I have never liked being told what to do, not that that will come as a surprise to any of my regular readers (or friends, for that matter). But at the same time, I have bent over backwards, compromised myself and my intuition more times than I care to admit in order to keep people happy or (maybe worse) to fit in, to be liked.
I'm sure it's a habit common to so many of us here. But every time it's happened, every time I said yes or even maybe when I really wanted to say no, well, a little of that rebelliousness gets up, dusts itself off, and stalks away in search of someone with more willingness, more backbone, more confidence in herself.
Because that's what it comes down to, isn't it? Confidence. Confidence in who we are, faith in our intelligence and our innate beauty, in our charm and in our very right to exist. I don't care what we were taught or what politeness dictates--it's high time we took up space, asserted ourselves despite how the world/media/history has dictated...
I think we're all exquisitely tired of waiting, and yet we continue to use the language that perpetuates this myth that we're 'not yet' what or where or when we need to be. I'm not sure why we have such a hang-up about accepting who we are in this moment--the only moment, ironically, we can ever possibly inhabit.
Do we hate ourselves that much? Or, better question, do we fear ourselves that much? Do we fear how we'll be accepted, IF we'll be accepted? Or, maybe, somewhere deep down (way deep down, apparently) we know how powerful we are, and maybe, just maybe, that power scares us a little?
We think we're protecting ourselves--from rejection, from reality, from our own illusions or disillusions, but maybe we're protecting ourselves from that small, pulsing heart that radiates warmth and universal acceptance and pure, infinite power. What we don't realize is that that power is there to protect us, not destroy us. It's there to unite us in one blazing light while magically maintaining that...
I am quite certain I almost ruined my life in the pursuit of perfection. I'm not even sure whose definition I was following; most likely it was the most dangerous--one made up entirely in my poor, addled and misguided brain. But even recognition is rarely enough. We become so wedded to the idea of perfection, so thin-skinned yet strong-willed, afraid, eventually, even to leave the house for fear of marring the image, giving in to temptation, falling apart.
But at the same time, what's all that work for if not to be seen? It's the blessing and the curse--to be seen is too much and not enough. How much easier some days would be if we were carved from marble, unchanging, unfeeling, unambitious, but, what? Un-moving? Unmoved?
There are people out there comfortable with themselves or, if not comfortable, comfortable with their discomfort, comfortable with our universal imperfections. They are the truly charismatic, the authentically present souls we're inevitably drawn to. They are the truly...
It's hard enough to know yourself, much less to live comfortably, unapologetically in your own skin. I certainly haven't gotten either mastered, not even remotely. I feel as if I'm always apologizing for myself, for my arrival, my departure, my inherently rebellious nature that, apparently, is never going to change.
But what else is there? This is the arrangement of our cells, of our psychology and how else are we to live? How exhausting it is to edit ourselves, day in and day out, conforming and shaping and keeping quiet.
Well. Let's try. Let's try to live on and live up to the standards our higher selves set when we came into this world, to dance through our days to our own tune, never mind the melody that might already be playing.
In a world where shame seems to be both currency and language, it's hard to love ourselves at all, much less more each day. Speaking as someone for whom self-love doesn't come easily, I think it's maybe the only thing we *can* do. It's the only kindness guaranteed to heal whatever mentally, physically, spiritually ails us.
But it means we have to love all of it--and sometimes that is so exquisitely painful that it feels like failure. But I think it must be the opposite of failure and that, with practice, one day it will feel like it.
Comparison is the thief of joy--how very, very, heart-breakingly true. I don't know if we can ever stop comparing ourselves to others, but I do know we can catch ourselves as we do it. We can remind ourselves that we are worthy, that we are magical, and that we are hella strong to have gotten this far and still be as kind as we are, as gracious as we are, as creative and whip-smart as we are. As beautiful as we are.
Because you know what? We are beautiful, and thank-you-very-much-but-eff-off to those who would say otherwise, to those (including ourselves) who insist on upholding a standard that is unhealthy, one that has made us miserable for far too long. Succumbing to this whole comparison-stealing-joy thing is to uphold those standards ourselves. And we all know where change has to begin...
So we start noticing habits, reminding ourselves along the way that we are enough--we have always been enough.
I imagine, unless you're a monk (and even then...) it's almost impossible for us to accept ourselves as we are. Or, even if we could accept ourselves, then to like ourselves. I wonder if it was always like this. I wonder if my grandmother ever sat, frowning, in front of her mirror? I wonder if she was constantly comparing herself to others, worrying about how much she did (or didn't) eat, how much she did (or didn't) move. And I wonder if we've always, always been this exhausted?
I had another more-or-less sleepless night to add to the collection, but I did have a realization while staring into space, running again and again over the timeline of my life--one of the reasons I'm so hesitant to commit to anything is because I'm afraid of being unavailable for whatever else happens to be out there.
I have a strong suspicion I'm not alone in this--we're so afraid of being unavailable to someone, of not being what they need, that we forget who we are, if we ever knew in the first place (but surely we did, didn't we?). This was my middle-of-the-night realization--I have no idea who I am because I tried for so long to be whatever was needed so that I'd fit in, be accepted, be valued.
The question, of course, is how to stop? How to put on the brakes without causing a massive pileup, how to look around and figure out who the hell you are and how the heck you got here. Maybe just the intention is enough. Let's hope so, because I'm looking forward to some sleep sometime so...
Most of us do something that frightens us every day--sometimes getting out of bed is daunting enough. But how often do we attempt to tackle something that frightens us straight to the core of who we (think we) are? I reckon, for me at least, it ain't that often. You can't be brave without being frightened, and I consider myself pretty brave for someone who *really* enjoys a good comfort zone.
But yesterday I did a thing that frightened me so much, I wasn't sure how I would navigate, not only the rest of my day, but the rest of my days. Perhaps that sounds dramatic, but for me, it most certainly was.
So. There are levels of bravery and levels of scary things and I think we must judge this journey on our own merits. No one is doing this living for us--everything we feel, everything we navigate, if it's true to us, it's legitimate. Don't let anyone downplay or belittle your achievements. You are one fierce warrior and your journey is nothing but epic.
I don't know if we can ever truly separate ourselves from the damage done to us by the media, by its loudly projected expectations. And I'm not sure we can ever really forgive ourselves for giving into it, for compromising our health and safety and sanity for so long. And while we can see what it does to us--that devotion, not to gods, but to demons--there's a small, persistent voice that whispers, 'yes, but still...'
All we can do, I think, is stamp our feet and make some noise, drowning out that nagging voice which, I think (I hope) will grow weaker by day. We're in this together, petals--that's a lot of foot-stomping, and a heck of a lot of noise.