I’m going to violate my son’s guideline and speak my message.
You know who you are. Listen: You are not stupid.
You love. You lose. How could I believe anyone would actually love me — I must be stupid.
You try. You fail. Why did I think I could do that — I must be stupid.
You run. You fall. I should have just sat down. How could I be so stupid?
How could I forget to record that check?
How could I forget that bill was due?
How could I think anyone would listen to me?
How could I put myself out there as ugly as I am? Grossly fat, too thin, awkward, crippled, dumb. . . the wrong clothes, a crooked nose, a blubber belly, too short, funny ears, an old car.
Hear me now: You are not stupid. You make choices; you learn. You might make the same mistake a hundred times but you are not stupid.
If you continue to tell yourself that you are too stupid to learn, to love, to live, your path will continue to take you to the broken asphalt on which you stumble, the hole into which you fall, the door behind which you get lost.
Let go of that mantra.
Sometimes you trust people who choose not to behave in the ways you think they will behave. That’s not because you are stupid.
Sometimes you want something so much, you ignore obstacles and reach over raging fire to try to get it. That’s not because you are stupid.
A lot of my mistakes occur because I expect to fail. I’ve been telling myself lies about my inabilities and unworthiness for years, and these lies have ingrained themselves in my DNA. I won’t go so far as to say that people treat me the way I expect myself to be treated, because that’s imputing a lot of insidiousness to others and I can’t say what is in their hearts. Our worlds collide and sometimes the impact hurts.
The hardest lesson for me has been that I am not stupid for trusting just because someone does not behave the way in which I want them to behave. My second hardest lesson has been that the shambles I have often made of my life did not happen because I am stupid or because I am unworthy but in part just because life is messy. And, truth told, in part because I believed those things about myself, and turned away from the task of succeeding, letting myself fail as a silent endorsement of my self-condemnation.
Hear me now: You — you know who you are:
You are not stupid; you have been made wise by your life.
You are not ugly; your soul shines through your eyes.
You are not unworthy; you have a place at life’s bountiful table.
It’s the twenty-fourth day of the thirty-first month of My [Never-Ending] Year Without Complaining. Life continues.