I was sick earlier this week and, while taking a photo of a plant in my living room, I decided to prop my camera up on the couch and take some self-portraits. My nose was red and raw, my skin sticky with sweat from fever, and my eyes felt heavy and unable to open all the way. But….I sat down and took some photos of myself, sickly and feeling terrible, anyways.
It had been a long time since I took self-portraits. Just an honest-to-goodness photo of myself. Not a selfie to post on insta or to snap to my friends. Just me-time in front of the camera for no reason other than I can. It was a good time to check-in with myself.
I try to map growth and keep track of the realizations I have about myself. I do this mentally, or in writing, or in conversations with friends. Here are some of the things I’ve been learning, or re-learning, about myself lately:
- There is a member of my family who I have spent the last 23 years trying desperately to please. And even though I know I do not need someone else’s approval to validate my worth, I seek it from this person anyway. Desperately. And always failing. Even though I know that this person has mental health problems, and issues with self-worth & character, I try so hard to please. Earlier this year, I was out for drinks when I told my date, “All my life, I’ve only ever wanted to please [this person].” He looked surprised and then smiled sadly, and I realized that that was the first time I’d ever admitted that truth to myself. So there it is. And I frequently allow myself to break down and cry hysterically because of it, asking myself why I am not enough for that person.
- Last night a friend with a substance abuse problem called me on the phone to harangue me about everything that he finds wrong with me. This isn’t the first time he has verbally attacked me while drinking. You are so judgmental even though you think you are not. You’re so flippant about dating and don’t actually care about the people you date. You’re always trying to start an argument about every little thing. I cried myself to sleep last night, after texting my co-worker to say, “Even if they are an addict, it still hurts to hear awful things said to you, about you.” Sometimes I let the opinions of my friends, opinions rooted in their insecurities & pain rather than my own flaws, get in the way of how I truly see myself.
- I’m heartbroken and pining after a boy right now, even though I get scolded by my friends for doing so. I tried going on a date last week, but got home and was overwhelmed with grief and sadness missing this other boy. He was the second guy I’ve ever loved, and only the second person in my life who I’ve ever wanted to be with. It took me two years to get over my last boyfriend, and now I’m worried that it will be another two years until I’m ready to date again….and probably some time more after that until I find another person who I want to date. It seems like for some people, it is so easy to find someone and fall in love and make life work perfect. To find someone who is willing to make sacrifices for you, just as you are willing for them. I want to find that person, and I wish life wasn’t making it so hard.
- My friend Lily wrote a piece on her blog today about timing in relationships. I love what Lily has to write about dating, but this one is a concept that I cannot agree with. I’ve never understood – or allowed – stupid reasons for break-ups. Timing is one of those things. If you truly love someone and want to be with them, you find a way to make it work no matter what obstacle is in the way. I live with the staunch belief that relationships – and that includes friendships – are the most important thing in life. When you need help, it isn’t your achievements that come to the rescue. It isn’t the places you’ve been or the jobs you’ve had. It’s your friends. So why do we spend so much of our lives prioritizing stupid things and letting love & relationship get put on the back-burner?
- I have a business idea that I’m really excited about. I’ve had a streak of creativity as of late and my mind is brimming with ideas of things that I want to do. I came up with a children’s storybook idea and am also formulating an idea for a business venture for myself. I love my job so much. But I don’t want to die wondering, “What if I had gone out on a limb for my professional goals? What would it have been like to develop, run, & power my own business?”
This is where I shamelessly am in life right now. I’m okay admitting to be the girl who cries over stupid things and whose heart is hung up on someone else and who has fears of failure. Although I don’t agree that I actually have the flaws that my one friend says that I do, I know that I have others. And I know that they hold me back and that I need to work on them. So here I am, checking-in, and taking full responsibility for where I’m at right now.