"Why aren't you good enough? Who told you this?" asks my kindly Korean therapist. Well, I answer, no one ever told me. In fact, I've never earnestly been called stupid, unfunny, or untalented. Even my worst rejection has been dampered with compliments; when a boy I was desperately in love at age 17 said "I'm not into you emotionally anymore, but I'm extremely physically attracted to you. Could we still hook up?", I was so pleased that I was pretty enough to attract someone based on looks my feelings weren't hurt until he stopped texting.
"I guess...this pressure comes from...inside myself?" I take my eyes off of my crotch and look her in the face for the first time in 15 minutes. While I squirm, she dons the trained poker face of an analyst. Your move.
I've been really afraid of writing in this blog. Every time I want to post a public entry, I first think of everyone who I consider smarter/funnier/prettier than I am and realize, "Ugh. Their opinions are so much more unique. What do I have to say that's so special?" I have horrible fantasies about people I respect reading something of mine and saying, "Wow. That girl's a fucking idiot." Why don't I fantasize about good things? Because I'm so afraid that, in that time, people will be trashing me and I won't notice.
Pre-puberty, I had a hugely inflated ego. I was always the kid chosen aloud to read in class, the lead in the plays, the douche to correct people on their spelling. My citizenship awards always read to the tune of "To Rachel Bloom, for being a very eager participant in class discussions" or "For being very outgoing." (Sometimes these were the only passive aggressive ways teachers could tell me I was fucking annoying).
As I grew tits, though, my self-esteem shrunk. I found myself admiring others and disparaging myself. I was scared that I wasn't the best and terrified that this meant I'd never be on Broadway. When I got to college, I got onto a sketch group, Hammerkatz, that included the smartest and most talented people I'd ever met. This time, I knew I wasn't the best (something I'd been grown to be semi-OK with) but it was the first time I convinced myself I had nothing to add to a conversation and no talent to add to a room. Every time I opened my mouth, I thought "What the fuck do you have to say that's so great?" After a while, someone had to say to me, "Rachel...you're a person in this group too. You can talk." All it took was to be given permission and I blossomed.
One of my New Year's resolution is to seek permission less. In high school, I had a freeopendiary that I wrote in at least once a week. Was it brilliant? No. Did it use big words to pump up my writing style? Sure. But it kept me writing. And, more importantly, it made me bold. On Hammerkatz, everything I write gets seen by at least 10 people before I put it in a show. But to put out my thoughts uncensored, I have to trust that I am good enough.
And that's fucking scary.