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My Journey to Self Love: Dr Andrea Pennington (Transcript)

Dr Andrea Pennington @TEDxPeterborough

Dr Andrea Peddingtion, in her presentation at TEDxPeterborough, speaks on the subject of self-love. She explains her struggles for achieving this mental state.  Demonstrating to her audience how society brands individuals, Dr Peddington presents the challenge of openness and self-acceptance.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here: My journey to self love by Dr Andrea Pennington


Dr Andrea Pennington – Physician & Author

Could you look yourself in the mirror and say: I love you, me?

A few years ago, I couldn’t. Saying those four words would have been really difficult. I did not love myself, and I didn’t see what could possibly be lovable about me.

Well, I’ve come a long way since then. And now not only will I say those words, but I will also sing them for you as well.

Today I’ll share a bit of my healing journey from self-hatred, to real self-love. It’s the true story of how music saved my life and set me free from several diagnoses, including depression.

I was born in Nevada, and when I was three years old, my parents got divorced. My mother then moved our family to Denver, Colorado so she could finish medical school. When she got into private practice, I was shuffled between school and the babysitter and my older sister.

When it was the weekends, I begged my mom to go to the hospital with her. So while she did her patient rounds, I would hang out in the gift shop. And I was always very quiet and well behaved, mainly because at home, my mother repeated often, ‘children are to be seen, not heard,’ just as she was told when she grew up.

Now the conversations on the phone with my father were mainly about how I was doing in school. He came from the generation that believed that with an education, you could get a good job, a pension, and a secure future.

So when he found out that I was performing in a music recital, or a school play, I often heard the tone of disapproval in his voice. He told me I needed to focus on my grades. Successful musicians and actors are just one in a million.

My dad grew up in Tennessee. It’s one of the United States known for country music. And many people travel there to look for fame, but very few people find it.

Now my dad is actually an excellent guitar and banjo player, and he excels in photography. So it’s really not surprising that music and creative arts are natural passions for me. But he always discouraged me from pursuing them as a career, because he had seen too many people try and fail at that.

So I worked really hard at school so that I could keep my dad’s approval so that I could keep performing in theater, band and choir. It was through music and theater that I could move and release the emotions that were bottled up inside of me. And it was on stage that I was finally told it was good to be seen and totally acceptable to speak up and sing out loud.

So, when I got to university, I performed in community theater, I discovered video production, and I became the general manager of our campus TV station as a pre-med student.

And this is when my father told me that I was a dilettante, just like him.

Enter diagnosis number one: dilettante, a person who cultivates an area of interest, such as the arts without serious commitment or knowledge. Synonyms include dabbler, tinkerer, trifler, amateur, non-professional, non-specialist. Pretty negative, right?

Isn’t it amazing how quickly we slap a label on anything that’s outside of the box, instead of encouraging the individuality within each of us?

Once again, my father urged me to focus on my studies so that I could get accepted to medical school. And I felt that need to hide and downplay my true passions and interests. I didn’t want to be seen as not serious.

So from childhood to early adulthood, I became a chameleon. I did everything I could to look, sound and behave in serious, acceptable ways.

And over time, I noticed this growing sense of unease. I never quite felt comfortable in my own skin. I didn’t feel like I was good enough.  And I was terrified that someone would find out I wasn’t smart enough.

And sadly, I never got to enjoy the fruits of my hard labor. Getting all A’s on a report card or a standing ovation. Didn’t make me feel good about myself, or proud.

In fact, my self-worth never increased based on the things I did, but I still tried really hard to be perfect. And I remember feeling intense shame, anytime that urge for creative expression bubbles up inside of me. It was not a fun way to live. And I was pretty sad and alone.

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