I think one of the hardest thing to do in life is get over yourself, the more I think about all the different things this phrase could mean.
For a long time, I considered it a way to explain what haughty or stuck up people ought to do. Get over themselves. Realize that they are like every body else. If you were self-involved, I thought, you should get over yourself. Open up your eyes and realize what is actually important, relevant, etc.
For the past five years, until March, I had not been in a committed relationship. During this single period, all of my most nagging insecurities, about my weight, my attractiveness level, my craziness, my ability to achieve my goals were externalized on to this future person, my boyfriend. This imaginary man would know the exact ways to act and the exact things to say that would reassure me I was perfect and beautiful and lovable, and would soar me into a lifetime of success.
Then, in March, I started dating my boyfriend. And he didn't say or do any of those things. One night I pressed him for about an hour about my attractiveness and his first reaction was just, "Is this one of those weird girl things?". He did not even nibble at any of my bait, just wondered why in the world his girlfriend, who he would obviously choose because he thought she was attractive, would not think so. He tried his best to reassure me, but I realized that there was nothing he could say that would. The words, the actions, the feeling that I had been waiting for was never going to come from some outside source. After all, I will never see myself from anyone else's perspective but my own. Nor should I. If I did I would no longer be myself. And so, I realized that these insecurities were something that I had to get over myself. If I wanted to feel the way I had fantasized about, I would have to learn how to forgive myself, how to support myself, and how to be myself without waiting for any external validation from others.
In many ways this process has been very difficult. It seemed obvious to me that insecurities are obstacles that you place in front of your growth. But what has surprised me is what else they stand in the way of: your deeper, more subconscious fears. Yes I am insecure about my attractiveness: but even scarier, if I just felt beautiful because I am a woman, and all women are beautiful (as this guy said...or Eve Ensler here) . Then, beauty would no longer be a goal I would have to attain, clothing I could wear or a diet I could go on to feel reassured, superior to others. So then what would fulfill me? What would validate me? Yes I am insecure about people liking me: but even scarier, if I no longer cared what people think? Then who would I be? How would I act? What would I care about? Yes I am insecure that I'm not living up to my 'potential', not treading the path to success that was laid out for me in the Ivy League: but even scarier, to realize I don't even know what I would consider actual success without these society-imposed measures? That I basically need to start from scratch to determine what is actually important to me, this time as myself, not as a reflection of what I think others want me to be.
And thus, to what I see as the last meaning of this phrase. Realizing that 'yourself' in getting over yourself, isn't actually you at all. It's someone you have constructed out of others interpretations, someone that strives to meet expectations, paints convenient, safe narratives about your past and your future, helps you to cling to your bitterness, to make assumptions about who's better and who's worse, about what's important and what's not, all along pushing down farther and farther who you actually are.
So, onward to get over my self. It becomes more and more frightening the more successful I am. But I'm beginning to see that it is not the fear itself but our reactions to it, our avoidance of it, that prevents us from change, hardens us, and makes us hateful. Being uncomfortable does not always mean something is wrong. It could simply mean that you are beginning to grow.
**Many thanks to Marc Bregman, without whom I never would have gotten where I am right now**