According to the wiki page, (I am not going to search very hard today because I do not have the time.) Self-Awareness is defined:
“Self-awareness is the capacity for introspection and the ability to reconcile oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals. Self-awareness, though similar to sentience in concept, includes the experience of the self, and has been argued as implicit to the hard problem of consciousness.”
Before this last summer, I had lost virtually any self-awareness I had. I know that I had a small amount of understanding, but I was unable to detach who I was from the people in my life or my environment. They were my mirrors — they reflected and scripted for me how to act, how to respond, whom to be friends with, how I should live my life. I absorbed them trying to discover who I was. Social confusion, a faulty executive system, and no authority throughout my childhood able to guide me left me to wander around observing social dynamics in my circle of relationships. I had several women who were obsessed with weight, looks, approval seekers, and constantly hiding their intelligence surrounding me. I found my mother so confusing in this area because she would be freaked out about whether she was attractive or not one day and the next she didn’t care at all. I can pinpoint some of these events now to social confusion and anxiety.
She would only think about her outward appearance if someone mentioned it.
Same here, I normally do not think about whether I am attractive or not, unless someone makes me feel a certain way. I have additional issues because of my birthmark. (Those of you who do not know about my birthmark can read this post if you like.) Both my mother and I were ridiculed in school about the way we looked. My mom had additional abuse at home (though she will not call it that) she was abused physically, and emotionally. She was called names and made fun of by her father. From an early age for some reason, I did not put up with grandfathers hooey, I got in trouble a lot, but I was too fast and I was a good hider. He made fun of my name often, when my mom told him my name in the hospital the day after I arrived he said, “What did you name that kid? Angel-leaky? What kind of name is that?” However, with all of the ugliness there were great qualities about him too. I speak of him because unfortunately he helped pave the way to my mother’s dysfunctional view of herself — stripping her of self-awareness and self-acceptance along with his family and my grandmother’s lack of attention. My grandfather was abused as well, and since his behavior was not as horrible as what he had been raised with he did not see himself as an abuser.
It can trickle down, generation after generation.
My mom loved fashion, and being made up, she was a model for some time and loved it. No thanks! She learned how to dress and keep herself up through modeling classes. Later as I was a child, she started aiming for more managerial roles in her company. An assistant store manager who was a very confident woman took my mom under her wing, and taught her what she needed to do to work in a “man’s world”. She also had a great kind man who was her store manager who helped her. He and his family were very good to us and thanks to him; my mom was able to pave the way to her career. My mom still did not have self-awareness in an embodying sense — she now took on the identity of her workplace. That became her for over 23 years when she left she had a nervous breakdown, alone and shared with no one what she was going through. She is still seeking to discover who she is. I rejected what she was — I knew that it was not my mother.
I resented the fact that she constantly tried to make me into that mold.
Especially when I started working at the same company, for a season I became just like my mother. The day I realized what I had become I decided to quit and changed the course of my life. (It was not the only deciding factor, but I have written about that elsewhere.) I wish I would not have done it in such haste — I seem to do so many things in haste. It does not go with my character though, I am very systematic, I like to plan, and think before I do anything. There are certain instances for some reason I lose that part of me and go off in what seems like a whim. Only later left staring at the mess that I have made, and I have to pick up the pieces. I believe had I been instilled with some understanding of self-awareness many of my decisions would not have been so destructive. Many times, I was doing it because I was searching for me. What was I about? What did I like? What kind of people did I want to hang out with? My interests did not seem to mesh with most people so I felt as if I could not connect to people.
It did not occur to me to seek out like-minded people.
I managed to fall into situations with people, and then thought “Well we must be friends, or in a relationship.” It seems to “just happen”. I cannot explain it very well. If only I would have known that I was good with numbers, that I am an excellent researcher. I can dance, I have the ability to write, and I have a knack for picking trends music or otherwise. I can understand and teach science, I do not have to pretend that I am not smart, and I am fully capable of being self-sufficient in all areas….had I known! I did not. I knew nothing of this about myself. I wish I could explain it better, it sounds kind of strange to say these things. I have been so disconnected from myself — I knew these things about me. I did not know that I was allowed to do them. Even though I was the closet to me, I somehow took on the rule that someone needed to tell me that it was ok for me to do it. My reliance on others to tell me who I was distorted even more of my self-awareness. Most children do look to their parents to help them discern who they are. This is a normal part of development — they mimic and try on their parents for size until they start to discover themselves. I did not learn the “capacity for introspection and the ability to reconcile oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals.” Since I could not see myself I could not reconcile self without others informing me. Does that make sense?
My parents never knew who they were.
Their parents had some great qualities, but they also did not equip them to discover how to be the person that is inside of them. Both of my parents were severely abused, and I am not sure how that plays into all of this. They were not allowed to be themselves, which is multiple posts that I am not going into…at least not yet, maybe next year. They did not place many aspirations on me. Their aspirations however, did frequently involve appearance and morality. When I failed to discover myself on my own, I took to religion to tell me who I was. I had been using boyfriends as my guide without realizing it — I mixed my identity with work, friends, and boyfriends. I did not know how to pull from within and continue in that self-strength. I never trusted it because everyone in my life had told me that I was wrong in some form. Now there is a mix of my own distorted perceptions and actual events when people continued to tell me what was wrong with me. It really doesn’t matter the fact is it caused me to question myself, feel rejected, reject myself, and adopt whoever I thought knew what the heck they were talking about.
Wrong, wrong, wrong!
This is one reason why it is so important to teach children how to have self-awareness, and it is never too late! (It seems that I am clashing self-awareness and self-identity together — to me they feel the same. This post is a processing post anyway.) Some folks may consider me going through a mid-life crisis, or being pre-menopausal. It is possible, but the funny thing is as I have been combing over my thoughts and where my thinking is at right now, I am entering my teenage phase of true rebellion! Lol! I am stripping off all of the ideals of the generation that raised me, and I am determining my own thoughts, beliefs, and self based on how I define it. I have read that this type of development normally starts from teens onto the end of people’s twenties at times. I am being kind of cheeky here, but it does seem spot on. A few months ago, I made list of goals that I wanted to achieve this year, my number one goal “To become self-sufficient in all areas.” I want my own identity, I want to be able to trust and rely on myself. (Not in a narcissistic way, we all need people.) I want my own income again. I hate being so dependent financially. I have always had this fire inside of me to be independent, but everyone told me how incapable and dependent I was.
I didn’t realize that many of those people were projecting their own self-talk onto me.
I didn’t know that I could reject those words, and trust what I felt about myself. It is so strange how I was raised to be so dependent in one sense, yet so independent in another. I have been thinking about this stuff for a while, I would like to go into greater detail. I am not sure that I will, but this morning I was triggered to get this out because I read this article by Ashley Judd Slaps Media in the Face for Speculation Over Her ‘Puffy’ Appearance. While at first when I read it I was trying to weed through whether it was her insecurities speaking, or if it was a good article. It turns out that I found many, many excellent things in what she wrote. She is tackling our perceptions of women in society, as a woman this is very close to me. As an autistic woman, I have additional factors that play into this. My lack of self-awareness and confidence in my own “gut feelings” has led me into the hands of predators that have used and hurt me.
I speak of male and females alike.
I not only have had the confusion of men reading me the wrong way, which quite frankly if my heart is set on someone they will know exactly how I feel. I normally do not stay quiet about my feelings toward people I care deeply for. I have never played games, in romantic relationships or any other relationships. However, I normally stay quiet until I know how they feel — I never like to show affections for people first EVER! My interactions with women and the “appearance” issue have been just as confusing as it has been with men. People can read wrong signals — they are their own perceived signals, whether through desires or insecurities. I don’t understand that. If you like me tell me, if you don’t tell me it saves everyone from grief. Had some of those girls asked me if I was flirting with their boyfriends, I would have told them directly…I did not want their man. (Believe me!) Instead of asking, they would attack my appearance, or me. With this type of banter that other women have done, or how men have treated me it makes me aware of my looks. At times, it made me feel inadequate in my appearance. I do not like people to see me because I have been attacked either way.
My self-esteem was damaged because of others lack of self-esteem.
It makes me filled with questions. Why does it matter what I look like? Who am I to you? Why do you feel the need to point out what you deem as flaws, or give backhanded compliments to confuse me? I now have questions for myself as well. Why didn’t I tell that jerk off when he told me that I was fat? Why did I listen when the guys in my life compared me to other girls and constantly told me what I needed to fix? Why did I stay with them when they clearly found other’s much more attractive, enough to cheat? How did I manage to end up with guys who were always fantasizing about blondes when I am a brunette? Why didn’t I shrug off anyone who did not value me? Why did I allow my mom’s own negative self-talk conform my own image — when I knew how damaging and wrong it was? Why is our culture so confusing sexualizing everything, but condemning us for being sexually active? Oh, I have so many questions! I have to stop myself, or I will keep going.
I am going to leave with the last paragraph of Ashley Judd’s article and say thank you to her as well.
“If this conversation about me is going to be had, I will do my part to insist that it is a feminist one, because it has been misogynistic from the start. Who makes the fantastic leap from being sick, or gaining some weight over the winter, to a conclusion of plastic surgery? Our culture, that’s who. The insanity has to stop, because as focused on me as it appears to have been, it is about all girls and women. In fact, it’s about boys and men, too, who are equally objectified and ridiculed, according to heteronormative definitions of masculinity that deny the full and dynamic range of their personhood. It affects each and every one of us, in multiple and nefarious ways: our self-image, how we show up in our relationships and at work, our sense of our worth, value, and potential as human beings. Join in—and help change—the Conversation.”