In high school, you could say I suffered from a bit of social anxiety. At the grocery store checkout line, upon signing my receipt, my right hand would shake and I wasn’t able to look the clerk in the eye. In conversation with acquaintances or people I didn’t know well, I was always more concerned with how I was composing myself and with what I should say next than I was with listening to what the other person was saying. My face frequently turned red anytime I was nervous or got around someone I wanted to impress.
My thoughts constantly turned inward and I was plagued by insecurity. In hindsight, I see that I was partly miserable because I was self-focused; and I was self-focused because I was miserable. I believed by turning all my energy inward I could fix myself, become my ideal self and make people accept and like me. Unfortunately, that plan didn’t work out for me and at the age of eighteen I found myself signing papers that I was a danger to myself.
… the more I try to fix myself, the more captive I become. However, the more I rest in my intrinsic value and worth, the more freedom I experience.
While my journey from severe depression and amidst mental health challenges has been multi-faceted, one thing I have learned is this: The more I try to fix myself, the more captive I become. However, the more I rest in my intrinsic value and worth, the more freedom I experience. Additionally, the more I forget myself, the more wide-awake I am to the people and experiences around me.
C.S. Lewis penned the famous words, “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” I would add to his words this: Thinking of yourself less, frees you to think of others more.
I’ve discovered the further I take a genuine interest in other people, the more secure I am with who I am. One beauty secret is this: You will become more beautiful in one day by loving other people, than you will in one year by trying to get other people to love you. I now believe in the splendidness and freedom of self-forgetfulness.
Image via Abbey Williamson