Whenever I write anything that delves beyond my politically correct, socially acceptable, polished, surface level self, I get a little antsy. Actually, I get a lot antsy. My heartbeat quickens, my hands sweat, and my voice becomes shaky as I reread my thoughts turned into words aloud. And then, two somewhat competing ideas pop into my head simultaneously: 1.) I shouldn’t hit publish on this. 2.) These words need to be shared. And since I don’t know which feeling to believe (or perhaps don’t have the instant guts to follow the second), I call in my support team for courage.
I’ll FaceTime my parents, or phone my sister, or request that my husband look through what I’ve written. I’ll ask them, “is that too much, too heavy, too revealing? Do I sound like someone who needs to see an expert more than I need to be sharing my innermost doubts and struggles on the internet?” They assure me my thoughts are valid, and that more often than not, they’re common. They’re just usually not spoken aloud. They have my back even when I can’t seem to have my own. They believe in the power of my words even when I don’t.
So then, with my heartbeat still quickening, hands still sweating (though to be fair, they sweat when I’m not nervous too), and voice still shaking, I rip the band aid off and hit publish. Because despite my insecurity and fear of being seen for who I really am, somewhere deep down I know that my life matters and that I deserve to be seen for who I really am.
It’s typically a bit of a process to come to that conclusion. And truth be told, I still wrestle with it almost daily. I get caught up in wanting to be liked, of craving the approval of others, and of crafting the most perfect life I can. I try to alter, manipulate, and fix any inadequacies I have before putting myself and my thoughts into the world. I feel like in admitting to the areas where I struggle, I’m somehow blowing my own cover that I’ve worked so hard to create and maintain.
I make my own self-acceptance contingent upon how others perceive me. And I justify it by saying that it’s good to care what others think and how I come across to them. I become so caught up in pleasing others and honoring my perfection fueled mind that I sacrifice my authentic self.
And it doesn’t stop there. I hold myself to a standard I sort of despise. Honestly, if the people I love talked to me the way I often talk to myself, I’d stop hanging out with them. I’d stand up for myself, I’d say how worthy I am, and I’d believe it. And yet, for some reason, it feels completely normal and strangely acceptable to lack compassion towards myself.
I dream of the moment in which I can honestly say, “I don’t care what they think of me, I love myself.” I long for the moment that my confidence isn’t somewhat conditional. That it doesn’t fluctuate with my weight, performance, status, job, and popularity. That it isn’t driven by positive reviews, encouraging feedback, harsh criticisms and glowing recommendations. Because it’s exhausting.
So, where does it end? How does it end?
In an interview on Ellen a couple months ago, Amy Schumer talked about the body shaming and bullying she’s endured throughout her career and how she’s continued forward in spite of it. She said “For women of all ages there’s no one too young or too old to understand. It never stops and it really needs to be about knowing who you are. Every day I look in the mirror and I’m like, ‘I can work with this bitch.'”
Maybe it doesn’t end, but is instead about simply being, accepting, and embracing who I already am. I recently started taking the time to think about the things I like about me, the same way I think about the things I like about the people I love. It feels weird, unnatural, and somewhat conceited, yet also kind of nice. It feels like I’m actually treating myself the way I want to be treated and appreciating myself as I am, rather than as I think I should or could be.
I’m not talking about some love that’s contingent upon hitting personal goals or achieving professional success. I mean the real, unconditional, without exception kind of love that isn’t obsessed with always being right, liked, complimented, or perfect, but that’s real, raw, and honest. The me that can be both funny and sad, and scared and hopeful, and relaxed and anxious, and is worthy regardless. The me that is passionate and kind, and stubborn and willing, and that feels things in a deep, bold, and unapologetic way. Because I can work with that. I want to work with that. I deserve to work with that. We all do.
p.s. In the sake of full disclosure and admitting the things we sometimes hide, I’m making a ‘Love Yourself’ playlist featuring the Biebs after this.
[featured image via pexels]