QUESTION OF THE WEEK
No one is born with shame. Instead, somewhere along the way we believed someone who told us we are flawed, not good enough, or not worthy of love and belonging. Eventually, we start acting on those beliefs. They start trickling into our psyche and effect every move we make in the world. They stay deeply buried in the parts of our soul we keep hidden until we acknowledge the painful lie that was told to us.
Every week we will ask our community a question and share your answers in a blog post. This is our way of ensuring everyone in our #digitaltent has to be opportunity to be seen and heard. I can’t think of a better question to launch this series with: When was the first time you were told you weren’t good enough?
Down below are some of your answers.
In fourth grade. Then eight grade. Then eleventh grade. Then senior year of college. Then second year of my Masters. I went on to get my doctorate, open a thriving medical practice, despite being told I could never get here. I salute all the teachers with a great double middle finger. The process of telling me I am not good enough, did not instill me with a stronger drive to prove them wrong, but rather with a deep rooted sense of “I cannot ever please anyone”, horrific testing anxiety, and a constant need to prove myself valuable. I am where I am now, with the support of my family and love, who encouraged me to continue despite what teachers would tell me. They would always be there as I would get knocked down, and they would look at alternatives to overcome each time.
When I was 8 years old my mom convinced me to try a diet with her and to join softball so I could exercise more. Diets have always been something my family has pushed on me because I’ve been overweight. I was never taught to love the body I had and it sent me spiraling into a place of self hatred. I’m still trying to get out of it. Sometimes I still don’t feel good enough.
My mum’s friend when I was 14 said I was very pretty but needed to make sure I didn’t get any side on/profile photos of myself because my chin sticks out too much. I had never had an issue with my face or chin until that moment. It was the first timeI realized I would be judged on my looks and that I had to fit inside a pretty box to be considered actually pretty.
I was in grade 4 or 5 when I came home from school with a 98% on a test, excited to tell my dad because well. His response was “what happened to the other two percent”. While he said it jokingly, I spent a lifetime seeking his approval.
The first time I was told was a long long time ago, but the first time I believed it was last year. I have struggled with infertility. My husband and I finally got serious about it, so I went to my OBGYN and in so many words I was told I was “too fat” to be a good mother. That I wasn’t good enough to do something that my body is made to do, something I yearn to do. It absolutely killed my spirit for wanting to be pregnant.
In 5th grade, my teacher told me in front of the entire class that my work ethic and good grades were going to cause me to burn out early, and turned to the trouble making boy next to me and said boys like him would always be more successful in life. He estimated that I would make it through high school but wind up “falling apart” in college because my dedication to my work wasn’t sustainable. I can’t tell you how many times I have let that conversation cause me so much stress, shame, & self doubt. When I fell down a rabbit hole of depression & anxiety in college (caused by a badly prescribed medicine I should never have taken), I often found myself feeling like that teacher’s prophecy had come true. In all honestly, the comment still arises often in my hardest moments, as if egging me on towards failure.
When I was in elementary school (2nd grade), my teacher told me I wasn’t good enough for the math class so every time she was in the class, she asked me to sit outside the classroom.
In high school, I told my teacher I wanted to get my Master’s in international political science. She looked at me and laughed. “Why would you do that? Your parents are in the social sector. You should do the same.” I am the daughter of Congolese political refugees. I worked very hard in college. I doubted myself often, and felt like I wasn’t good enough for a classroom full of students that didn’t look like me. Next week, I am teaching a history class at my old high school. That teacher still works there.
photography found through Unsplash