This concept was brought up in Melissa's seminar course that my wife and I recently took. The second she mentioned it in the course....I knew exactly what she was talking about. The weird thing about this is....it's not a "feeling" of being devalued or "small" in terms of how you think about yourself. It's more in terms of physical "space" or personal "space" that you inhabit and therefore...is not "small" as in feeling worthless in that respect. It has more of a feeling like the walls are closing in around you and your "world" is getting smaller not you in that respect. I think it has more to do with your "rights" and what "rules" apply to you and how you move through your world. The smaller it gets....the less room you have to move. Think of it as a form of "claustrophobia" and that would help explain this better? I cannot connect exactly why this happens or why it feels this way exactly....but I can tell you where it comes from in a funny story about this from my distant past. I know it's related....but I still can't explain it exactly as to "why". All I can say is....it's real and it makes you feel out of control and like you are suffocating much like the claustrophobia example? The story to put this into context.......
When I was in Jr High School....at the time (1970)....the "IN" thing to do that was almost a uniform in fashion at that time ( where I lived).....was to take a pair of brand new Levi's and then modify them from being "un- cool" as they were....to being "very cool" and in step with everyone else. No self respecting kid at that time...would even think about wearing them without going through a long process of preparation ahead of time. This would be very "un- cool" indeed.
First....you take them and soak them in a tub mixed with bleach. Not too much or that would ruin them.....but just enough to get that dark blue color out and bleach them to a lighter color. Now adays.....you can buy them this way....back then....there was no such thing.
Next....you take the hem out of the bottom completely and then cut the outer seam up the side about 6 inches. This was the equivalent of home made "bells bottoms" but much much "cooler" and "tougher" looking which was way more "bitch'in".
Next....you'd take them outside and find a brick or concrete wall or the equivalent.....and beat the crap out of them and fraying the hem at the bottom until they were completely fuzzy and unraveled looking....and then you took some sissor's and snipped all the loose threads off but just enough so they were trailing behind you and stepping on them
Finally....you took them and washed them at least a dozen times in as hot a water as you could and more times the better....this was just the point that you would not be embarrassed to wear them and then they will only continue to get better as time (and the Levi's) wore on. Holes in knees with patches and leather laces and such were optional but only when they were falling apart to the point where you needed to this to continue to wear them. Doing this ahead of time just for show was frowned upon and looked like you were just trying to "fake it". Anyone doing this knew that and could easily spot a pair of pants that were prematurely embellished for that reason alone! lol Now you were ready to "wear them out"....both literally and figuratively which was the entire point of doing this. The more raged and tattered the better.
And nothing complimented this "look" better....than a well worn "work shirt" in the same condition but...that was a little trickier to wear out ahead of time. The only way to get a work shirt completely worn out....was to wear it out naturally and this took quite some time to do. So now comes the good part and how this ties in to feeling small. I owed the "coolest" most "bitch'inest" work shirt that one could possibly posses in the world of a 13 teen year old and the fashions of the times. This was handed down to me from my oldest sister who got it from an ex-boyfriend in her first year at college. Not only was it thread bear and almost completely white washed with little of the trade mark "blue" left in it....it also had some kind of college fraternity party logo on it that made it that much "cooler". This thing....was a "treasure" and it was made clear to me every time, each time I wore it by the looks and comments that were made by nearly every envious friend that saw it. In a now more antiquated and formally spoken lingo....this thing was the "bomb!".
What topped this off .....it was too big and the shirt tail hung halfway down my thigh which of course.....this made the entire look and pulled this all together. ( no one would have tucked their shirt tail in under those circumstances at that time...) That would be...beyond "un-cool." lol Pair the pants and the shirt and some harness boots and a woven "hippie" belt that hung down with a tattered frayed ends on it.....and I was styl'in and ready to roll!
Enter....my mother into this picture.
This entire look was not only a complete bewilderment to my mother (taking a brand new pair of pants and destroying them like this?) but wear she drew the line and how this story applies came down to my personal "treasured" work shirt. For what ever reason which was not exactly spoken or explained to me at the time....this shirt hit some kind of nerve in her that she could not wrap her head around? There was an on going battle over this shirt that turned into a game of Cat and Mouse.
The game was....hide the shirt....and then, see if I could find it? lol
When I told her how cool it was and she just didn't understand....and even with my older sisters telling her that it was the "thing" and it was "Okay"....and even my Dad reluctantly saying...."if he wants to look like a bum....there is nothing we can do about that."...my mother was determined, and would not give up trying her best to keep me from wearing this shirt.
The first time I discovered it hidden was by accident.... when I went looking for a towel in the towel cupboard....and way back in the back and buried in some old towels that were used for rags....I found the most precious piece of clothing that I possessed at the time.....
I went "WTF!!!".....game on!" lol I took it..... wore it ...and when I walked in the door......the look on my moms face was one of horror and surprise! "Fool me once...shame on you...fool me twice? That isn't going to work anymore MOM! NICE TRY!! lol
From that point on.....I routinely searched for each new place that my mother....conveniently overlooked to put my favorite shirt back in my line up for clothes to wear...and every time, I ended up re-finding it again..... but she continued none stop to feel compelled..... to keep hiding it but not to throw it away since she knew it was a gift from my older sister and I guess even that would have been crossing the line? lol
The moral of this story is exactly how this made me feel. Small .....and that my world was being attacked.....(with extreme prejudiced)....with willful disregard for something that meant a lot to my self esteem as an insecure 13 year old....just trying to fit in.