I've been pushing up against ALL my edges this week. I'm like a goat with a hurt hoof trying to stand straight on a splintered picnic table (this is a very real life example from today's farm visit). I lost my job and said stupid shit to my Mom. I went on a major learning curve with Loam— I'm pretty sure I could write the definitive book on what NOT to do when you're publishing your first print magazine— and listened as my ex told me that he would "never actively do anything to make me feel safe." These messy, mushy experiences felt like affirmation that my flaws will forever outweigh the good in me. It's true, I thought, turning in bed one night, I really am too flawed to be loved. I'm reactive and I talk too much about my feelings and I eat chocolate for breakfast and I'm sometimes really introverted and other times way too loud and I can't do basic math and my hair gets greasy when I don't wash it and the only person who saw all of me doesn't want anything to do with me and I'm a terrible driver and I never can do anything special with eggs. I always just end up SCRAMBLING them. Like an IDIOT.
Although much of this is true (please don't ever make me do math) it's not the absolute of who I am. I wish I weren't so reactive and I'm often frustrated at how slow I am to grow. Returning to Lily's manifesto reminded me that what matters is that I am open to learning, to loving anew. Even though it can be really freaking hard, I have to show compassion and forgiveness for my human bean self. Because I'm not special. I'm not exempt from making the same mistakes and having the same shit as anyone else. And there's beauty in that, and power, and the potential to do something incredible with this sumptuous life I've been loaned.
So what do I love about my emotionally unstable and chocolate-dependent self?
I love that I love deeply. I love that I am unafraid to be where I'm at. I love that a cup of tea and the morning sky and an open book will forever make me dizzy with joy. I love that I'll always have a second helping. I love that I bring my whole self to the table. I love that I'm playful and quick to laugh and eager for adventure and good at baking bread and bad at holding grudges. I love my eyes. I love my booty. I love my friends. I love my family. I love trees and succulents and pinky-orange sunsets (okay, this is just a list of things I love but I do love that I love to make lists...)
Even writing this, I was anxious to tack on modifiers, as if to say: yes, I'm good at going after what I want but it's only because I'm driven by fear and that booty? It's just an optical illusion (it's not). Our culture teaches us that we can't love ourselves lest we run the risk of having an ego. That's bullshit. A little ego is good. Loving yourself doesn't mean you think you are perfect. Loving yourself doesn't mean you aren't open to growth. Loving yourself means that you are available to the wholeness of who you are—all that's good, and all that's growing.
Articulating what you love about yourself is such a sweet form of self-care. If you're unsure how to start, do as Lily did and peruse through photos of your childhood self. When I look at the photo above, I see this sweet little girl with saucer eyes and a messy braid who loves to hike (still true) and eat (definitely still true). I see the me that could spend hours outside, telling stories and playing with friends and sitting in this hole my brother had made in our backyard. And all I can think is: I love that little girl! She's a fire starter and a storyteller and I am going to take good care of her.
You are so ridiculously lovable just as you are. Even if you have stuff. Especially if you have stuff. But you don't need me to tell you that. You already know.