Taylor Leddin staff mug

Taylor Leddin staff mug

For a good deal of my life, I have spent too much time comparing myself to others and worrying about what others think of me.

In social situations, I would get way too much in my head about the impression I was giving. Was I being too smart? Was I not being smart enough? Am I smiling enough? Am I making too much eye contact?

And not only that, but I was rarely present in social situations because I was being far too introspective. This doesn’t stop with concerns about myself, as I often find myself observing more than participating. This might explain why I like writing …

I’m not unique in this; everyone has had times of worry about how they’re coming across or wondering what people think. When it comes down to it, it’s likely we don’t truly want to know what people are thinking about us.

It wasn’t until recently I came to a few conclusions. Firstly, most everyone is concerned with what they’re doing that they aren’t analyzing every single thing I do. Secondly, and more important, I wasn’t taking the time to give thought to what I thought of me.

And when faced with the internal question of, “What do I think of myself?” I felt a little stumped. Sure, I like myself. I don’t think I’m a bad person. I’m pretty nice to people and have been known to crack a good joke or two.

But what I came to realize was what I was giving on the outside isn’t what I was giving on the inside. Let me explain.

I’m typically pretty patient and forgiving with people, but I can be hard on myself when making a mistake. I like to think that I give pretty good advice, but I was bad at following it myself. Additionally, I had a hard time sharing my emotions.

I’ve found it easy to be kind to others but have a hard time being kind to myself. Why was that?

It’s not as if I only have so much kindness in me that I’m using it up on the outside world. There’s enough to go around but I had a hard time coming to terms with the fact that I was deserving of self-kindness.

It wasn’t something I could just take a course on for a quick fix. This would be a time-consuming effort. But after years of not being nice to myself and feeling the emotional repercussions of that, I decided it was time to put the work in.

From reading self-help books to going to therapy to speaking more openly about my thoughts and feelings with those I trust, I was able to start on a journey of getting to know myself better. When I would catch myself thinking or saying something negative about myself, I would stop and think about it and often would find I would become forgiving of myself.

This journey isn’t over, in fact it’ll be a lifelong process. But looking back to a few years ago when I decided to start putting in the work, I can truly say that I see and feel results. And that feels pretty good.

So, back to that initial question: What do I think of myself? Well, right now I think I’m vulnerable (and maybe a little embarrassed to be sharing bits of an internal strife), but that’s OK — it’s part of the process.

Now, take a moment to ask yourself: What do you think of you?

Taylor Leddin is the Life editor at the Daily Journal and is the editor of Lifestyles of Kankakee County. Her column, “A Taylor-Made Life,” publishes every Saturday in the Life section. She can be contacted by phone 815-937-3369, email tleddin@daily-journal.com or via Twitter @leddinlife.