I hate to be criticized. That’s one of the most significant things I learned at school this quarter. Displaying our Business Logo projects on the big screen to be poked and picked apart–my design was first and I took the critiques personally. Then I was hurling my own criticisms at the critics.
“Your business card looks crowded,” I pointed out to Rochelle. I guessed that Justin’s logo was intended for a feminine products company. I threw in some compliments to balance things out because I could feel that I was on a bender.
Later, sitting at my laptop, working on my own designs, a wave of gratefulness washed over me. And I wanted more. More criticisms. More insight into what everyone thinks of me. I hate it and I crave it all at once.
In class this quarter, I learned that I am polarizing. There were six other people and three of them loved me while the other three of them hated me, I could feel it. I didn’t ask why they hated me but I can make some good guesses. I’m very immature at times, competitive, I don’t hold back with my opinion. And maybe they thought I was stupid. I tell myself they just didn’t get me.
So why did the other three love me? I am funny. Even though Justin didn’t laugh about it, I joked all quarter like we were locked in a design battle. Like the whole purpose of the class was for me to defeat him at some game that was really just in my head.
One day, as I left class, I said, “You have been a formidable opponent today, Justin.” He just shook his head and said, “I didn’t ask for this.”
I also made some good jokes about skid marks and dingle berries because I am basically just a four year old. I am genuinely nice to other people, always willing to lend my notes or pause my own project to answer a question. And I’m smart, dammit. Smart enough to get a better grade than those three assholes who think I’m stupid.
If you think I’m stupid, though, you’re in good company. No one could ever hate me more than I hate myself. Even though sometimes I feel confident, very certain that I am smart and will do great things… other times I can’t stop the voices that drift in and out of my head.
“I hate myself,” they say.
“I’m a terrible mother, a bad wife.”
“I can’t write, I can’t design, I’m stupid.”
The next moment I am plotting to take over the world.
I am bipolar. And although I take a mood stabilizer, I am off of my antidepressant. I have been weepy and down, short-fused. But more creative. I love harder when I’m not taking an anti-depressant.
Either way, when I’m on an anti-depressant or not, at times I feel like a disappointment. Never, ever a good enough mom. That is my biggest self-criticism. That I don’t do enough for them, I’m too self-involved. My big sister reinforces this when she hangs out with my kids. Always feeling their foreheads, pointing out little blemishes on their skin which may be (but are not) infected. Once she thought my daughter was autistic because she tip-toed so often.
I’m not good enough for them, she seems to be saying. I’m not caring enough, not observant. Talking too much about my own designs or ideas. Not enough about my daughters and their lives.
I also feel like a bad mom whenever I’m on Pinterest. I’m disorganized, not very creative, I’m shit at meal planning.
But that other voice in my head tries so hard to be heard.
“You love them so much and it shows,” it says.
“You would die for them.”
“You are teaching them to care for themselves.”
It’s true that my girls are incredible. They are independent because I don’t overdo it for them. They make their own lunches and remember things for themselves. From me they have learned to love other people, to be open-minded. To be a good friend. To always stick up for the underdog.
I will not pass my insecurities along to them. That’s what I tell myself. Those negative voices will stay in my head. I never put myself down out loud. I even say nice things about myself so that they can hear them. I say nice things about other women, too. And even men sometimes.
Having three daughters has made me desperate to love myself. Not for me, but for them. In the process I am becoming a better woman than I have ever been before.
I am making mistakes but I am getting it right, too. I am trying my very best. I am not perfect but I don’t deserve to be hated. I have done and will continue to do great things. You can criticize me and it will only make me better.
I am good enough, I am smart enough, and dog-gone-it, (half of the) people like me.