I grew up poor. I thought having “the things I was supposed to have” would allow me to finally be worthy of love + belonging. This was unfortunately my thinking at the ripe old age of 10 years old.
Back in the 1980s, Minnetonka Moccasin shoes were a must have item for girls. I believed in the lie that if I owned a pair, I’d finally be worthy of belonging to this group of friends I was trying so hard to be a part of.
If only I had the shoes …
My family couldn’t afford the brand name shoes. But after some guilt, my mom finally bought me a knock-off pair from KMart. I was thrilled and also petrified.
I thought I could fake it until I made it as long as I never took them off (which would have revealed the label).
You can imagine the mental and emotional cloud that hung over me, making sure no one ever saw the insides of my shoes.
Then, one day at swim practice in the locker room I was changing.
The girl I so desperately wanted to fit in and be best friends with by wearing these shoes, well … she saw the label.
She said those words I was so afraid to hear, “Those aren’t REAL moccasins.”
Devastated, I immediately got small. I stopped talking. And I desperately tried to hide deep inside of myself. Ironic, as I was standing in the locker room in my bathing suit, not a good hiding spot.
I stopped wearing those shoes. Shoes that I loved, despite them not being a brand name. Shoes that my parents choose to spend their limited money on.
I was so desperate to disconnect from what I was feeling — SHAME — and hid from my own reality. I threw the shoes in the back of my closet and haven’t talked about them until I became a middle-aged woman with plenty of money to buy whatever brand of shoes I want.
My ten year-old self was consumed by shame.
I was consumed by believing because we were poor we were not worthy. I believed that to be worthy, I had to have certain brand name things. I believed I could fake it and fit in.
The problem with faking it to make it? You aren’t being real with yourself and nobody gets to know the real you.
And then I was found out. I didn’t have the real shoes. Therefore I wasn’t even good enough to be liked according to the rules I was choosing to live by.
Writing this down is powerful as it really shows me the lies that I believed, and how powerful shame rules our lives.
We will run from our stories to desperately try to disconnect from the shame. However, no matter how far you run and how desperately you try to hide, there you are.
Instead what is even more powerful is to own your story and love yourself.
Had my 10 year old self been able to say, “yes you are correct these aren’t Minnetonka Mocassins, but they are MY moccasins and I LOVE them.”
My “so called” friend would have immediately lost her power and I would have been standing in that locker room grounded in my own self-confidence.
P.S. You can help your confidence evolve and develop by learning how to trust yourself.