My family has a yearly tradition to go to the beach on New Year’s Day. A large part of this tradition involves writing in the sand things we want to release from the previous year and things we’d like to bring in to the new year. We choose our own little section of the shore, after finding a stray stick or piece of wood to write with, and get to work writing our words, waiting afterward for the ocean to take them away. I remember I used to have a huge list of words I’d want to write down (love, adventure, health, faith, etc), but the last couple of years I’ve been more focused. This year, 2019, I wrote down ‘commitment’ and ‘consistency’ after realizing the health and wealth I really wanted could be mine with the two c’s. The previous year, 2018, I wrote down ‘self’. On the way to the beach, I was thinking about how I wanted to be less selfish, less self-centered, less self-absorbed. It took me back to something my friend had said about thinking Buddhists are so at peace because of their selflessness. I deemed the only word worth writing that year to be ‘self’. (Actually, I think I did write down another word, but the tide would not take it away. It took ‘self’ away almost immediately, though.)
Fast forward a year and a half and a couple Brené Brown books later and I’m feeling conflicted. I most recently read Gifts of Imperfection by her and, boy, did it hit home. My biggest realization from reading it is that I don’t feel or believe that I am worthy of love. That hurts to admit, but I see the pattern that the reality of it has created. The overall component to getting over this is loving yourself. Now, I’ve heard people preaching about this for years, but as someone who’s been all the negative things related to self and someone who’s resisted love for as long as I can remember, loving yourself seemed conceited, hippy dippy, and wildly ridiculous. I thought it was good enough to be okay with yourself. I was of the impression that since I was no longer comparing myself to others and beating myself up, I was good to go. No more work really needed to be done. I’m realizing now that couldn’t be further from the truth.
As I’ve mentioned a bit recently, I’ve been struggling to not feel drained and distant from me and the things I enjoy most. Reading through her book and the ten guideposts she uses to help you get to self-love, a few things became clear:
- I care about what people think, especially in regards to those around me who I interact with regularly (coworkers, family, etc)
- I do have a tendency to want perfection, particularly with school, and put more pressure than necessary on myself to perform at a certain level
- My go-to for feeling bad or stuck is often to spend money that I don’t really have on something that’ll surely pick me up and make me feel better
- I believe that if I block myself from feeling emotions, I am strong, in control, and less likely to be hurt by the loss of something meaningful
- I no longer make a note of what I’m grateful for and feel that gratitude, instead I focus more on what I don’t have or what went or is going wrong
- Faith has been replaced by an insatiable desire for certainty in my life
- I do occasionally compare myself and it affects my desire to be creative and authentic because of the belief that I’m not good enough
- I often think that the busier I am, the better I am, but when I do “rest”, I’m not doing anything that’s good for me (i.e. scrolling through social media mindlessly, online shopping, sometimes writing, doing crosswords, etc)
- I have stopped playing, which for me means having fun with movement (dance, yoga, gymnastics, etc)
- I don’t allow my mind to be still and calm, which often naturally occurs when I’m out in my garden or nature in general
- I definitely feel the “supposed to” pressure to conform to society and their expectations the closer I get to graduating and thinking about a career or life in general (higher degree, travel, relationships, living situation, material things)
- I’m no longer silly and goofy because I’m fearful of not fitting in with the “cool crowd”, whomever and wherever that may be
So what’s the plan of attack?
One step at a time. Acknowledge that good enough is sometimes good enough and not worry about perfection. It’s okay to not be perfect, that means I’m real. It’s also okay to let loose and not worry about what people will think. Choose to be brave and let myself be seen without fear of how it will be received. Be mindful. Strengthen my faith and believe that everything will be okay. Enjoy the freedom to be creative without thoughts of comparison. Play with movement for fun and not fitness. Accept what’s meaningful to me and what I want my life to be. Understand that the only thing I should do is what’s best for me. Don’t be afraid to stand up for myself or set boundaries. Take the time to be grateful regularly, but especially when the notion of lacking or losing creeps into my brain. Stay mindful. Be open with those close to me about where and how I’m struggling. Be there for them in return and extend compassion instead of judgment, sympathy, unwarranted advice or by making light of their situation. Embrace the fact that fitting in isn’t worth it if I can’t be myself and that perhaps what people will love about me is the things that make me stand out.
That’s all I have today, folks. Go out there and be brave with who you are.
**Year of pictures in order: 2018, 2015, 2017, 2013, 2019