the self esteem thing

Something amazing happened to me on Friday: I got my acceptance letter from the University of North Carolina School of Public Health.

I cannot. Freaking. Believe it.

I think about my mediocre math GRE (and the fact that the score was two years old when I submitted it), I think about my (only) good (not great) college and (only) good (not great) GPA, I think about the fact that I took my hard science prerequisites at community college, and I go, WHY ON EARTH WOULD THE SECOND BEST PUBLIC HEALTH PROGRAM IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY (ranked higher than Harvard!) accept me?!?!?!

The good news is that I feel that amazing feeling inside- a feeling many wise people have described to me, everyone from my mother to my friend of ten years Andrea, with whom I shared tea and celebration today- the feeling of looking back and seeing all of the little steps that you took in your life that you weren’t sure about as they were happening suddenly revealing themselves to’ve all led you here.

Still, there’s a feeling of not-good-enough-itis that I’ve had lingering in me my whole adult life. There are few matters in this world in which I truly feel confident in my abilities. Cooking is one, but it’s all pretty objective to me (following a recipe and/or inventing something with a lot of cheese is not difficult). Being a good listener is another, but to me being a good listener is incredibly easy because all you have to do is sit there and people tell you fascinating and salacious details about their lives. I finally seem to’ve beaten not-thin-enough-itis, though it occasionally has a little flare up. But the big things, man?

Being good at a job, feeling confident? That is really hard! I heard off the record at a work happy hour that 50 people applied for my job. While someone with healthy self esteem might go, “Go me! I must be well qualified and interview well!”, I went, “OH MY GOD I BET THEY ARE ALREADY REGRETTING HIRING ME!” And interpersonal relationships in the workplace, blecch. I am almost as preoccupied with getting people to like me at work as I am in the rest of my life.

But that, the desire to be liked, I think has motivated the vast majority of my life’s decision making. I have, as most of you who’ve made the transition from the old to new blog have figured out, left my previous Americorps position in Durham. Lots of things went down there, some of which I’m not able to discuss without compromising some families’ privacy. But truthfully, even with the psycho-crazy director at one of the sites, even with the pitiful money, what truly dragged me out the door of that job in which I could see myself making a difference, see myself effecting change, what did me in was feeling like none of my immediate coworkers liked me. In my friendships and romantic relationships, without going into a lot of detail, I get scared that there are underlying things in me- insensitivity, bossiness, yadda yadda- that are inherently unlikeable.

Anyway, the journey here, to school acceptance, has been far from linear. Crazy jobs, a crazy journey with mental and physical health. And yet, I feel the need to get some self esteem together. If nothing else, feeling good about myself seems necessary as a measure of gratitude to all the wonderful people who got me here. My godmother, who inspired me to be an RD someday. My mom, who has never told me what to do or pressured me to do something or really even suggested anything. The really really good shrink who got me out of a scary cycle in my life. Steve, who takes me out of my comfort zone to go adventuring and who’s done his absolute best to handle the transition to North Carolina (my big idea!) and the little dramas I’ve brought with grace. The roommate I found on Craigslist who’s turned out to be a great friend.

I have a job that is an absolute blessing- it shocks me how much I enjoy the material of my work and the company of my coworkers. And I got into the school of my dreams. Is this the closest one can get to a cure for the not good enoughs? A sustained period of looking out at success around you? Gratitude to God for giving you all of this, and a need to do good with it?

Anyway. Hopefully I will!


2 thoughts on “the self esteem thing

  1. I made the journey from old to new blog. 🙂 Still can’t remember how I ever came across it (and I feel slightly creepy haha) but many congratulations on your acceptance to the program!! I spent a lot of time considering applying to the same program (with a focus in Maternal Health) but have shifted to social work after getting in the field after my return from Korea.

    I’m looking at UofWashington… which has one of the top MSW programs in the country and find myself feeling the same as you (not good enough). If you were accepted, you are MORE than good enough. 🙂 Be proud of yourself!!

    • Um, part of the reason I switched to WordPress was so I could actually exchange comments with people who commented on my blog! I grew up in Washington State and everyone I know who went to UofWashington had a great experience. And we need more MSWs! You are going great places!

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