I am a damn treat.
Have you heard me say this recently? It has become a bit of a catch-phrase of mine and I drove my entire family insane over Thanksgiving weekend as most of my speech was littered with this phrase. And although it started from a place of sarcasm, it kind of became non-sarcastic (unsarcastic? dis-sarcastic?) with time. I AM a damn treat. However, don't worry, this isn't going to be about me going on this rant about how amazing I am. We're going to dive a little bit further down this rabbit hole or why I started including this is my day to day vernacular - and why you should as well.
I spent a lot of my life thinking that I was less-than. As a teenager, I sought validation from people around me; I thought that to love myself, I needed others to love me. It was exhausting, I oozed desperation and self-loathing. I aspired for better in the most self-destructive ways and created insecure relationships with people willing to abuse the fragile state I was in. Not to mention this perpetuated my anxiety beyond belief. "Hot mess" doesn't nearly describe the way I was living. I had people who loved me, but they felt like exceptions to the rule, I felt like I didn't deserve them.
And then to top it all off, I got into a relationship. I dated this guy who was wonderful but I shifted all my self-worth into the foundation of this relationship. I was enough because I was loved by someone, because someone else saw me as enough. But what happened when that relationship ended? I was shattered; nobody loved me anymore and therefore I was unlovable. I had placed all my value in something that no longer existed. I spent the next three months literally flinging myself anywhere, on anyone, trying to patch up the hole in my life where my relationship should have been.
Now this next idea is credited to Daniel Schloss (go watch his comedy special "Jigsaw", 10/10). I loved myself at a whopping 10%, so anyone who cared about me at 20% loved me TWICE AS MUCH as I loved myself. TWICE. It felt like the sun and the moon, until you actually think about all the things you like 20%. Here are the things in my life that I like 20%
I would love to tell you that I had this "light bulb" moment. This sudden realization that I was better, but I didn't. I would love to tell you the key to self-love is spinning around three times and jumping up and down on one leg and then TADA! Self-love! But it happened. Slowly. With time, I realized that I was caught in this loop. I was anxious because I needed others to love me and because I was so stressed about what other people thought, nobody wanted to be around me. The things that made me great were overshadowed by the things I hated about myself. This dependency on others also allowed me to shift blame in my life. Nothing was my fault because I was nothing, I was only what other people made me, so my faults were their faults. All good things were just a lucky shot and all bad things were someone else's problems.
But like I said, with time I shifted my values. I started taking credit for my actions, both good and bad. Being responsible for the things you do means that you are the sum total of your decisions. (See my last post). Taking responsibility for the good things was easy. Taking responsibility for the bad things was hard.
A prime example is grades. If I did poorly on a test then I had to think, how hard did I actually study. Did I give it my all or some half-ass attempt? Because if I gave it my all, if I could confidently say that, then there is nothing else I could do and I had to be proud of myself for the mark I got. But if I didn't use all my resources, TAs, office hours, extra help, then the shitty grade was on me. It was my responsibility. Frankly, I'm still learning to do this. I'm still learning to take responsibility for the bad things, because it isn't easy. But I'm learning and that's what matters.
And once you are the sum total of your actions, you are something. You have tangible evidence of the things that you are. You are the job that you got because you interviewed well and you put the hours in. You are a friend because you treat those around you with respect. You are, you are, you are. And I began to realise, I am a lot of things. I am a baker, a singer, a sister, a friend, a student, a writer, a philanthropist. I am all these things because I went out and I made them true, and nobody in this world can take those things away from me, because they're mine.
You don't need to love yourself 100%. Loving yourself 100% at times can be bad as well, it can stop you from changing and growing and being better than you are. Right now I love myself at about 80%, which isn't ideal but I'm getting better. I still have things I want to work on, but I'm on the right trajectory and most importantly, I'm proud to be who I am. There are still days I look in the mirror and I'm unsure, but 80% is a hell of a lot better than 10%. And for someone to be my sun and moon they need to love me at at least 80%. And to put that in perspective, my list of things I love at 80% are:
So I am a damn treat because I made myself that way. I took an 18-year-old girl with chronic panic attacks and a self worth lower than the pits of hell and made her into a young women who is about to graduate university (should all go as planned). And yes, the world will throw things at me that are out of my control. I cannot control the weather or time or the actions of those around me, but I can control me and that is enough. I am enough. And I am a damn treat.
From me, with love, to you,
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