The Jungle felt sinister and uninviting. Stumbling through the interiors, I entered a clearing, the first relatively open space, covered with leaves entirely. I looked at my hands, scratched up, bleeding. My clothes were in tatters, and the lack of coverage made me shiver. I decided to start a campfire in the centre of the clearing, and walking towards it, I heard the bushes behind me rustle. Not daring to look back, I continued forward, when suddenly, my feet no longer found firm ground and I fell into a hole, which seemed rather deep, but was probably not more than fifteen feet. Pain shot out, from the tip of my toes to right up to my eyelids, and I screamed. I tried to pull myself up, but I couldn’t move. I heard voices, not around me, but above me. I craned my neck to look up, and saw more than twenty individuals looking down at me. It did not take long for me to recognise them: my classmates, my friends, my colleagues, my ex-partner, teachers I had not met in over eleven years, the Doorman from my apartment. Relief washed over me, for I knew they would help me up. “Hey. Can you please send a rope down?” No response. I concluded that I needed to speak louder, “Hey! CAN YOU PLEASE SEND A ROPE DOWN?” I leaned back, waiting, as my friends bent down to pick something. I felt confused on seeing them come up with what looked like rocks. Before I could react, they released them and they crash landed all over the surface of the hole, many right on top of me. I could not understand what was happening. I felt multiple wounds open at the same time, and the immeasurable pain made it difficult for me to look up again. “What are you doing?” I croaked, and I heard laughter. More rocks showered down, and I sunk into the ground, shivering, screaming and wondering what I did to deserve this.
Ever since we learnt how to talk, or walk, we have looked for approval from the people around us, starting with our parents. Every time we take a step forth as toddlers, we wait for our mother or father to clap, or smile so that we know what we are doing is right. What our parents do or say is set in stone, and affects our mood and our behaviour tremendously.
Therefore, comments such as, “You trouble me so much, I’ll throw you out,” can horrify you, making you feel like you are not wanted by the very people you love, so much. Strike One.
You start going to school, and you meet children your age. Slowly, your friends become an integral part of your life, and you depend heavily on them for everything you do. If your friend is doing it, you will do it. If your friend finds something beneath himself, you will pretend to feel the same way, even if you don’t. Your friends call you fatty, or too tall, or too serious, or too studious, or poor, as a means of “spreading laughter” but you begin to wonder whether you’re worthy of being liked at all, because what they think of you is of utmost importance. Strike Two.
Adulting is hard on everybody, because it begins to feel like you have been left to protect yourself on the battlefield with no training, or arms, whatsoever. It is during these situations that we begin to look for comfort in likeminded individuals, and start dating. Unless you were fortunate enough to find somebody perfect for you, chances are you will date many people, before settling on the one. Every single fight with a partner, every single break-up, would seem as a reason to remain unloved, and imperfect in this repulsive, deformed manner. Strike Three.
Three strikes and thirty years of life later, you realise how emotionally damaged you have become. You have spent your life surrounded by people who have, unintentionally perhaps, slowly lowered down every self-esteem parameter to practically zero, by nit-picking on the qualities you disliked about yourself, and making you doubt the things you liked about yourself. You have spent a third of your life letting somebody else control how you saw yourself, how you behaved, how you felt. You looked for validation in the wrong place.
You have let people gain so much control over everything in your life, that you forget that the most important thing is to love yourself, first. To be able to look into the mirror and see yourself for who you are, no filters, no pessimism and no optimism. To see what is real. To see the good and the bad. To take the bad and make it into something better, useful to you.
You have let those insecurities been thrown at you, violently, and taken beating after beating, while not understanding that you are not the monster you think you are. You are human. A good individual with flaws, just like everybody else.
Don’t be guided by the words of people who hurt you only to feel better about themselves. Find yourself, cherish the person you are, and work to be the person you want to become. Stop trying to please everybody around you, because Homo Sapiens are a ‘hard to satisfy’ species, and you will end up disappointing someone or the other. Look for confirmation within yourself. What you do must align with what you believe in. Remember:
Wounds that were created out of external validation never heal, because they are rooted in the belief that you deserve to bear them.