The difference between my little sister and I at her age is that she has a pure heart. A sense of innocence and a true want for anything but conflict. At her age… I was bossy, I was conniving and I was an extrovert. Well before moving to America anyway. But I’m starting to notice some similarities outside of our appearances.
The self doubt, the questioning of appearances, the social anxiety, everything I have been fighting against for the past couple of years. And now the words of an old therapist makes sense. “You didn’t teach yourself to think this way, it comes from your environment, it comes from home.”
My brother being that he is a male, and honestly… just thinks a lot differently than the rest of us, has the confidence I lacked as a teenager… and the confidence my little sister needs now. I just can’t help but wonder how he bypassed the impact of our household.
Don’t get me wrong, we come from an extremely loving family. Like beyond it. My mother still cuddles with me till this day. My father will call me randomly during the work day because he feels like it. But at a young age, while I was growing up, I was never taught to be comfortable with myself, I was never taught to love everything that is me. I developed a horrible habit of worrying about money after watching my father do it for years, and a terrible ass habit of obsessing over my weight and body simply because one day my mum stated “Honey, you need to dress for your size.”
It’s not just the media people, it comes from much more than that.
After a conversation with my mother early this morning, I see my old thinking habits in her… and in my grandmother. Our behaviors and way of thinking come from home or for some others, a lack of a home. I am not lazy because my father would never allow it, he taught me how to maximize my time simply by watching him… always on the go. My slight obsession with spotting dirt a mile away, and the urge to clean it… that’s from watching my mother and her second husband Pine-sol. Not to mention, my want to for others to be happy, that’s Mummy too. The single most caring woman I have ever met.
But the self-doubt, the constantly questioning my ability to do something unconventional, that also comes from them too… and they probably do not even know it. I am an engineer because I was told if it wasn’t Math, Science or Engineering… it wasn’t a real degree. I ask for very little of people and will solely depend on myself, because I was told to not ask for things, that I wasn’t a charity. I was scolded for sharing my opinion in class, and my teacher conveniently portrayed it to my father that I was being rude and destructive because I made a point others seemed to agree with. Amongst countless of other interactions that happened, as I stated awhile ago, I was a troubled teen. It’s the little things at a young age that shape us and mold us into the people we are today.
So why speak about this now? Because it’s up to those of us who understand this process to counteract it within our younger siblings, children or mentees. We need to help fill in the gap with self-doubt and self-confidence. My mum’s sisters do it for me all the time, and did so when I was younger, even though I didn’t really notice it. Self-love and confidence isn’t something one is born with, it’s something that is taught… especially through exposure at young ages. Let’s do ourselves a favor and pass on some of this knowledge.