Learning Trust in Myself

Hi, everyone! It has been a really long time since I posted, and I am so sorry about that! However, I am hoping to begin posting a lot more now. I’ve been feeling especially inspired to write recently, especially since starting school again in NYC. Yes, you read that correctly: I’m back in school and living like a city girl! This September I came back to college after a few years off, at Columbia University. It was a huge step for me, and I am thrilled that the transition both into city living and into the academic world has been relatively smooth so far. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure if it would be, and that is something that has had me quite frequently revisiting the theme of Trust. What does it mean to trust myself? My capabilities? My support systems? My decisions? My independence?

Let’s break it down.

Firstly, let’s acknowledge the fact that trust is not easy, nor do I ever expect it to be. Most of this lies in the fact that trust means dropping guard walls and relinquishing control. It means respect and faith in the person or thing that you have chosen to trust. It’s a full commitment. There’s no successful way to “partially trust.” Imagine doing a trust fall with a partner. Would you ever actually let yourself fall if you only somewhat thought they would catch you? No! Your body’s natural defenses wouldn’t let you commit an act with a partner who you somewhat thought may drop you on your head. You would only do that trust fall if you believed the other person would catch you: if you fully trusted them. Yet, to fully trust is to give up the control that us humans so viciously defend. With control comes the safety of knowing the exact outcomes of every action you take or situation you put yourself into, and trust rips that from our hands. That’s a scary thought, to give up something you spend so much energy on holding on to, which makes it so understandable why trust is less than prevalent in our lives.

There it is: trust is hard. So if it’s hard, then why do it? What does trust offer us that control doesn’t? This is or course a multi-pronged answer, but for me at this point in my life it offers confidence. Of all of the relationships that I have, the one that I struggle with trusting the most is the one with myself. Moving to the city has brought this to the surface, as I am now faced with a whole new set of challenges, and of course living alone in a place very different from Connecticut. So many doubts crept up when school started, among them questions of if I’m “smart” enough for Columbia, if people will like me, and if I can manage my own apartment and take care of daily “adult” tasks. These thoughts were utterly pervasive. The first paper that I had to write was probably the most nerve wracking paper I had ever written, as I kept questioning how the Professor would view my work in comparison to the other students’ work, especially since it was the first paper I’d written in several years. What if I couldn’t write anymore? Along those lines, the first conversations I had with new friends were happy and cordial, yet still I wondered if they liked who I was, or god forbid what I looked like. Writing it back now, it sounds like crazy talk, but it was real. I was lacking trust in almost every aspect of myself, and it was hurting my ability to experience life.

I know I’m not alone in these feelings. Humans are blessed with metacognition, or the ability to be conscious of our own consciousness, giving us incredible complexity and the ability to live the way we do, but this double edged sword also comes swooping back to slice us because we are so aware of the person who lives inside our own bodies and how she/he/they interact with the other self-aware humans around her/him/them. This acute awareness leads to insecurity, something we all possess in some shape or form. We all struggle to trust. It’s human.

Struggle, however, does not have to equal defeat. So how then, do we defeat the tendency to resist trusting ourselves? The answer is a hard one because the easiest way to say it is to say “just trust.” But where does that get us? Trusting is the problem, here! So instead, what I’ve started doing to help myself learn to trust myself again is to affirm what I know. I state the facts and the feelings I have around them. What evidence is there that I will not be “smart” enough for Columbia? Where is the proof that friends dislike me? Most of the time, posing questions in this way makes me realize that what I fear is often hugely unjustified and blown out of proportion. Let’s be real here: the human brain loves to be dramatic. The real truth is that I’m at Columbia for a reason, and my brain’s intelligence had a lot to do with it. I had conversations where the other person was smiling and nodding their head, indicating nothing about their distaste for talking to me. Those are the real facts, and that is what I turn to when I find myself being distrustful. I remind myself of what is rational and then I affirm, reaffirm, and re-re-affirm those truths. When I remind myself of what is real, I am able to trust my own power and step into my own light. From there, I am able to trust my body, my personality, and my capabilities.

Beginning this process of actively recognizing where I distrust myself and then re-working my opinions to trust again has brought back confidence, and confidence is what will keep opening doors for me in the future. In knowing that I’m not alone, I encourage all of you readers to try this too. Trust is hard but it is worth it.

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