I’ve discovered that the biggest lesson you’ll ever learn is that you don’t have to give a f*ck about some things. Not about everything, but some things.
You should always have enough self-respect to show discipline, courage, and loyalty in your career, your relationships, and your image. When I was growing up, I always heard that you should respect others, that you should be kind, and that you should forgive. Yes, all of that is true.
But, you also must be kind, forgiving, and respectful to yourself.
I haven’t always had an easy life. In grade school, I was the loser who everyone constantly bullied and picked last in gym class. I was chubby and had so much acne you could have played a connect-the-dots game on my cheeks. I constantly felt insecure, loved boys who only asked me to the dance as a cruel joke, and was so unpopular that my parents came to recess one day with hula-hoops and a boombox… just so kids would play with me. (Clearly, I’ve just dated myself!)
High school was more of the same, but instead of others bullying me, they chastised me for being engaged. Hindsight is 20/20, though. After my ex-husband dropped me off at my parents’ house, screaming that he never loved me, I realized just how much life can suck, even after you’re old enough to take your first legal sip of vodka.
I’ve cast friends away because their happiness made me bitter.
They’d tell me they were pregnant, and I’d end the friendship. They had relationships, first apartments, and engagement rings, but I was 23, living in my parents’ attic, and hoping that a f*ck boy would ask me what I was doing later. My prayers were always the same: Lord, fix my helpless, depressing love life (a.k.a. #beingsinglesucks).
Eventually, those troubled, drama-induced years passed. Now, I’m an old married lady, trying to get pregnant, working 9-5, with a home that never seems to stay clean, regardless of how many weekends I sink into being responsible. My mom has passed away, my circle of friends has decreased dramatically, and in the year since my mom died, my brother, who lives five minutes from my apartment, has never visited. That’s actually how I realized how important it is to not give a f*ck about some things. I’ve learned to consider the source. When someone constantly acts like an asshole, you can’t be surprised when they act like an asshole. Holding unrealistic expectations for people will only let you down.
I spent a large portion of my life trying to please other people; trying to be kind, forgiving, and respectful. I’ve learned that you can’t respect anyone if you don’t respect yourself.
Respect your feelings first.
It’s normal to feel, to bleed, to miss someone, to be foolish, to be lovesick, and to be angry. It is normal to feel like you’re making mistakes and to feel disappointed when you make them. It’s normal to feel excited, even if the day before you felt like you were a shadow of yourself. It is normal to act like a human being. You’re not a twig; devoid of emotions.
We grow up believing that we need to fit a specific criteria. Boys shouldn’t cry. Women shouldn’t have such high standards. Men should be more sensitive. Men should be tougher. Women need to stay strong, to weather the storm, to fix everything. The constraints we’ve put on ourselves are bullshit. Embrace your humanity, and stop with the labels!
Most importantly, I’ve learned through all my experiences that the only person I can count on is myself. I don’t mean that arrogantly. What I mean is that, at the end of the day, no one else but myself is going to grab me by my Walmart tank top and pull me out of a murky situation. I hate my job? It’s up to me to change it. I hate my love life? It’s up to me to learn my values and to stop dating the same kinds of man-children. I hold guilt over something I said that accidentally hurt someone’s feelings or acted in a way that I regret? F*ck you – I’m human.
Feature Image by Campbell Boulanger on Unsplash