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“I like myself”. Such a simple thing to say and so tough to actually do it – to like yourself. We women are extremely harsh on ourselves, I think. We judge ourselves constantly, and hold ourselves at a higher and stricter bar than what we use for judging others. We judge and we feel guilty – two of our greatest pastimes.
It has taken me a long time, a lot of introspection and many torturous self-assessments to arrive at the conclusion that I am awesome. It also took a lot of help from my husband and other friends. It took repeated assurances from kind bosses and coworkers. Now I realize how hard all these people worked to help me regain my self-esteem. Now it is my turn to pay it forward, so here I am sharing my amazing wisdom.
First, let me be true to my tendency to self-deprecate. Let me list the faults that I see in myself.
I am, as I tell my friends, a “strange kind of lazy”. I have no trouble in reporting for work at 7 am if there is work to be done but I love lazing around on some weekends. I won’t hesitate in running around town on a busy day to finish errands but I hate stepping out of the house on weekends. I can rake the yard for 4 hours straight, but I can give the best couch potato a run for his or her money if I put my mind to it.
I am kinda, sorta somewhat a pacifist (and I use bad grammar/language on purpose). Yes I see that as a fault because that makes me feel like a doormat many times. I sometimes will go out of my way to avoid an argument. I have to spend hours rehearsing a simple assertive statement that I want to make in front of someone for something they said that was clearly out of line. 5 days after the fact.
I pay too much attention to detail. Yes, that can become a negative trait. There have been occasions when, I am sure, my coworkers have felt like taping my mouth shut or bashing my head in just so I would stop insisting that they update the spreadsheet just the right way. Oh well.
I am a loner at heart. I love being at parties but I am equally happy when I am on my own. I love going to the movies alone, eating out alone and traveling alone. I am visiting friends and family in India on my ownsome lonesome these days, and enjoying every minute of it. Not a speck of guilt when people ask me if I left my daughters behind in the US with my husband. I say “Yes” most enthusiastically!
Now on to my strengths (and it took me close to a decade to come up with this list)
I am loyal. I stand by my friends and relatives whom I care for. Sometimes even when they are in the wrong. Maybe I should have listed it under “faults” but I like to think of it as my strength. I can keep secrets (goes hand in hand with being loyal, hence not listed as a separate strength even though I was tempted to do so just to increase the number of strengths on my list).
I am an awesome cook and hostess. Yes, I know this statement reeks of narcissism and egotism, and believe me it took me well over half a decade to be able to say it. I love to cook for people who love to eat. I love making people feel comfortable and welcome in my home. I love making friends.
I am generous. I can part with my entire savings in a heartbeat if I find out that a friend needs it. I have done it. I don’t think twice before I buy an expensive and/or unnecessary gift for my daughters, husband or friends. I am not very materialistic. Your son or daughter can come to my house and shatter the glass center table and I might get upset at his or her lack of manners if it were intentional, but I will never get upset at the child for breaking the table.
I had a longer list of strengths in mind when I started writing this article but holding true to form I have forgotten most of them now. What I haven’t forgotten is the struggle that I went through to regain my self-esteem. I lost it after a few years of being told to be subservient in the name of culture, tradition and womanhood. The irony was that my parents raised me to be a strong, independent, confident woman. I can only imagine their pain of having to watch their years of hard work disintegrate with my self-esteem. But I did rebuild it, piece by piece and I hope they now see, in me, the woman they had hoped I would be.
Let us all do this. Let us list out our strengths and take pride in them. Just as happy moms make happy kids, we have to be happy at a personal plane before we can be happy mothers, daughters, sisters or friends.
Pic credit: Sailormoms’
Cee Kay is a mother of two girls, a networking professional, a cooking enthusiast and
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