This is a bit more of a personal post, and honestly, the topic for today hits pretty deep. I’m trying to become more okay with being vulnerable in such a public manner, because I know it’s the only way to be relatable to those who are reading. That said, it doesn’t come natural to me in anyway and is something I have to constantly push myself to be better at. Through this blog and writing in general, I find that I’m constantly growing, learning, and challenging myself to not only understand myself better but love myself more.
That turns us to today’s topic, which I believe anyone can relate to on any level: self-love. One of the biggest challenges that I have overcome, but still have to work at battling each and every day. I’ve always been someone that instinctually wants to put others needs before my own…and almost to a fault. It’s my nature and something I find myself to be good at. So much so that if someone I love hurts me, I struggle to acknowledge the hurt and instead want to make them feel better. I want to bury it. I want to forget about it and deal with it later on my own. This has led to experiences on experiences of scars that I’ve ignored and had to deal with later in life. I’ve had to learn, the hard way, to walk away from the things that no longer serve me or make me feel whole. Even in moments where I wanted to keep the person around, or stay in that job, organization- whatever it may be- just to people please and serve the other person better.
My desire to always be strong and not show weakness is a pride thing and always has been. I grew up in a culture (I’m Middle Eastern for those that don’t know) that focused heavily on always putting your best face forward and not showing weakness or vulnerability. In a way, our entire society associates sensitivity with weakness. I’m learning to train my brain to think differently. That though my heart is sensitive, it’s not a negative quality but instead a positive one.
I learned about self-love the hard way, you could say. As a child (I mean I was 12) I started “dating” (aka instant messengering) the same person up until I was 18 and we broke up two weeks before I moved to college. I think I can say for both of us, that it was a toxic relationship that was entirely self-dependent on the other person. I only bring this up because it completely transformed and shaped the way I not only see relationships, but the way I see myself and how I was able to rediscover myself as a young adult.
Relationships should only bring out the best in you. They are meant to enhance your life. They are meant to encourage. They are not meant to be self-serving or self-dependent. Through my college years, I slowly began to find my voice. I had to end friendships/relationships that were no longer healthy. I had to learn how to say no. I had to learn how to trust my instincts and follow my heart. And above all else, I had to learn how to love who I was to the core, because it was and will always be the foundation and strength of how our lives are lived.
I have always believed that everything happens for a reason. That’s been a little quote that I’ve repeated to myself and to others since I was in junior high. I trust that every person that comes into your life, or leaves your life, came and went to teach you something about yourself or about the world. I want to live my life focused on the positives instead of the negatives. I want to know that though that person, job, organization may not be a part of my life anymore- it was still essential to my life and vice versa. I have never been good at change, goodbyes, endings, but I’m learning how to adapt and accept life and all it’s different chapters. I’m learning to put myself first and learn to let go of the things in my life that simply just didn’t work out. Each day is a different challenge, but I’m learning to accept them all with open arms as long as I continue in the direction of forward.
I remember being 18 and feeling completely empty. I didn’t know who I was without this other person attached to me. I had given my time, energy, focus– everything- to someone else and I didn’t know how to show self-care and love toward myself. Again in college, I joined an organization that’s primary focus was to serve other people. It fit right into my niche. I would spend most of my days listening to other people, advising them, totally wrapped up in their life and issues that I again completely lost my sense of self. It was then that I decided not get my license to be a clinical psychologist like I had always grown up thinking I would do. It’s a slippery slope- because at the end of the day- I truly believe that at the core we all want to make a difference of some kind. I find making my difference and purpose to be in influencing, mentoring, and loving other people. But if we aren’t filled with love for ourselves, then what can we really give to others?
For the past 5 years, with each new season and each new change, I find myself having to refocus and reprioritize. Each person deserves to feel loved, treasured, and valued by the people around them. And if that’s not happening, you have to love yourself enough let go and be confident in knowing your worth.
I wish I could individually tell every single person in the world how valuable, unique, and important they are to this world. The idea that some people just can’t see it in themselves breaks my heart- but I get it more than anyone else because for a long while that was me. I’m to the point, now, that I know what I want in life and though all of it terrifies me- I wont settle for any less. I just wont.
& you shouldn’t either, because you deserve the very best.