This morning I intended to post about my usual point of reference-savings, couponing, and ways to bring home the bacon this season. But something else spoke to me this morning.
This morning In our personally-focused, life coach-dependent, plastic will do-you kind of world, it’s all too easy to think you need to change. Not just the things you do, but who you are.
It’s one thing to invite transformation for the sake of growth, improvement, and personal betterment. It’s another thing to feel so dissatisfied with yourself that no amount of change could possibly convince you that you’re worthy and lovable. This type of intrinsic self-loathing formed the basis of my adolescence and most of my twenties. It was like I was constantly trying to gut myself so I could replace my being with someone better, a person devoid of issues, conflict, and change.
On most days, I kept a running mental tally of all the ways I messed up—all the dumb things I said, the to-do list tasks I was not able to complete, the term papers that I felt were sub-par, stupid ideas I suggested at work, and the biggest of them all-my inevitably unsuccessful attempts to make people like me. It never occurred to me to say: how could they when I wasn’t willing to lead the way?
I tell you this not as an after picture of a person who can’t even remember that girl from before, but as someone who has lived this past decade taking two steps forward and one step back, and I see the signs all too well. For my willingness to give you this honesty, I am proud. I am focused. I am aware.
So, why the change today? I dawned me again that people are more apt to share their struggles once they feel like they’re on the other side. It’s a lot less scary so say “This is who I used to be” than “This is what I struggle with sometimes.”
Last evening, while on company a newly cultivated community of women, and dare say, friends, I found myself feeling isolated, left out, and abandoned in a chat that was centered on a topic dealing with the exclusionary action of other women. The feeling so of inadequacy I’ve faced for many years of my life all started flooding back to me, and left me feeling less cultivated, and more empty, unfocused, and depress than I had prior to the chat. I thought, where did I go wrong? Why did these women seclude me?
I also took time out to think, was I truly excluded, or was it just my perception?
But this is my truth, and I give it to you, wholeheartedly and uncensored. I am a flawed woman. I am a woman who seeks the approval of others. I am a woman who feels guilty when people don’t agree with my opinions. On a primal level, I really want to be loved and accepted, but I learn a little more every day that my own self-respect is the foundation of lasting joy. I am getting better and better, with not having to seek approval for the choices I have made, and will make in my life.
I know that I am not so different from most people. Who doesn’t want to feel that people understand them, get them, bond with them, seek their company, and at the end of it all love them for who and what they are anyway? I think we all want to believe it’s perfectly okay, and maybe even wonderful, to be exactly who we are.
Of course, that has to start with us. People can only love us if we believe we’re lovable. And you may not fully believe it if you:
- Constantly compensate for who you are with apologies or clarifications for your actions.
- Beat yourself up when you make even the slightest, silliest mistake.
- Think about your flaws and allow yourself to feel overwhelmed as a result.
- Cling to people who see only seek to the best in you, the surface you, to seek coddling friends.
- Find it hard to maintain those positive feelings when these same people walk away.
- Tell yourself that you’re being selfish whenever you consider meeting your own needs.
- Being unable to gracefully say no.
- Repeatedly invest your time in self-destructive choices that disrespect and devalue your worth.
- Don’t consider your needs a priority.
- Refuse to give yourself the grace to grow in your person-hood.
- Always find a reason to talk yourself out of your dreams, instead of seeing the beauty they possess.
In full disclosure, I have done every last one of these things at some point. Some in the recent past. Some as we speak. Some that may be yet to come. Moreover, I suspect we all have, because it’s challenging to love ourselves, particularly in a world where change generates a substantial amount of revenue.
There are always going to be people, products, and ideas for us to get better; and it’s a beautiful thing to embrace life-long growth. Life is all about transformation; staying static is a kind of death,. But it’s important that we all realize that we are beautiful and wonderful just as we are—perfected with time and patience in both our light and dark, in our complete, authentic selves. We have to learn to be our own guru.
So, here are a few tips I have that I have relied on for strength this morning:
1. Know that you are not an amalgamation of mistakes. Our past actions shaped today, but we are not what we’ve been. We don’t need to carry around labels or mistakes from yesterday, in hopes of defining who and what we are. Labels should never define us. Mistakes don’t have to brand you, particularly not if you’re making the conscious choice to do things differently now. Be a person of change, not a person who constantly changes to be someone whom they are not.
The truth is this: We can judge ourselves by the weakest moments or the strongest—that’s our choice. Choose to focus on the strongest moments in your past. Whether you believe in the positive or the negative, you’re right.
2. Know that you have nothing to prove to others. This goes double for women. I don’t care how esteemed or successful someone is; there are things they’re proud of and things they’re ashamed of, and inside they wish people would see more of the former and less of the latter. What to really be freed? Don’t think you need to be someone else to make someone like you, and don’t expect anyone to answer or prove anything to you in return. If someone makes you second guess yourself, take a step back. You don’t have to show the world you’re good, you just need to be the good you seek to see in the world. This worked for Gandhi, and it can work for you too!
3. Being authentic means being vulnerable. The act of letting people see all your different facets, trusting they won’t judge you, and knowing that if they do, that’s completely on them. I’d rather be real with people, and know the ones who accept me accept me fully, than pretend and then have to maintain the illusion that I am something I’m not. Seek out a tribe of like-minded, authentic friends, and know that authentic friendships will happen for you.
4. Know the dark is valuable. We are all fallible. So you’ve made mistakes— just this week, just this morning, who hasn’t? The beauty of having faltered is that you can help the world with your experiences. Because we err and hurt, we can empathize when other people are hurting. When we can reach out of ourselves, move beyond our comfortable threshold, we can then be put into a position where we can hold other people up when they need it. We are most supported when we support others. Know that when you are vulnerable you can pour kindness into others, and except them to do the same for you. When you realize your flaws can bring us closer together, dare I say, help change the world, suddenly flaws seem less like liabilities, and more like assets. As my hubby says, it’s all about how you spin the story.
5. Know that you matter in this world. When I was a child, a teacher told me, “If I was your age, I wouldn’t be your friend. It can’t always be someone else, its you.” These words depleted me. Worse, I held onto this for menacing mantra for years—that given the choice, most people wouldn’t like me. As I got older, a lot of people appeared to feel uncomfortable around me, and for good reason. I was like a leech on them, desperately hoping they’d whitewash that one horribly undermining comment someone spoke over me years ago. That somehow others would make me okay. I lacked perspective. I refused to believe I mattered until someone said it to me. Well, now I know differently—I know I do matter, and that how my life matters is dependent on what I do from day to day, from minute to minute, from moment to moment. Know that you touch countless people’s lives every day, even if someone isn’t blogging or tweeting about it, even if your new scopes community doesn’t see it, it just is. Just like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, you do kind things that have a ripple effect you can’t possibly measure. Be the ripple.
6. Embrace the fuzzy. Learn to give yourself enough grace to accept personal platitudes. Learn that goodwill means little when you sit alone, wishing you could experience the world differently. Once we accept that we’re worthy of love and our dreams, the natural next step is to actually create those things—not what we think we should do; what we really want to do, when we want to do it. Get out into the world. Do that thing that scares and excites you. Recognize you’re awesome for doing it. Give yourself permission to fail. Feel the fuzzies when you learn to love yourself while doing it. Sometimes the greatest moments in life are when we stand up, even when we stand alone.
So, what does this all mean? For me, this has been a little uncomfortable for me, to be honest. I’ve yet again split myself open. But this time I’m not trying to change what’s inside. I’m grateful that others last evening reminded me that what I needed was in fact more introspection, and less plastic, artificial thoughts on what friendship should be. I’m just here telling you that I am flawed, like we all are, and that’s not only okay, but beautiful.
This tale does have a happy evening, folks.
Recently, as my readers may know, periscope has become one of my new past-times, and though some newer connections on the site have left me feeling frazzled, some have in fact been helpful and engaging. Dare I say, uplifting. I have found several great connections. Several awesome like-minded women of faith and family on periscope in the past few weeks (and if this message resonates with you, than be sure to check out Stephanie Cozby’s #LoveMeChallenge available on Katch too).
Moreover, I am taking up the baton of my new Periscope friend, Tami Decker, the co-host of an awesome Blab show called Topic Mamas (along with the awesome Jessica Hinojosa), and the morning spin-off scope, Coffee Chat (in case some of my readers may not have plugged-into these shows, it’s a must have scope follow for those new, and looking to renew their periscope connections.), and scope for the first time coming Monday.
Why Monday? As this week seems to be full of new challenges and endeavors, I will be finishing up work reports early, creating topic sheets for periscope, and… getting a new pixie cut. Yes, I’m cutting off over a foot of hair this weekend, and starting a new look, as well as a new social media platform. I’d love for you all to check me out there Monday. I’ll be on scope @LDYPrefers2Save; you will also be able to check out my link on twitter and watch the replay on Katch.
So, I hope these thoughts may help. They have certainly helped me. Especially as you walk away from the screen, and into your own.
Here’s to you,