The character of Stuart Smalley was created by longtime writer and part-time ‘Saturday Night Live’ cast member Al Franken. Stuart was a take-off of motivational self-help speakers and played for laughs. But as I read through Stuart’s daily affirmations, I’m beginning to think he was on to something.
Stuart’s most famous claim to fame was this:
“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”
The reason I’m talking about this is I have had low to non-existent self-esteem. This has led to panic attacks whenever something dings me or worse, and also has had me feeling like a lump of human excrement for far too long. But a little over a week ago, a thought came to me and it was this:
I’m finding a self-confidence I never knew I had.
Yep. I found the self-confidence I thought I’d lost back in the 1980’s somewhere or handed over to assholes who didn’t deserve one tiny turd from me. But I’m putting my self-confidence back together with highly-visible cracks where it was broken up and shattered at times. That’s okay because I’m learning I can weld my cracks and shards back together with stronger metals like gold and silver or platinum. Yes, those cracks are visible but I’m not ashamed of them now. And most of all, I’m not letting a hit on them send me up a tree the size of a California redwood to avoid cracks forming again.
The reason the character of Stuart Smalley came to me was despite the character being created as humorous satire, he was right. Because for me, my lack of confidence in myself and my abilities made me feel like I was never good enough, or smart enough, and worst of all, it meant people didn’t really like me.
What I truly know now is this:
Idiots, assholes, and meanies create webs where they ensnare sensitive people and feed off that sensitivity by creating rules and procedures in which no good effort is ever rewarded. It’s an environment where bad will always take precedence over good. This has been spun and gaslighted to make people think they need to hear the bad shit before the good stuff. But here’s my take on that: if mistakes are made give the person who made them the opportunity to fix them and learn from them, but under no circumstances do you ever create an expectation that they shouldn’t have made that mistake, or any mistake to begin with. This is a standard of perfection no human being can ever achieve.
I’ve always said if someone isn’t being mean, cruel, or destructive they’re doing just fine. Calling someone out for being mean, cruel, and destructive is not being a hypocrite or holding them to an impossible standard of perfection- that is called ‘accountability’. People who lack compassion and empathy don’t like being called out on it and will do everything they can to fight that, and they have no qualms about doing that in any way they can.
Telling yourself you are good enough because you’re doing your best to be a good person, to use your brain and try to think before speaking or acting is not an ego-flex and it doesn’t mean you have a ton of pride stuck up your ass. It means you believe in yourself and in your ability to do good in this world. And yes, people do like you for being good. If they don’t, there is something wrong with them and not you. I have felt shame and guilt over doing the right thing and I will never, ever let myself like that again. And if anyone tries to heap that onto me when I’m in the right, God help them because I sure as hell won’t.
So take Stuart’s advice and tell yourself you are good enough, smart enough, and yes, people do like you. This has quelled more anxiety inside me than anything ever has before. I still feel the slight manic energy of anxiety when something smacks me but if I didn’t do anything wrong, that’s okay. Keep doing what you’re doing and believe in your own strength. Because as I’ve also always said: you are so much stronger than you will ever realize.