Heather L. Barmore
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Heather Barmore
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    Change In Action at Babble Voices


    Neither Swell Nor Great

    "We do not deal much in facts when we are contemplating ourselves."  ~Mark Twain

    A few years ago I was invited to a party thrown for/by Nate Berkus. The party was intended for design and lifestyle bloggers and I happened to be on that list. *Shrug* When I told friends, family and Oprah devotees that I would be breathing the same air as Nate Berkus they asked if they could stowaway in my suitcase. The second question was “Um...you?”. The day of the party I went with a group of women and while their my friend Liz was ready to talk to Nate so she has me go up their with him and she tells him that she’s Liz Gumbinner and amazing and owner of a super successful business and I’m standing there thinking, HOW DID I GET INVITED TO THIS?! I AM NOT ALL THAT. And she says, “This is Heather. Heather is great...” and begins to list off all of the things that I am good at that have nothing to do with being a design blogger superstar. And in that moment I wanted nothing more than to hug the snot out of her.


    I bring this up not to be all, “You like me! You really like me!” but because, and I imagine this is the same for many people, I think I’m pretty average. I’m nothing special. I have no extraordinary talents. In fact, on average, I think very little of myself. I often dwell on how much better/successful/talented/more aware of how to use a comma than actually telling myself or others that I am ‘kind, smart and important’ (shout out to Abilene!). I probably need a good therapist rather than word vomit on the Internet but there that is: I have an issue with telling people that I am good at something. I also cannot accept a compliment.

    In hindsight people always tell me what I should have said to people that is complimentary to me and my work both in real life and online but I almost always - actually, I did this earlier today - say that I don’t want to be prideful or boisterous or that being mentioned in the Wall Street Journal isn’t that big of a deal.

    So what do I do? I need help in the self esteem department but I have no clue where to start.

    « Promise Yourself | Main | Hungry »

    Reader Comments (10)

    1) DUDE. ME TOO.

    2) Something I've found super helpful is to name those "I'm not good enough, I don't belong here, everyone else is so much more x than I am" thoughts. I call them the brain hamsters. Because those thoughts aren't me (and they aren't you) and they aren't helpful. Plus, it's fun to anthropomorphize things.

    3) I keep a document of every nice thing anyone ever says to me. Seriously. It helps.

    4) I know this wasn't the point of this post, but -I- think you're awesome. I could probably name twenty people off the top of my head who think the same thing. If you went through your contacts list, you could probably find hundreds. Listen to them over the brain hamsters. Always.

    April 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

    See, even know I'm thinking that I don't want for people to compliment me because that wasn't the point and now I feel bad for posting my honest feelings. Which these are. I know that people think I'm great *I* just don't think I'm great.

    I love the idea of writing down the nice things that people say about me. Keeping track will give me something to look back on when I'm feeling particularly low.

    April 12, 2012 | Registered CommenterHeather Barmore

    First off, I think it's 100% perfectly a-ok to be average. In fact, we are mostly average - that's how math works. I think finding your peace with that does more for self-esteem than anything. But then I'm also a child of the 70s/80s before the trophy-for-trying phenomena was born. I'm also midwestern so ticking off my accomplishments doesn't come naturally (we're too modest for that, don't you know?).

    And, this doesn't help you really, but I can say that I was in my late 20s early 30s before I was able to list off my skills and greatness, especially when it came to my career. And part of that was I just needed the time to achieve said greatness. It's not like there are 25 year olds with resumes full of achievements - I may have had a few cool projects under my belt, but long-term measurable achievements? Proof that the one awesome thing wasn't a fluke? that takes time. But the best, most clichéd, but useful advice I've gotten - fake it 'till you make it. Seriously.

    April 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkakaty

    Here is what I say about this from my 51 yo perch. Everybody has a story. Everyone is good/interesting/successful at something. Asking about that story or telling it helps all of us remember what we have accomplished in our years, whether it is a long time or a short time.

    April 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStacyfrPgh

    I love your writing. Maybe that will help with your self-esteem.

    April 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

    As someone else who often finds herself surrounded by those who are exceptional (Liz, for one), I can identify.

    I remind myself that while my strengths and accomplishments aren't in the same arena or currently as visible as those of many of my friends, that doesn't make those strengths and accomplishments any less amazing.

    I need a lot of reminding. But it helps.

    April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulie Marsh

    I have always hated selling things....including myself. I tend to downplay my accomplishments and hate to sound braggy about anything. I am getting better about just saying "thank you" to a compliment given to me, rather than sloughing it off. I agree with kakaty, we are 98% average with special qualities that make us unique. Celebrate the things that make you, you, and don't compare yourself to others.

    April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJP

    I think you just started.

    April 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMom101

    I invited you to a very important to me birthday dinner several years ago and I was completely tickled you showed. You are good people. And no matter what room you are in or what list you are on, you can totally hold your own and that's what I like about you. I think that's why many people like you too.

    April 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commentervictoria xo

    You keep gchatting with me, wherein I tell you "you is kind, you is smart, you is important" as mostly a joke but also code to say HELL YEAH YOU'RE AWESOME.

    That's one of the things, anyway,.

    April 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlaurie

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