The New Year is a time for self-reflection. A time to resolve to be a better person; to work on one's shortcomings. When I was 9, my teacher asked my class to each write a letter to ourselves addressing what we like about ourselves and what we need to work on. Here is what 9-year-old Jenna came up with:
Even at the age of 9, I had perfected the art of a shit sandwich. Compliment. Criticism. Compliment. "I like you a lot..." "Mean stuff..." "You're an OK person!" That way I wouldn't take it too hard when I found out for the first time what I actually think of myself.
I picture myself composing this letter while shaking my head with a smirk. "You may be smart, but you're no Einstein, honey." Also, I think it's funny that at 9 I had already developed, recognized, and criticized one of my big shortcomings. Talking non-stop. Yet I still do it. I was born with diarrhea of the mouth, and if there's a cure, I haven't found it.
And how about that ending? It's a punch to the gut. "I guess you're an OK person." You guess? OK? Ouch. That's a terrible excuse for a compliment. In summary, the best I could come up with is that I was good at writing poetry (which no one cares about), I was healthy (which I had no real control over), and I don't get in a lot of trouble.
What about that episode of Star Trek Next Generation I wrote in the 2nd grade? What about my ability to bend my thumbs behind my hands? And that 3rd grade science fair project on the water content of common foods. What was that? Chopped liver? I'll tell you what it was. Years of hard work culminating in self-proclaimed failure.
No wonder I always struggled with low self-esteem. I was living with an impossible-to-please ruffian inside my head.