After a night full of disappointments and shameless comparisons based on browsing social media, I became angry and despondent. My life compared to others seem so routine and mundane and I don’t know “lifeless.” It’s very all work no play with a slight mix of excitement in between. I was kind of envious of how others were so unabashedly living their lives to the fullest (or so it seemed) while I play it “safe” living a disciplined and uneventful life. I don’t go out much as a parent of two young children but sometimes I crave the careless and kid-free life of doing what I want when I want and living it up with other fun-loving beings like me. And then as I was taking my shower that night wallowing in my despair on the brink of tears, this message whispered in my ear “Go where you are loved.”
What that means to me is to make the conscious choice to no longer occupy spaces with people I don’t feel fully accepted or loved by. I no longer prescribe to cutting people off like I did in my younger days. Instead as a somewhat mature 40 something year old, I only invest my energy with those who I know adore me or at the very least appreciate all my quirks. I am not the most lovable person; I can be downright crabby, negative, boring, and quite brash. However, I am a fiercely loyal person who would do anything to make someone happy and feel appreciated. When this is not reciprocated, I recoil into my shell (blame this on my rising sign which is Cancer) and I don’t come out for a long time. I used to hate this about myself, but this is a protective mechanism I’m sure others share. I am a believer in that phrase “When someone shows who they are, believe them.” And I do…I do not hesitate to not only believe them but distance myself. I used to think that this was childish but now as I grow older, I recognize that this is a sign I know my worth.
Do not force yourself in spaces you no longer belong
I often would make myself do things I didn’t want to do with people I didn’t want to do them with. I felt badly saying “no” without a solid excuse. Now I just say it. “No.” I don’t want to do things with people I do not feel respected or appreciated by. I would rather be home spending time with my kids or just resting or writing. For me, being somewhere just to be somewhere is not enough for me anymore. I want to be somewhere with people that feels like “home.” Home is a place where I feel that I can be my true self and not hold back how I think or what I feel. I often feel like a ‘poser’ with others because I’m afraid I might offend someone with something I say because it contradicts something they feel and then ruin the fun everyone else is having. I feel like I’m sitting on pins and needles, watching my tongue, scared I’m going to mess up. I have gotten tired of keeping up this act and would rather just relax at home and do me. Even though it does get lonely and boring sometimes I don’t have to be afraid of any form of reproof.
I think that whatever your friend or family space is, you should be able to fit right in like how you fit in to your most comfortable favorite pair of shoes. If you feel uncomfortable or things just feel “off” then this is your sign to leave. It is ok to excuse yourself from the situation. Being an adult with responsibilities, you don’t often get time to do things you want, so why shouldn’t you actually enjoy the time you spend out with others? If you find yourself wishing you were home, stay home next time. Or better yet, find your people, village, or whatever new term they are calling it nowadays.
Find what makes you happy
What makes you happy can be anything from a new hobby that brings you joy or switching up your routine. I am a huge proponent of self-care. It truly can be the little things such as taking a nice bubble bath, painting your nails, taking a long walk. You don’t have to have a lot of money to do something nice for yourself. Connecting with friends is also important but be selective about who you connect with. Make sure that the friends you connect with uplift you instead of making you feel worse about yourself. Sometimes just a phone call or a text message with these individuals can brighten your day if you can’t find the time to connect face to face.
Be your authentic self
I know this is an overly used term that makes me roll my eyes when others say it, but I do believe that this is important to someone’s emotional well-being. When you try to be someone else to be liked or accepted, it is like wearing someone else’s skin. And as disgusting as that sounds, is as uncomfortable as it feels. As I enter into the new year, I pledge to myself to be me even if others don’t like or accept it. And if they continue to not accept it, I can also choose not to spend time with them. I am tired of being in nonreciprocal relationships. And you should be too. Whether it is a friend, family member, or significant other, you deserve to be loved and valued for who you are.
Don’t get duped into self-comparison
You never really know what truly going on in someone’s life behind closed doors. Trying to judge the quality of people’s lives by social media is the silliest thing you can do, yet we do it all the time. People generally post the best moments of their lives. They don’t post videos of the arguments they have with their significant other right before they snap that picture or themselves right after waking up looking a mess or the slow moments out with friends at the club. They post what will captivate others to want to covet their lives. So, don’t force yourself to do things you don’t want to just because you see others doing the same. If you like being home, do that. It’s not about filling up your social media with pictures and videos because at the end of the day if social media goes away, all you are left with is your life. Live it the way you want to not the way that social media tells you that you should. Do YOU.
I don’t know if anyone ever reads these posts I write or if I’m just writing to myself to get these thoughts out of my head, but I wish nothing but peace to those who read my posts. I want people to feel heard and seen if they are going through the same situation and feel less alone. Even though I can’t reach out to you across this screen, I want you to know that you are loved. And if you don’t feel like anyone loves you, you can always find the strength to love yourself. Unapologetically and fully the way you deserve to be loved….
This post is dedicated to Shanquella Robinson and her family. This unspeakable tragedy has shaped the way I see the world and how truly precious life is. Your daughter was a bright light that was put out too soon by those she trusted and who she thought loved her. I hope that her story can be a lesson for everyone to be sure you are surrounded by those that genuinely love you and cherish you with every inch of their lives. May you find peace in this tremendous loss.