Stopping for Air: is it okay to criticise ourselves? 

It is natural to be self critical. It’s human nature I suppose- we critique and attempt (often unsuccessfully!) to improve ourselves and being self aware and in turn critical is all part of that.
But I have been thinking about this a lot recently.
When I was at primary school, every single school report or parents evening, or comment from a teacher went something along the lines of, “she is very chatty” or “she talks too much.” I became very used to being called a chatterbox and even described myself in this way for many years. At that age, I didn’t really pick up on the fact that the comments were being said in a negative way, but they were. And as I grew up, this became more apparent.
“Do you ever stop for air?”

“Do you breath out of your ears when you talk that fast?”

“No one else has a word in edgeways!”
These are just a few of the things that people say to me on a regular basis. Very regular in fact. And of all the insults I have ever received, for some reason these are the ones that go the deepest. The people that deliver them are often close friends or family and I know they don’t mean any harm and would never intentionally mean to upset me, but it really does. And it has made me so self conscious that I have left a poetry reading class that I was speaking at tonight beating myself up because I spoke a lot. I spent the whole walk to the train station thinking to myself, “oh god Emily I bet they were all thinking ‘I wish she would shut up!'”
This happens after every social event I go to now.
And yet I keep bloody talking! It is totally in my nature, always has been and is something I am literally incapable of controlling. In social situations I have to take part in conversation, laugh and joke and push myself forward, and now people expect me to. But when those inevitable comments occur about the amount I am talking I instantly feel a huge sense of shame and embarrassment and immediately want to cry and never speak again. This sounds totally over dramatic but it really does bother me. And it has led to me being incredibly self critical, I found myself apologising tonight for talking too much, as I often do.
I critique every part of myself, I’m not good enough at my job, I don’t have enough money, I am not successful enough, and I’m not bloody thin enough. This one is ridiculous. Every morning I wake up and mentally shout abuse at myself for the way I look, apologising to my boyfriend every time I see him for looking a mess, making excuses so that I don’t feel embarassed for looking the way I do.
And it’s so stupid. One of the poems in the class I read tonight talked about being in control of your own happiness and how this comes from within. This is so painfully true. I am a self proclaimed gobby cow, and no matter how much I try to change, I always will be. I’m heavier, skinter and more paranoid than I want to be, but hey, life’s too short to waste my time worrying about that. I will change the things I can, but I’m not going to apologise anymore for being who I am.

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