The importance of loving who I am as a person was never meaningful until I began to build and cherish relationships with other people. As I matured, I realized the way I viewed myself affected the way I treated others. The perception I had of those around me began within myself.
I accepted what I thought I deserved, so naturally, whenever something good happened, I’d question it. I did not feel worthy of happiness, and because of it, it never lasted. I cheated myself out of opportunities and the exact thing I was chasing: happiness.
My relationships with my family and friends were always fragments of what I intended them to be; never allowing myself to fully connect with another person. Regardless of how much love and affection someone gave me, I was unable to accept it because I did not believe it. The paranoia of things not being what they seemed, persuaded me to question everyone’s actions towards me. It was easier to push people away than it was to address my doubts.
Resentment was my superpower; my defense mechanism.
Yet despite my efforts, I was poisoning myself. My conclusions were always negative before I ever saw “the bright side” of anything. There were even times I wanted to enter things like radio contests but didn’t because I “knew” luck wasn’t on my side; it was just a waste of time. I deprived myself of things simply because of my own self-doubt.
Years ago I embarked on a journey to fill the void I felt within; dissecting every aspect of my life along the way. Although I was going through the motions of living a productive, goal-driven life, I was not happy. I felt ungrateful for feeling the way I did. There were millions of people all over the world who lived happily in simplicity; yet, here I was living my middle-class, American life, moping around.
While overseas, away from the only life I knew, I became my own support system. It was then that I began to appreciate who I was as a person. It was more than appreciating the physical aspect. It was admiring my intellect and building my self-esteem. Feeling beautiful from within is what changed my outlook of the world around me. It changed the way I interacted with others.
When you feel good about yourself, you allow others to enjoy your presence.
Complimenting strangers became a thing for me. I found pleasure in doing things like telling the cashier at Petco (who had probably been standing her entire shift) that her nail polish was pretty; Or, telling my waitress that her brows were poppin’ because I know how time consuming makeup can be. I wanted to give out, what us millennials call, “good vibes” in a world where we are tend to have tunnel vision without regard for those surrounding us.
Once I took a step back and stopped obsessing about the things I couldn’t change, my focus shifted. I was grateful for my surroundings, acknowledging them gave me a different outlook both of myself and the life I actually had. Embracing my scars and failures allowed me to build a foundation from the inside out. I realized along the way that my downfalls came from the walls I was attempting to keep up when I had no infrastructure to begin with.
The steps I took in my journey can’t be found in any kind of “30-Day Be A Better You Challenge!”
There were no instructions to this; every day was unpredictable. I had to make choices daily that felt authentic to me. Those instincts came from within and because I listened, I now value the person I am. Society has an idea of how everyone should be shaped and molded but if we follow everyone else’s framework we forget to manufacture our own.
Do what works for you. There are seven billion people in the world and no two are exactly alike. As the saying goes,
“Admiring someone else’s grass does not make yours any greener.”
Begin with yourself and everything else will follow.