’s quite incredible how many terms we have to look at our self. I sat down this morning and asked myself; How do these words differ? Do they stack rank? Where would I place myself in such ranking? I wanted to delve deeper. Then the hours passed and before I knew it, it was evening.
So here I sit, and rather than starting a research project, my mind wanders back to 2017. To those moments where I wasn’t quite myself. Is that even possible? Can one not be oneself? Nevertheless, there were a few occasions — one that stretched across an entire week— where I surprised myself.
During those moments I learned once again how paradox certain things are.
I’m blessed with healthy self-esteem. I’m not any better than anyone else, but I’m sure not any worse either. I have no problem looking anyone in the eye.
And yet, I can be surprisingly nervous at times. Terribly nervous. To the point where I black out entirely and don’t find any words anymore. For someone who is as talkative as I am, that is quite a thing.
In Holland, we have a saying “Ze is niet op haar mondje gevallen.” Literally translated it says: “She didn’t fall on her mouth.” When I look up the meaning in English, I learn new phrases :-) Starting with “you certainly have that proverbial gift of the gab,” “you can certainly turn a phrase,” “you have a sharp tongue” all the way to “you still have the bite of a stiff drink.”
Ok, you get the picture. I talk, a lot. Hardly ever shy. Often a hint too quick.
And suddenly, I stand there and I’ve lost it. Completely.
I try to reassure myself: “It’s ok.” “Take a deep breath.” “Take one more.” “You just need another minute, and you’ll be fine.”
Self-talk, another one of those words…It can be highly effective. Yet, it has its limits, especially in the midst of the moment.
Being so nervous can make one even more nervous…Nervous, the word itself already refers to the word nerves. Just like intense, contains the word tense. When our nerves tense up, it can be damn hard to find a way to release that. Laughter, crying even screaming can help, but what does that look like :-)
I know of great artists and band members who puck before they go on stage.
But I’m getting off track. Sorry.
Curious about the difference between being self-conscious and self-aware, I find an article that resonates. It says, that when we are self-conscious, we are too self-absorbed. We’re so worried about how we are being perceived that ninety percent of our thoughts concentrate on things like, “What does he think of me? Does he think I’m weird? Does he think I’m ugly? How am I coming across?”
Whereas self-awareness is more an observing process. We get to know ourselves better, find causes for underlying behavioral patterns and therefore get faster at acknowledging what’s driving us and can steer ourselves better.
Reading the article, I feel like the one is in the moment, whereas the other is more distant. Less in the moment itself. Something one works on over time, so things get easier when the moment comes.
So self-awareness is the route to less self-consciousness?
I leave it for what it is and conclude that no matter how self-confident we are, there will be moments of total nervousness. Where we will be way more self-absorbed as we should be. And that’s OK. Feel nervous and do it anyway!
My learning from last year:
If we never surprise ourselves, we’ll never surprise ourselves.
My take away for 2018: Keep surprising yourself. Even when it’s not always comfortable. Learn as you go. Expand.