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Jewish Journal

Knowing Our Strengths from the Core of Our Being

by Lia Mandelbaum

December 23, 2013 | 8:13 am

About two months ago someone that I had gone to high school with had reached out to me after having read a few of my blogs, and the next thing you know we were practically writing novels back and forth and the interest in one another went to a romantic level.  We had a ton in common and were very excited about the possibility of what the relationship could turn into.  One day, I had a moment of insecurity, which they picked up on, and everything changed.  That openness and excitement towards me just got cut off and I became shut out.  They said that insecurity really weirded them out and kind of annoyed them. My awareness of their intense reaction and shutting me out made me feel even more insecure and ashamed, and disappointed in myself for messing up the opportunity to develop would could have potentially been a meaningful relationship.  This was also very hard on me because I was in the middle of final exams in graduate school and was incredibly stressed and sleep deprived. 

After two months of a lot of time and effort to connect, it was clear that my insecurity had spooked them out when they cancelled on me only two days before we were supposed to meet.  I was very embarrassed and felt really bad about having shown that side of myself, largely because I understood what it’s like to have that sort of reaction towards another person.  At the end of the day, I realized that my intense reaction towards that person’s insecurity mostly had to do with my own insecurities.  I didn’t like seeing that part of myself in them that I viewed as a weakness.  

Although I have been having moments of anger and disappointment towards them, I’m not writing about this experience to bash them.  It’s really easy to soothe ones own pain by making the other person into the bad guy, and then miss out on what could potentially be a very empowering lesson.  And the reality is that I really liked them as a person, and in a sense it hurts me to deny that and not wish them well.  But what I learned is that having insecurities is nothing to be ashamed about, and that there isn’t a single person on this planet that hasn’t grappled with insecurities.  I realized that having insecurities doesn’t make you an insecure person, and that a secure person is aware of their insecurities and takes ownership of them.    

One of my reactions towards the rejection was to tell them that they’re missing out on a really special person.  A secure person understands his or her self-worth, and doesn’t feel the need to convince someone else.  No matter how many times I have been complimented and praised, there is a part of me that understands my strengths mostly on an intellectual level.  I still grapple with old ideas of negative self-worth, and this experience has taught me of the importance of understanding my strengths from the core of my being.  

This New Year’s resolution is going to be to understand and know my strengths from the core of my being.  May we all feel joy and pride over who we are.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Lia Mandelbaum is getting her degree in social work at California State University-Los Angeles, and has an internship at Barbour & Floyd Mental Health Services.

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