In 1992, I began my first teaching assignment with a seventh grade class at a junior high in Federal Way. In third period, I taught identical twin sisters, Amy and Ashley. One random morning, Ashley burst into tears. I took her outside the classroom to find out what the matter was.
“My sister is prettier than me,” she sobbed.
I would like to remind you that the girls were IDENTICAL twins, but it obviously wasn’t about what Ashley looked like; it was about how she felt.
Perhaps self-doubt is an ancient strand of our DNA, instilled in us thousands upon thousands of years ago to keep us vigilant and wary, an instilled sense of uncertainty that forces us to second-guess ourselves less we become dinner for a saber-tooth tiger or woolly mammoth. (Actually, I am pretty sure woolly mammoths were herbivores, so never mind about the mammoths.)
This caution makes us feel stupid when we are smart, weak when we are strong, alone when we are deeply loved, and sometimes self-doubt can force a pretty twelve-year-old girl to feel so ugly, it will bring her to tears.