Well, Aren’t You Special?

So…a few years ago, just before I began the fake family reunions, and I was dealing with my decision to no longer see my family, I asked many good friends to write reports about what they liked about me. One of the more uncomfortable moments of my life, being a Midwesterner and all, but they came through with shining aplomb, and I have used that document during dark times to buoy myself up, especially around the holidays when I’m missing a family and cursing Norman Rockwell in the dark.

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Today’s task is even harder. Today I am going to write good things about myself, the things that I think. And, by God, you think asking other people to write things about you is hard!!! I mean, we Midwesterners, we just don’t go in for this stuff. Might be all right for some…

But it must be done. And I will use for my spring board the fact that David said he liked the energy he was seeing in me yesterday, as I’ve started to take better care of myself, and stopped focusing on expectations and proof of my worth.

Yes, okay, if you’re not interested, get off the boat now. Take small children firmly by the hand, etc. etc.

My efforts in the past have been well-intentioned, but not necessarily wise. See, as a child ill-liked, from a family ill-liked, I felt that there were two paths to acceptance. The first was to be thought of well because of all the cool things I’d accomplished. The second was to be what we called “a full-service friend” yesterday at the appointment. If I had prioritized you as my friend, I would smother you with too much loyalty, friendliness, that sort of thing, often at the expense of my own desires of the moment. I would carry things as close to perfection as I could in the constraints I had been given.

Perfectionism is an enemy. Perfectionism means sometimes that you will sacrifice your self care for a goal that might be ephemeral; that the image is more important to you than your own well-being.

So…what’s good about me? There are some things that I think are innate in spite of my hang ups, and there are other things that are up and coming that I’m looking forward to.

I am really, really funny. If you know me, you know this is true. Being funny is a skill that I developed to cover up my emotions, but overall, it’s still great. My humor puts people at ease, makes me charismatic in the classroom, disarms people, and helps them relax or take themselves less seriously. I think that the sense of humor has served me well in all my endeavors. I like this part of myself.

I am curious. Paired with a certain amount of intelligence, this makes me clever, and it also makes me interested naturally in things like research and trying new things. Therefore, I am an open individual, open to new experiences.

At the same time, I know what I’m about. I know the kinds of rules I will and won’t break. This doesn’t make me rigid. For example, I don’t believe that it is appropriate to be unkind. I am a monogamist, and that really works for me, and although I have had proposals to the contrary and have nothing against polygamy, I believe in that special, loyal bond between two people in a great relationship. I subscribe to what I’ve always thought of as a “gentleman’s code” because I read a great deal of old fashioned fiction as a kid. Nowadays I discard the colonial bits and try to think of this code more in terms of being a secular humanist. I will quit a job for censorship. I will fight against bullying in the workplace. I am the strong advocate for the oppressed. All these things I have done in my various workplaces.So, I feel solid .

I’m working toward being relaxed and flexible. I laugh more to break up the worry and the spinning. I negotiate circumstances, rather than feel that my plans have been ruined. I am not completely at a place where I don’t do things I don’t want to do, but I am in a place where I minimize those things with choices, such as no longer taking papers home on the weekend, or taking breaks, or saying no. I am trying to be, rather than to be a goal. These are all important changes.

I am also working on loving myself as I am. It is so easy to find fault. I’m fat, and I’m not published and I work too hard can become easily I love my curves and I love creating and I love serving my students with the flick of the right switch.

When you love yourself more, you want to take care of yourself, which is why exercise and weight loss. When you love yourself more, you want to be happy, which is why I refuse to be a golem of accomplishment any longer. I am determined to be happy by my own lights, but I am more determined to FEEL happy.

I guess what I am learning is how to take care of myself, and how to live in the world and see things with my own senses, rather than try to fold myself into something that I think others want me to be. That’s a pretty powerful place to come to, to give yourself permission to be who you are, and leave the rest of it behind you.

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Today…the stitches come out! Good bye Frankenstonian holiday decoration! And some writing and a late afternoon meeting and a little produce shopping. You? How are you treating yourself nicely today?

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

2 thoughts on “Well, Aren’t You Special?”

  1. Is the lady who says, “Well, aren’t you special?” the same one who says, “Well, it isn’t my kind of art,” with a certain emphasis on ‘my?’ Because that’s who I hear saying it.

    Here is a secret I have been wrestling with. You can’t function effectively when you bullshit yourself, and that goes for recognizing good things as well as bad. It is embarrassing, but life is ridiculous.

    From the distance at which I observe you, you’re impressive as hell, just so you know.

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