A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker


Everybody likes Carol.

What's not to like?  She's cute, but not too cute, if you know what I mean.  She has a great personality, with a fun sense of humor.  She's bright, vivacious, charming, enthusiastic and a heck of a chef (her orange truffle brownies are to die for).  She's the first person you think of if you're planning a party or a service project or a camping trip or a trip to the mall – whatever you're planning, you want Carol to be there because . . . well, everybody likes Carol.

Everybody, that is, except Carol.

Those who know her – or who think they do – would be stunned to hear that.  She doesn't give any indication of being emotionally needy.  While she often makes self-deprecating jokes, they seem to be genuinely good-natured jibes, not desperate cries for help.  And she's so unfailingly positive about everything that's it's hard to imagine her being negative about anything.

Least of all herself.

But she is, and has been for as long as she can remember.  She doesn't like the way she looks.  Specifically, she doesn't like her hair, her skin, her nose, her mouth, her eyes or – especially – her figure.  She doesn't like her voice.  She doesn't think she's very smart.  She doesn't think she has any talents.  She doesn't even like the way her orange truffle brownies taste.

Carol doesn't like anything about Carol.

Thankfully, she isn't self-destructive.  She just isn't very happy.  And she lacks the confidence to fully realize her potential.  Because the way she sees it, she doesn't have any.

Interesting, isn't it?  From the outside looking in, it would appear that Carol has everything in the world going for her.  But from the inside looking in – where it really counts – the whole world, the planets and the stars are aligned against her.  For some reason that is probably too complicated for us to fully analyze here, she can't see what everyone who knows her can see: that she is a person of diverse capabilities, meaningful value and significant worth.

We all fall victim to that lack of inner vision from time to time.  We think that we are not good enough, or clever enough, or attractive enough, or blessed enough.  And while it's true that there is always somebody faster, stronger, brighter, wealthier or better looking, that doesn't mean that we lack value.

We all have strengths as well as weaknesses.  They may not be the strengths we would like to have, but we have them.  To deny that is to deny the handiwork of God, which is precisely what we're doing if we focus on what we aren't or don't have or can't do or won't ever accomplish.  Such negativity has a way of becoming self-fulfilling since it rarely takes long to trudge the downward path from “I'm no good at that” to “I'm no good at anything” to “I'm no good.  Period.”

And so we must find peace with ourselves within ourselves.  Not smug self-satisfaction, or arrogant pride and haughtiness.  Just peace.  Contentment.  Serenity.  Happiness.

We don't need to believe that we're better than others, but we do need to know that we're just as good.  As the Duchess said to Alice during her adventures in Wonderland: “Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.”

I'm not sure, but I think what the Duchess is saying is be yourself.  Accept yourself.  Believe in yourself.  Like yourself – and your orange truffle brownies.

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— © Joseph Walker

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