If I wrote out a list of all the people who regularly criticized me it would simply be a waste of paper and ink. There would only be one name written across the sheet and it would be my own. Ever since I was little, I found myself criticizing myself every day and all the time. I would have a conversation with one of my classmates and walk away thinking of all the wrong things I said. Similarly, in my years of sports, I rarely remember leaving any games, practices or tournaments feeling proud of my performance. I would get in the car and mentally go over all the mistakes I made that day. Not only is this habit exhausting, but, let’s face it, it’s downright unhealthy.
Because of my constant overthinking, I found that I lost a great deal of confidence in my social, academic, and athletic life. However, I am slowly beginning to realize a very frustrating concept: most of the things I criticize myself about, most people do not (1) remember or (2) notice.
One time, I listened to a lesson on confidence and the speaker provided an interesting perspective. She discussed how most people often find themselves up late at night thinking about embarrassing moments they had experienced in middle school. She then continued on to note that when we start to go down this mental path, we should stop and consider this thought –Can I think of a scenario when I witnessed someone else’s embarrassing moment? I don’t know about you, but I struggled to think of a time when I had witnessed someone say or do something super embarrassing.
This exercise made me realize that most of the things that I criticize myself about are not worth my personal mental fist-fight. I could tell myself “I am never talking in class ever again” or I can consider the fact that by lunch time all my classmates will forget that I thought the answer was 7 when it was 8. I could tell myself “I am the worst athlete on the team. I am holding everyone back.” or I can simply watch the next practice and realize our star player makes the same mistake at least 6 times in a two-hour gap.
If you resonate with any of this, believe me when I say that we as humans have the capacity to be our worst critic, but also our greatest cheerleader. I do not expect that we can ever fully, totally, and completely give up self-criticism, but we can certainly make an effort to build ourselves up in place of this as often as possible.
Always remember that you are loved, valued, and unique. Even on days when you can’t see it, you are more than your mistakes.
By: Courtney Corrente