On How We See Ourselves

Respect yourself, love yourself, because there has never been a person like you and there never will be again.


This afternoon while I was listening in on the 6th meeting of the day discussing the same things over, and over, and over I opened my Twitter app and started scrolling my timeline. I posted a few things that expressed my frustrated mood, since letting out a scream or poking my eyes out were not attractive options to me. I was “on” so I couldn’t even run to the kitchen to refill my coffee and get the fleeting pleasure of hot, bold, steamy nectar passing through my lips to my soul. But Twitter, that platform that feels to me at times like screaming into a void filled with echoes from faceless souls, was my escape. As my TL refreshed, a tweet caught my eye.

Why do you think people are attracted to you?

Don’t be modest.

Without thinking I typed: I get things done. People care about the results, not really me.

As the words appeared on my screen, I reread them and was struck by their meaning. I got that chill you get when something hits you. An epiphany. Did I really think that no one cared about who I am, that all my value was dependent on what I give, what I can do, for others? Did I as a person stripped of those actions and things have no value? Did I truly believe that no one loved me for me? For someone who has exchanged a life living in her mind, self absorbed, too scared and lacking in self worth to even feel my actions were meaningful to anyone, to one that is filled by actions, this struck me. Was my action based way of living hollow? What did this mean for one of my core tenements, to live a life of service?

Now, I like to think that there are some people in the world that like me for me. “Like” is a pretty easy bar to reach, as to me it can be given to the most shallow interaction. I like that guy who opened the door for me. I like that kid who made me laugh. I like the color of that car. I like the way that man is dancing. And so on. I even believe that there are a small number of people that love me for me (at least my mom, maybe my kids, and perhaps my BFF). The kind of unconditional love that even if I could give nothing, not even a kind word, I existing would be enough for these individuals to love me. That they would look deep inside, to the essence of my soul, and see my worth and think I am enough.

So if this is true, why did I type those words? The ones that seemed to indicate that I was only worthy to others based on what I could give and what I have? Clearly, though I have come such a long way in improving my feelings of self confidence, self worth, by changing not only my outer appearance but also my perspective from inward focus to outward, from ego to soul, I was still lacking enough in something to write those words. I always think that unprompted, seemingly thoughtless responses are the ones that reflect the innermost truths of our souls. So, what did these mean?

Now just as a conversation I had had with an old friend 4 years ago, here it was staring me in my face. I know I’m some things, and one thing I am is a person who avoids the unpleasant truth by thinking there is a time for everything. This way, though I know what it is, I may not have to act on that truth because, you know, the stars, planets, and billiards balls aren’t aligned to get the 8 ball in the corner pocket. So really I’m just optimizing the probability that my accepting and acting on that truth would result in the best outcome by waiting for the right moment (Yeah, it’s tough living in my brain, trust me). But all these machinations, though there’s probably some element of truth in them, still are a part of that person who rarely acted on anything because of self doubt. I thought back to the text I received yesterday from my best friend.

U must love yourself whenever U look in the mirror.

And there it was. Though I have come so far, there are still parts of me that I do not love. And my best friend being my best friend, she knew just what to say. Because the biggest part of what I don’t love is what I see in the mirror every morning. That bag of skin, muscle, and bones that houses all the rest of me that for the most part I do love. So, as has been my mode of operation on this journey, I recognize that the most work I have to do is there, reflected in front of me. I have lived so long inside myself and outside only through actions that I have neglected to embrace the physical side of this world. Someone once told me physicality is a powerful thing. I suppose that could have been interpreted as a pick up line, but at the heart of it is a truth I have been dancing around so far in my life. If this physical realm is meant to spur our spiritual growth, there is a certain logic to embracing and celebrating it through the means we have been given—our bodies. The feeling we get after a run, the focus on each muscle and breath during yoga practice, the movement of water across our legs and arms as we swim in the ocean. Focus on that interface between the inside of us and the outside world. Not to define myself by the shape of my nose, my height, or weight, but to realize the power of the physical space I inhabit and how I blend, meld, and shape within it.

As I started this blog this evening, my hundredth since I began this journey, I wanted this to be special. As I was struggling for the blog to take shape, my best friend sent me a message. In it was a challenge to post a black and white selfie on Facebook and celebrate the beauty I have and tag all my beautiful friends to share theirs. To lift each other up on this journey. If you’ve followed me this far on my writing journey, or know me in real life, you’ll know that I believe in signs. So, today I accept that challenge to love all parts of my physical self. The lumps, the rolls, the scars, the stretch marks, the wrinkles, all of me. And with that, I hope to move forward into yet the next stage of growth. For if you also know me, you know I’m all about making this the most meaningful ride, cherishing my gifts, opportunities, friends, family, colleagues, and sunset in paradise.

Much love to you all.