I wanted everyone to like me...
I’ve spent the last 20+ years or so seeking validation from those around me. I believed that the opinions of others was, somehow, far more important than my own. I struggled with my identity through all of school. I tried to mold myself into someone that I thought I wanted to be and what I thought others wanted me to be rather than focusing on the person I already was, already am. My insides did not match my outsides and the bottom line was simple: I wasn’t happy and I didn’t love myself, despite the beautiful smile seen across my face.
I had friends, yet never enough. Quantity over quality was far more important back in the day, and I remember exhausting myself trying to play nice to every single person, even the ones that would pick on me, and make me feel like sh%t.
I was so caught up in keeping up with the latest trends that I actually permed my hair in middle school, because that was in for some odd reason. And, I hated it. I remember trying to force myself to attend school the next day, it was brutal. My insecurities skyrocketed.
Then there were the weight issues. I spent weeks starving myself so I could be ‘skinny’. I counted calories, avoided certain foods, or food altogether, because for some crazy reason experiencing intense migraines from lack of food was far more exciting than feeling good. At least I was skinny, right? Wrong. I wasn’t healthy. I was tired all the time, angry, and avoided myself completely.
But why? Why did I feel like I was never ‘cool’ enough? Where was the lesson on positive self-talk?
We grow up, and still, as a society, we worry about the approval we receive from others. We are always exploring ideas on how we can show our love and support for those we care for and those we have yet to meet. So much so, that we exhaust ourselves and spend very little, or zero time, on showing up for ourselves.
With that in mind, what if we spent more time on ourselves instead of others? Really focusing on what brings us joy, and doing that before anything else. How would that make us feel? No mask. No shame. No guilt. Do we even know what loving ourselves feels like? What it looks like?
For me, I’m still trying to figure it all out.
However, for the past year or so, I have had the pleasure of spending an outrageous amount of time with myself. I used to be surrounded by at least one person nearly every moment of the day. It was, and remains, an adjustment. But it has been one of the best experiences of my entire life.
I had no idea how cool I truly was, or truly am.
I know, I know. You probably chuckled while reading that sentence. But it is true. I have discovered hidden talents, space to breathe, and the ability to laugh at myself. I know I’m not perfect, but I’m ok with that, because I find comfort in knowing that I can at least enjoy the company of myself for days on end without needing any outside distractions convincing me otherwise.
I’m learning to sit with my emotions, all of them. Most importantly, I’m learning how to say no. No to engagements. No to someone else's opinion. No to the environments that bring me little to no happiness. No to the ideas that I am supposed to look a certain way, act a certain way, or be a certain way. It isn’t easy, and with this comes a lot of heartbreak, suffering, and exploring the depths of my subconscious, which means reliving past traumas to help heal old wounds so I can grow positively into the future. It’s worth it.
Discovering the meaning of love, how to experience it fully, and how to give and receive it without expectations, is not an easy walk in the park. However, we were all born with an innate desire to find it, give it, and receive it. How can we continue to show up for ourselves in a way that lifts us up so we can be there to support those we love with 100% attention and support?
If there is one thing I am realizing during this self-love evolution, it is that through consistency and dedication I have found myself experiencing far more energy and acceptance for everything and everyone around me. I can give more love to those around me because I have more love for myself. The more love I allow myself to experience, the more I find that the people who exude more judgement and negative energy are beginning to feel so miniscule, almost nonexistent to me. My need for approval is slowly diminishing and this feeling of liberation is quickly expanding.
Truth is, there isn't enough time to care about what others think of us. This is your life, no one else’s.