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Self-Affirmations For When You’re Feeling Inadequate

Comparison can be the thief of joy, but so can inadequacy.

Inspiration

They say comparison can be the thief of joy, but so can inadequacy. At any given moment, we can go from feeling like we're the ish to second-guessing our entire being. Insecurities and feelings of inadequacy are all too common, especially in this day and age where self-worth is tried and tested on a daily, especially when we aren't putting in the work to counter those feelings.

With time I've learned that you can't fight fire with fire. So instead of trying to overcome these thoughts with more positive thoughts and have full conversations with ourselves in our minds, what about speaking the opposite, which is what we really know deep down is the truth? Instead of cowering inward, vibrate higher by practicing these self-affirmations in the moments when you're feeling like even your best isn't enough!

"I Was Born For This."

Whether you're starting a business or raising a family, saying this affirmation can help you remember that this is what you were created to do. Even when we're walking out our purpose to the fullest, at least for the time being, thoughts of self-doubt can come. Repeat this affirmation as many times as you need to for confirmation that you were created for something amazing, even when it doesn't feel like it. Before you know it, you'll have your mojo back in full effect.

"I Don’t Strive For Perfection, I Strive To Be My Best Self."

This is where a lot of us get caught up. We often mix up perfection with giving our best, then when we come up short, we beat ourselves up because we made a mistake. This affirmation helped me a lot because it gives room for inevitable errors but doesn't allow us to use the idea that we're human as an excuse to make mistakes. Instead, recognizing that we're not perfect and at the same time pushing for excellence and bringing our best selves to the table is a win in more ways than one (mentally, emotionally and even physically). So when you slip up, say this affirmation for much-needed inner peace.

"I Deserve The Best And Refuse To Settle."

We know our true selves, we know our past, and we know things about us that no one else does. And sometimes we allow these things that might not be the most positive to convince us that we're not enough. It can make us settle in relationships, careers and other areas of our lives. But the truth is, we've all made mistakes and have things we wish we can take back. We're not better or worse than anyone. When you speak this affirmation, it can help you gain the confidence to demand what you know you truly deserve, because you're more than enough and your mistakes and past don't define you. Boom.

"I Fall More In Love With Myself Every Day."

Have you ever thought about how dope you really are? Not just what you do or what you have, but you as a person. What do you really admire and like about yourself? How do you feel when you actually spend time with yourself? Whether it's going to the movies solo or having a concert in your living room. Either way, this affirmation can help you humbly take inventory of the qualities and characteristics that are unique to you… and make you that much more dope. The more you do that, the more you can realize that you're the ish! And it's okay to be in love with yourself, pushing you to feel better and do better.

"Can't Nobody Do It Like Me."

This might sound a little arrogant, but that's not the purpose. It's not meant to make you tap into the conceited part of you, but rather remind you that you're special, and there are things that only you can do. Once you start to embrace this, you might even get a new way of thinking when it comes to the tasks that you take on. It's not an excuse to slip up but instead a method to help you keep going and be the you that only you can be.

"I'm Beautiful!"

Unfortunately, it can be our physical flaws, or just things we don't like about our appearance, that make us feel the most inadequate. I feel like those days we look in the mirror and feel bomb, we think we can conquer the world. But when we notice a piece of us that we think isn't attractive, we want to hide from the world. It's vital to remind yourself that you're beautiful, no matter how you feel or even what you look like. You're a natural beauty and not even thin edges or uneven eyebrows can take that away from you. I'm just saying, sis.

Featured image by Getty Images

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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