I was a tutor in the tutoring center at my second college. I assisted primarily in Intro to Statistics, but also proofread papers and helped with other math problems where I could. I worked with a lot of students, many regular attendees, but also students who had never come in before for help. Through my job I was blessed with a few people I can call my friends. But regardless of "friendship status," there is one thing I consistently sought to do (and still do!) beyond my work duties: build up confidence and self-esteem.
As someone who has dealt with self-esteem, self-confidence, and related self-issues for most of my life for many reasons, I finally had to come to a place where I had to accept that I am more than I perceive myself at any given moment in time. I am a valuable person, able to reason logically and perform many skills and tasks, "worthy" (if you will) of friendships and relationships, and gifted with a desire to see others live a better life. I still deal with "self-isms" — as I like to call them — with varying degrees in intensity. I have crafted and wield my somewhat unique sense of humor largely around self-perspective and other self-isms. My job as a tutor, as much as I loved it, would previously have not be considered due to crippling fear.
Through being a tutor, I began to notice how many students degrade themselves for failing to grasp a concept, understand a tedious processes (some even I trip on at times), or solve a problem correctly. "I'm stupid," "I'm retarded," "I'm so dumb," and similar phrases are commonly muttered. Whenever this happens, I would always contradict the student and assure them otherwise. I would reaffirm the student's ability to learn, reason, study, and succeed in whatever they do, even in a complicated statistics concept.
Remember those few friendships I mentioned? They either started or were strengthened through reaffirming words and actions towards. Honestly, I love working with people. People fascinate me. I enjoy being in a role where I can speak life into a person's situation, bring laughter into a sad heart, and refresh a broken spirit. I like to make at least one person a day genuinely laugh, however that may look. It brings me joy to see others succeed, overcome obstacles, and enjoy life. I have repeatedly been granted the immense privilege of becoming privy to many areas of people's lives and to talk frankly about them through a mutual bond of trust and respect. I pray I never betray the immense trust built between me and those people, even ones I no longer speak to for whatever reason. Regardless of the topic, these honest conversations and friendships largely started from one thing: a willingness to receive a word of edification, a voice that builds them up.
When it comes to failure, it is so easy to listen to the voice of self-destruction. The voice of self-destruction seeks to tear you down, beat you up until you are sore and destroy your self-confidence until you believe that you are a nobody, so insignificant that there is no reason anyone would truly care about you, and are incapable of doing anything right or learning anything correctly. It the root of the self-isms. The voice of self-destruction can originate from your mind or outsiders. It can be thoughts, words, behavior, deliberate or unintentional, and in any combination of these forms. If left unchecked and unhindered, the voice of self-destruction can take you down dark roads you never imagined. Often, the voice is your own. All it takes is one small comment, reply, or thought for you to take over. We as people are really good at tearing ourselves down without any external help.
The voice of self-destruction is ruthless. It wants nothing more than for you to listen to it, drop in your tracks, and give up. It seeks to rob you of your dreams, kill all chances of them ever occurring, and destroy all new dreams, visions, and optimism. It lusts after your hope, eager to replace it with fear, dread, and despair. It blinds you from seeing any possibility of success over or relief from the current pain. It distorts your self-perspective and twists your self-image into a form where you no longer believe you could be any other way than the miserable, insignificant person you are now.
Yet the voice of self-destruction is a lie. Though we are really good at tearing ourselves down, lifting ourselves up or listening to the voice of well-meaning and genuine people is extremely hard. It is so incredibly easy to believe all the negative thoughts but completely shun any positive words. After all, it is written in the Bible that:
Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21, NKJV)
I struggle with the voice of self-destruction on a daily basis. I have to remind myself, as I wrote in the tweet earlier, that I am worth it, that the people who willingly come around me see potential in me and want me to succeed. When they speak these things, I have to make a voice. Do I reject it because I think I know myself best, or do I listen and take to heart their words because they may see something in myself that I do not see? And if their words are true, do I listen to the voice of self-destruction or the voice of truth?
I'm not totally sure where to take this post from here. I wrote the majority of this in January 2018 and am finishing it a year later. I was reading through it with the intention of finishing it, and as I read it, my own words hit it. "Wow, these are all things I struggled with in 2018, and yet here I was at the beginning of 2018 writing how I and others can deal with it." So I am publishing this with only minor modifications, in hope that something I have written helps you recognize the voice of self-destruction and realize it is a lie.