Sunday, March 05, 2006
I'm Okay, You're Okay
It's no coincidence that under the heading Cruisin-mom, are the words: "ramblings of a 50 year old".
Turning 50 is significant, a milestone, a road marker, if you will. Now, I really didn't do anything extraordinary to get here. Lot's of people turn 50. I'm well aware of that.
But when it happens to you, you tend to take notice.
I like to kid alot about looking good and having a funny personality, for someone 50, that is.
Make no mistake. All of that is bravado. It's the swagger I display to cover up what's really there.
What's really there, you ask? Well, where do I begin?
If you look back to my post about myself and David Letterman, that might provide the first clue. How good can a little girl feel when her teeth enter a room before she does? (My luck. Some women have their breasts enter a room before they do. Nope, not me. ME?...teeth.)
I was ridiculously shy growing up. Heaven forbid a teacher call on me in class. It was all I could do not to be noticed. Just try doing that with those teeth.
I quietly forged along, never feeling very good inside, or out, for that matter. I'm not alone in those feelings, I know that. Many kids grow up feeling low and wondering what and who they will become.
What is self-esteem anyway? How do you achieve a healthy dose of it? Some think it comes from parents telling their children how wonderful they are.
In the 80's, a trend began, to give every child on a team a trophy, whether or not they won the game; whether or not a child achieved excellence. The thought was, that no child should feel like a "loser".
Around this time, our school district spent thousands of dollars to change the report card format. Instead of the usual A,B,C, D, and F...the children were to be graded with S=Satisfactory; N=Needs Improvement; or E=Excellent. The teachers were ready to lose their minds. Their work load was significantly increased, and all for...WHAT?
So our children wouldn't have low self-esteem when they saw a D on their report card. Apparently, an N is much easier to swallow. While this was all well-intentioned...it wasn't realistic. The world is a competitive place. If you want to get ahead, you must work hard and achieve.
The report card was a big flop and changed back to the regular format the following year.
While it's true that children need to hear positive feedback from the people who love them...there truly is no substitute for personal achievement.
My mother could have told me I was wonderful until we were both blue in the face and my teeth fell off. But here is the truth...
Until I began sticking my neck out, working hard, taking risks, and seeing myself achieve...there was nothing anyone could have said to raise my self-esteem.
There is no substitute for personal achievement...plain and simple.
And, so throughout my 20's, 30's and 40's...I worked hard to do things that would increase my "left-over" view of myself from childhood. I began forcing myself to speak in front of groups; conversing with people I might have been terrified to speak with years ago; confronting new and scary situations, and finding I could survive.
So, that brings me here...to 50. I feel pretty good. Now I can stand up before a group to speak without the worry that my teeth arrived and began speaking first. (okay, a little orthodonture helps)
I can sit here and tell myself (and you) I'm funny, because, even if I'm really not...who cares, I'm 50.
As for how I look at 50?...it doesn't really matter.
Because every line on my face, every inch of cellulite, every age spot (which, by the way, are great for playing connect the dots when you're bored) all add up to one thing...
They are the road map to my life. I've earned each and every one of those wrinkles and spots.
They are what give me the self-esteem to say (translation: to be completely delusional)...
Hey, I look great for 50, and I'm funny as hell.
(Besides, you don't know what I really look like...so what's a little lie among friends?)