Are you a jerk to yourself? See what MomSource Team member, Kristin Ebert, has to say on the subject.
In the last couple of weeks we have featured a lot of content on Projecting Professionalism and Projecting Our Best Us. I have researched a ton of sources and read perhaps one too many articles on the subject. So obviously, projection and how we project has been floating in my subconscious.
But no worry, this is NOT about projecting professionalism; it is however about realizing a huge blind spot that I have (hopefully past tense now). We have all heard, ‘Fake it until you Make it” and I am sure that there is sufficient evidence that the intent behind that has proven successful. What we don’t really talk about is all of the thoughts that are going on inside our heads while we are faking it and what role they play.
I have often been told that people perceive me as confident and capable; I am confident when it comes to work that I will get it done to the best of my ability and that I will give 110%. Yet, that is functional confidence and such a small part of our days and overall lives. What I am talking about is all of the rest, the interpersonal, the social, the meaty stuff.
So here is the situation: once upon a time I defined myself as a professional, I made great money, I traveled all over the world, I had a good title, I had a career path mapped out with positions and income by the age I wanted to achieve each and I was checking off every box. And then life happened. I had a sick parent and grandparent and I was in my late 30’s and wanted a family. So, I took a pause. I did. No one pressed pause for me. And I was loving it. I was consulting and still traveling but it was on my schedule. Then I had kids and started my own business, a store (or as some have called it, something to keep me busy). And somewhere along the line I started to hear that judgement in my own head.
Fast-forward to now and the kids are in school. I am pursuing multiple different projects, still contributing in a professional capacity, still loving the time I get with my kids and… I think this is all for the birds because I am no longer on that achievement ladder, because I no longer can look at my monthly deposit and feel good that I am contributing, because without that nice check I can no longer afford the coolest clothes. My car is over 10 years old and my jeans might be the same. And lets face it, personal trainers and nutritionists cost money and over the age of 40 it is all a little different without help or killer will-power and genetics. (Painting a pretty picture, right? Bear with me, it will get better).
Who gives a shit? Right, I know. That is what I thought, it is even what I said. But then came a semi-annual ‘girls’ trip with some of the most amazingly accomplished professional women, and how I came to be invited is still in question. After the last trip, I had come home and told my husband, “Never Again!”… ‘They’ were not my people, “they’ were out of touch with reality, ‘they’ were too judgy. So, the trip rolls around again and for some reason in a flash of a “I could really use a couple days away” moment, I said, “I am In!”
Two weeks before the trip anxiety started and the “Oh, what did I do?”. But life has been a little too busy lately to give much thought to that and so I took the approach, “I don’t care if they judge me and I am not good enough because I don’t have a real job anymore or because I will likely buy nothing on our various shopping trips and will most definitely repeat the same outfit at least once if not more in the course of 4 days. So Be It!” (Bet I was a peach to be around). And then the most amazing thing happened, I quit trying to be what I thought they liked, I was just me and I had an awesome time. I got to know each of them much better and look forward to hanging out with them and NOT just on the next trip. Like, I really like them.
Guess what, the out of touch with reality, the judger, it was me. For Real. It was the conversation I was having in my head with myself, and I didn’t even know it. I was projecting (yep that word); I was Projecting my own insecurities and self-judgement onto them. And shame on me for making them the Jerks and for being a Jerk to myself. So the moral of the story (feel like you are back in kindergarten?) is that most people are interested in us, who we are, not what we have, who we know or don’t know, not how big our title is but how big our heart is, how much joy we can make and take in life, how genuine we are. And, we need to ease up on ourselves. I would never care what my friends do for a living, how big or small their house is, how many times they wore the saggy ripped jeans and new balance sneaks, so why do I measure myself against that? I need to learn to be a better friend to myself. The upside is when I am, I am not afraid of letting people in and the greatest benefit is that I make some amazing, hopefully life-long friends. How is that for Projecting my best me?! Always a work in progress.