Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started. When you start, you’ll begin to understand who you are.
My mom gives me the best advice ever. After listening to this Loveumentary podcast episode (http://www.loveumentary.com/episode-32-kiran-and-meimei/), here’s what she said to me via email. Think it’s worth sharing.
The thing is to not second guess what the other person is thinking. And brutal truth, having no secrets is the key because it all comes out of the wash at the end of the day. Try to tell the other person how you truly feel. And if they don’t feel the same way, don’t look at it as rejection but a time saver.
I don’t know if its a human condition or stupidity that people wind up saying stuff that they wish had not, only to end up hurting the other person. If we stop and self-edit what we really want to convey to each other, there would be less game play, and hence, hurt feelings.
I guess its all part of each person’s growth and finding themselves while finding true love for another person.
Anyway, each podcast gives me hope for a good catch! :-)
(PS: My awesome mom is single—so silver fox bachelors, holler.)
I’ve written over 300 blog posts.
This is by far the most vulnerable one I’ve written to date.
And it’s about my biggest secret:
I don’t really love myself.
On some level, I know that I am a woman with a supernaturally compassionate heart. That I am extremely loyal. That I have a maniacal work ethic and a ton of grit. That on a good day, my soul radiates in my smile.
And I know, for all those things and some others, that I should love myself.
But the truth is, I don’t.
Knowing something is very different from living something. Sometimes, I confuse myself. I assume that just because I know I should love myself, that means I actually do. But, as with anything else in life, it’s not about the talk.
It’s about the walk.
And the walk I’ve been doing for most of the 27 years of my life has not been a very self-loving one.
I’ve clung to extraordinarily limiting beliefs about myself:
"I’m not beautiful. I’m not desirable. If I ever do fall in love, the guy will surely abandon me. I’m not worthy of love. No one will ever love me."
Even though I know these thoughts don’t serve me, I cling to them.
Because I’d rather be right than free.
Even though freedom from the shackles of self-hatred is what I really desire, the easy thing to do is just be right about my foundational beliefs—about myself, my relationships, and the world. That’s the easy, less immediately painful thing to do.
Even though I know better, on the basis of my actions, I don’t live that out. And I deeply struggle with living it out because I refuse to really, deep down in my heart, believe it.
That I am beautiful.
I am desirable.
I will make a man very joyful and proud some day.
I am loved.
I love myself.
I’ve been faking it—the self-love. I’ve been knowing it in my head, but not living it through my heart.
It wasn’t until today that it became obvious in the most painful possible way: two men in my life gave me the exact same feedback. One has spent a lot of time with me; the other hasn’t. Both know me equally well—very well—even if I don’t like to admit it.
Because I’d rather be right about all the ways I’m not lovable, than be free to just drop it and love myself. All the parts of me. Every single crazy, awesome, insane, confusing, powerful part of me.
Honest to God, I’m trying to please you. But it’s still not good enough for you. You’re still so critical!
There’s no way I can win.
You make so many assumptions, and usually they are the worst-case scenarios.
I really do care, but you don’t.
You saying I don’t care doesn’t make me want to care more.
I feel like I’m being dissected and the lens in which you’re dissecting me under is bigger than I can ever measure up to.
…and this one hit me the most:
It’s not actually me that you like, Melissa. It’s this made up version of me in your head that you like. That’s who you really wish to engage with, not me. And that’s why you are getting frustrated because you’re not getting him. You’re getting me instead.
These words from two wonderful men in my life hit me like a ton of bricks. I love these men for being honest with me. For sticking by me and dealing with my crazy. And I can be really fucking insane. Confusing, demanding, cutting, blaming, too busy feeling sorry for myself to see how I hurt the people closest to me.
That’s what happens when you’re constantly taking jabs at yourself—inevitably, you miss and hit the people closest to you, instead.
It would have been easier for these guys to cut and run. To not stick out the project. To not write the long and thoughtful email response. To not really give a shit at all about my growth. It says a great deal about them that they’ve stuck by me even through all the crap I’ve said and done.
And because I care for and admire these two men, I couldn’t help but wonder what their words, which I know at my core come from a place of love, say about me.
When I sit back and look at this list above, I can’t help but well up with tears in my eyes. Because I showed up so poorly for them. Because I made them feel the opposite of how I really feel about them. And perhaps most of all, because I didn’t show up well for myself.
It has nothing to do with perfection. It has to do with treating myself, and thus others, with the kind of love, respect, kindness, forgiveness, and compassion that I could be really proud of if today was the last day God gave me.
It also doesn’t surprise me to hear all these things. As much as they cut into the deepest part of me, what is perhaps most surprising is that none of this feedback is surprising.
I’ve heard this feedback before.
In a less-than-conscious way, I’ve spoken these words to myself. It might as well be the sweet, pure 5-year-old Melissa talking to my 27-year-old self:
Honest to God, I’m trying to please you. But it’s still not good enough for you. You’re still so critical! There’s no way I can win. You make so many assumptions about me that aren’t true. The lens in which you’re dissecting me under is bigger than I can ever measure up to.
And most of all…
I’ve stacked the deck not in my favor. I’ve set myself up for major failure. I’ve given myself a list of things I MUST be in order to love myself, and in order to be loved by others.
Once I do, he’ll love me. I’ll love myself. I’ll be worthy. I’ll be happy.
It crushes my heart that I’ve made two people I really care about feel this way. And I’m sure the list is longer than that.
But it also doesn’t surprise me.
Because I haven’t loved myself.
I have flat-out rejected the reactions and emotions I don’t like or expect from myself. I have been clinging onto horrendous beliefs about how unlovable I am (and how loved by others I’ll never be)…because as much as they don’t serve me, if I admit I’ve been wrong about myself, then my whole foundation crumbles. I have to start again from scratch. I have to go through the pain of rebuilding again. There are parts of who I think I am that I need to kill off—the dead ends—in order to be healthy enough to grow strong roots again.
I have given myself an impossible standard to live up to (i.e. utter perfection), and have refused to accept myself as “enough” because I haven’t reached my unrealistic image of what I think I need to be to earn love.
Like love is a thing I could ever earn in the first place.
This is the ironic Truth that I’ve said a hundred times before, but I’m only now beginning to understand:
"You have to love yourself first."
Until I accept and love myself for my blemishes as much as my strengths, for my heartbreak as much as my joy, for my crazy as much as my sane, for my fallibility as much as my success…I won’t be fully ready to love someone else.
And that matters to me more than anything else in the entire world: to be able to love people mindblowingly well.
Until I fully accept and love myself—not by words, but by sentiment and self-care—I will always project my lack of self love onto those around me. Especially those I care most about.
There is no stronger motivation to love myself well than that. Because when my life is over, I don’t want to go down not loving myself, simply and only because I decided I couldn’t. And, I also want people to know how extraordinarily loved and valued they were by me. I want to be a mirror that accurately reflects how incredible I think the people in my life are- and how much I love them for being exactly who they are.
But I have to do it for myself first.
While this will require the greatest act of genuine surrender of my life, there is respite in this ultimate Truth:
Deciding to be genuinely loving toward ourselves takes a single moment.
It takes a conscious, consistent effort to uncover the pain we’ve gone through, the lies we’ve been telling ourselves, the heartbreak we’ve experienced, and the image we have of who we are that may or may not be accurate—or serving our honest growth as individuals, and for one another.
It takes a single moment to start loving myself.
It takes a single moment to decide.
And while I know I’ll be imperfectly accepting and loving of myself in the process of the gradual, sustainable self-love that is to follow, the decision itself only takes a single moment to make.
And that moment starts right now.
When people have advice, they’re really just talking to themselves in the past (or future).
This is how it should feel when you fall in love.
There is joy in hardship and heartbreak.
Love your life. It’s not about the hand your dealt, but that you get to play the game.
You don’t go on a journey around the country to capture 100 great love stories and not think about what it means to find “The One.”
So many of us (women in particular) approach the next potential partner we meet and the first question we ask: “Is this The One?”
That’s a heavy question, isn’t it? It puts a ton of pressure on every interaction. We lose focus. We lose sight of the joy in meeting someone new, discovering who that person is, learning whether we dance well with him or her.
And unfortunately, that’s precisely the reason why we’re rarely able to accurately discern whether the people we get to meet could, in fact, be the one we really want to end up with.
"Is this person the one?"
That question hints at a lack of trust that the universe is unfolding exactly as it should. The truth is, the next person that comes into your life is going to be EXACTLY the one. Maybe it’ll be for a conversation; maybe it’ll be for a lifetime.
The next person you meet will, in fact, be the one. And if there’s a person after that, he or she will be “The One,” too.
You aren’t responsible for predicting the next 50 years of your life whenever you go on a first date. That’s basically what you’re asking yourself to do by starting with the question, “Is this person the one for me?”
Your responsibility is simply to come to each One with an open heart, and an open mind. And let that person teach you what you need to know. So you can be a better woman or man. So you can be the best version of The One for the next One you meet. Because you’re someone else’s future “The One” too, you know.
And, if you’re lucky, you discover the lesson the world has been meaning to teach you all along:
That YOU are the person you’ve been waiting for. You are the limitless source of love. And whether you’re single or in a great relationship or in a relationship you’re questioning, that’s perfect for you.
You are where you are because there’s a lesson (or twenty) that you must learn to evolve to the next best version of you, which brings you closer to your next One.
So embrace where you are. Learn what you can.
The next person who walks into your life will be exactly the right One for the next set of lessons you need to learn.
And if they help you realize that you are, indeed, the One you’ve been waiting for—that there are a million reasons why you’re lovable and worthy…
I think that’s when you should hang on and not let go.
I don’t know about you, but my productivity starts to go out the window when I’m feeling stuck in a job or project, unclear about my goals and priorities, or feeling down about my life’s circumstances or my interpretation of them.
I stop being productive because I don’t know what I’m working toward. And because of it, my self-esteem is low. And because of that, I don’t see the value in my most finite resource: TIME.
You know when I’m most productive?
When I am in flow. When I’m getting enough rest. When I’m fully feeling and owning that I’m 100% responsible for the outcome of my life (and how I perceive the way it’s turning out), and make decisions or shape my thoughts and emotions according to how I desire to process and feel.
If you’re not feeling productive, I’d invite you to not create a time management system, download another app, buy a new planner, or add more stuff to your calendar.
Instead, look at what’s going on in your life that’s causing you to not value your own time. How is that a reflection of where you’re truly struggling to find clarity, meaning, and purpose? How is your procrastination a reflection of your lack of self-esteem or personal sense of value?
If you get clear on where you’re stuck, what you really want, and how to get from where you are to where you want to be, then the inspiration will naturally come to you. You’ll be productive and it’ll take no effort at all—because when you’re clear on what you’re doing, what you want to do (more of or differently) and why it matters to change, then you’ll have boundless determination to make the time to do those very things. Or at the very least, to figure out how to do those things via trial and error.
If you want to make great use of your time, start respecting it.
And if you’re wondering why you haven’t been respecting your time, start looking at how much you respect yourself.
Productivity doesn’t have to be hard. You don’t need fancy systems or more process.
If you’re not feeling productive, all you really need is to check how and why you place the low value you do on your time.
And then do something to up the value.
That’s the only productivity system you really need.
I love the last few lines of this:
Don’t try to be perfect. Just be an excellent example of being human.
How often do we set ourselves up for failure by trying to be our own idea of perfect? And you know what’s really weird? Perfect isn’t even fun.
It’s boring. It makes us un-relatable. Inaccessible. Hard to be around.
You know what is fun, though?
Being unabashedly you, which most definitely includes your quirks. Being okay being a nerd, or goofy, or super serious, or secretly obsessed with cartoon characters or anime. Being fiercely passionate. Being outspoken, but still willing to admit when what you believe may not be the best or right thing. Being willing to look silly. Having an adventurous spirit. Knowing you’ll have fun and make the best of wherever you are and whoever you’re with.
I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather be around that kind of person over a “perfect” person any day of the week.
We forget sometimes that being human is about our flaws as much as it is about our strengths. Our strengths allow us to feel like we have what it takes to grow…but it’s our weaknesses that allow us to connect to and relate with others.
Genuine connection is invaluable.
Where are you trying to be perfect in your life?
I say: get messy. Be boldly, unabashedly you. Give others the courage to do the same.
That’s part of what it means to live fully: to be okay with all the sides of you, and embrace all the sides of other people.
It’s not about being perfectly.
It’s about being perfectly you.