We all have one thing about ourselves that we fixate on. The one thing that, like a blemish on our soul, makes us feel incapable, unworthy, and ashamed. When you’re in complete silence, alone with your thoughts, what does your mind say to you? Does it accuse you of not being beautiful, successful, or intelligent enough?
For my newest friend and author of Ugly Duckling, Golda N. Wasimin, it was feeling ugly. For decades she allowed the scars caused by keloids, a skin disorder, to manifest in the form of self-loathing and deprecation. For years, Golda allowed her keloids to scar her emotionally and affect all of the decisions in her life, big or small. Golda allowed her keloids to decide what she would wear, whether or not she’d go swimming, and ultimately whom she would date.
Golda and I chatted over coffee and found that, while we may not have the same skin disorder, we share a common condition: the effects of a negative self-image. This can be destructive to our creativity, self-esteem, and ability to make sound decisions. In her book, Golda shares how to overcome shame and find true beauty. During our conversation, she shared a little about what her journey has been like since publishing what she calls her “diary” for the world to see.
AGirlinHer30s: Describe yourself in three hashtags.
#singleandcontent #goofy #fun
AGirlinHer30s: In the book, you discuss being a perfectionist. To what extent do you think that affected you negatively?
Since I had no control of my skin, I felt I had to have control over everything else. It affected my relationships and my decision-making. For example, I used to be a tax collector where everything was so rigid. I would fight about things like how to do laundry and how the pillows should be placed in the living room. I couldn’t see that we all do things differently, so my life was bland.
AGirlinHer30s: Turning 30 shocked me, what was it like for you?
I didn’t get my confidence until thirty. In my twenties, I was seeking for happiness in external things. In my late twenties, my previous relationship ended and that made me analyze myself. I was forced to slow down and reinvent myself. So it brought about this book, Ugly Duckling. I decided to tell the world my story because I wanted to tell younger generations not to make all the same mistakes I made in my 20s.
AGirlinHer30s: Is feeling shame the same as experiencing self-doubt?
It is in the sense that I sought approval from other people. I needed validation that I was pretty. Then, I realized that when you get it, it doesn’t help because that feeling of validation from others can only last for so long. It only lasts a couple of minutes.
AGirlinHer30s: So the hard part is-
Living a life of acceptance and loving yourself when you’re still single.
AGirlinHer30s: Women in their thirties handle their friendships differently than when they were in their twenties. What’s your take on friendships at thirty?
I’m so lazy! I’m that low-maintenance friend. I have to be, because most women in their thirties are busy with their careers, families, relationships. All of my friends may be in a different place than I am. Even though we don’t see each other every day- when we do, we still reconnect. But now, I am forced to have different relationships with different people. I have one friend whom I spend time with by cooking in her kitchen because she has a family. I have another friend who is an elderly widow and we make travel plans together. I am forced to have different relationships with different people because I understand that we are all at different stages in our lives.
AGirlinHer30s: What advice do you give to women who are at the point you were three years ago- at the end of a romantic relationship, disillusioned by the loss of material things, feeling ugly?
It is so cliché but- don’t settle. First of all, have standards. And then, don’t lower your standards. Don’t be in a relationship with someone who isn’t good enough for you because you think that’s the best you can get to love you. Don’t accept a marriage proposal only because you think no one else can love you. Don’t settle.
There is a real danger in allowing shame and negative perceptions of ourselves to wear us down mentally and physically. A negative self-image can cause us to experience social anxiety and will be perceptible in almost every decision that we make. So, what can you do to overcome?
What can you do if you’re experiencing difficulty with overcoming negative, self-destructive feelings?
5 Tips for Overcoming a Negative Self-Image[i]:
- Explore art therapy.
- Build up your faith (ask me how I do it).
- Eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly.
- Focus on building your character (the qualities than can be listed on a resume).
- Seek professional help if it gets to be too overwhelming or interferes with your day-to-day.