“Meg, I wasn’t always like this,” I said into the screen.
I was an hour into a two-and-a-half hour Skype date with my friend Meg. I told you about Meg before—we became friends three years ago when I interviewed her for an article. Meg is a nutritionist and self-love expert. Yes that’s a job. And she owns it.
“Babe!” Two quick things about Meg: She will always call you babe and she will always text you that she loves you. Meg loves everyone.
All sorts of insecurities are running through my head lately. I second-guess myself. I make stupid mistakes. I allow people to intimidate me. It’s gotten so bad I find myself stuttering or being incoherent when I speak.
The article I wrote on Meg told her story of battling anorexia throughout childhood and into her teens. If you met her today, you’d never guess this relentless optimist is also the girl who once threw her lunches away in the cafeteria.
Long story short, I knew she’d get it.
The voice inside your head is not who you are.
“You have to remember that this is not who you are. Whenever that voice comes into your head saying you should act a certain way, you have to ignore it.”
“But how am I supposed to do that??”
For as long as I can remember, I had a commanding presence. I spoke my mind. I presented arguments I like to think were logical. I made underclassmen nervous in high school. I was persuasive in speech as well as in writing, and people were shocked as hell when it was my nicest-guy-in-the-world brother who became the lawyer of the family, not me. That’s the girl I was.
And that girl better get her tan ass off whatever island she’s vacationing on and come back, because I need her here.
“My dad once told me something that really stuck with me,” Meg said, “He’s deaf in one ear, and has only forty percent hearing in the other. Sometimes, he misunderstands things. Never once did he let it bother him.
“He’s always been a let-it-roll-off-your-shoulder kind of person. When I was in high school, and people thought I was the little weird girl with an eating disorder, he told me, ‘No one can control how you feel about yourself but you. No one has the power to make you feel a certain way—only you have that power.’ So when you hear that voice inside your head telling you to be intimidated and making you feel small, you need to ignore it.”
You are the only person who can control how you feel. Don’t give someone else that power.
When Meg described my insecurities as a voice—as this stupid megaphone that came without an off switch—it matched how I felt. It’s like I’m walking down the street, minding my own damn business, and this person keeps tapping me on the shoulder reminding me I have no f#*(&ing clue what I’m doing.
I’m ready to punch that voice in the face.
If there is one thing I believe, it’s this: Everyone has insecurities. Everyone. Even the most self-assured, walks with swag, homecoming king extrovert has insecurities. Every person has a voice breathing negativity down their neck. It’s just one only they can hear.
You are the only person who can hear that self-deprecating voice. Therefore you are the only one with the power to shut that fucker up.
There will be days when you doubt yourself. You will sit in a conference room and cry that you’re failing at your job. You’ll panic when you step on the scale and say you’ll never get back in shape. You’ll think your friends are mad at you when they’re not. You’ll think your boyfriend thinks you’re fat, your coworkers think you’re a moron, and your parents think you’re throwing your life away.
You will make up stories about complete strangers, and assume the guy standing next to the dumbbells at the gym, the girl behind you at the grocery line, or the group of nobodys at the party are staring at you thinking, “This bitch has no idea what’s up.”
Ninety-five percent of people are too preoccupied with their own lives to critique yours. For the five percent you aren’t, fuck them. To the dick who cut you in line, took your squat rack, or sneered at your report; do not give them the power or satisfaction to get inside your head. Take gratification in knowing they’re wasting their life being worried about yours, and shove it.
There is only one voice allowed in your head, and that’s yours. Only you can determine what it says.
Make sure it’s sending the right message.