You choose your worth. Did you know that? Man, if someone had taught me this years ago, I’d have been spared many years of heartache and wasted time. I spent a lot of time trying to make everyone else see and believe what I already felt inside. Qualified.
You see, I admit I was someone who once desperately wanted to be accepted and I tried to perfect my way into the hearts of those I love. Sounds noble, huh? Well, I am not noble. I’m just a person. And I gave myself so much unnecessary grief for this deep desire to defy mediocrity. I don’t tell you this out of sadness. I share my epiphany so that if anyone else is holding onto limiting patterns out of pride or fear, I hope I inspire you to let go of your shame and be present in your current form.
It makes me sigh deeply when I think how constricted and stressful my life was back then. Now, I think about those times when I believed someone else held the power to label me “qualified” or not, and I just smile. I don’t know exactly when the coin flipped but somewhere along the way it did. For so long, I searched and worked for approval: to be accepted in certain circles, to be loved by those with no intention of meeting me even halfway….the list could go on for far too long.
Back then, I think I thought I was progressive. If someone told me then that I wasn’t quite up to the task at hand, I dove into improvement. Don’t tell me what I can and can’t be. I can get smarter, get stronger, etc. I began to crave self improvement. And without a doubt, I began jumping the hurdles they set to show them my authenticity, my loyalty, my ability to achieve greatness. Only one problem, this race to qualification had no finish line, no resting point, no space to just look back and say that’s enough. I can rest and relax. I can enjoy my gains and be content in this very moment for as long as I see fit.
I was actually really embarrassed at first when I realized this validation I so desperately sought after was my responsibility. No one else’s. Why did I need validation from anyone but me? I knew better. I did. But I wanted to win their game so bad, I gave my all to be something I never stood a chance at being. Something I’m not. Not at my core.
The day I realized I had stolen my own power by caring what anyone else thought was the happiest and also the loneliest day of my life. I felt so free. So limitless. But I also realized that sense no one else is setting my standards anymore, I am now the only one in this race at all. This day wasn’t some magical shift. With any big realization comes a slew of feelings that can’t be tucked away once revealed. To grow, I had to accept…myself. Just as I was in that moment. I was broken. I was tired. I was angry. Rebellious. But not chaotic and reckless. Just really ready to let go of stuff I had been carrying that didn’t feel like mine.
As I often do, I turn to nature when I feel like that. Despite how much I had pushed myself to attain the unattainable, there was always one place that never made me feel any sort of strain or competition. The woods. I feel safe. I don’t have to qualify. I just get to be still and solemn. And god, it feels good. I understand why Thoreau went into the woods so often to write. Nature doesn’t compete with itself. It nourishes every part of itself. It accepts when a part of it is broken. It weaves its vines around the broken tree branches making it breathe-taking even while broken. It doesn’t cover up the animal that’s died of old age. It acknowledges that death is a part of rejuvenation. That one thing must die so that a new thing can grow from its ashes.
Sooooooo, now that all that is said….
I’m disappearing for a few days into the woods. Soon, very soon, I’m going to hit the pause button and hide for a second. I need time to once again remember why I’ve wanted to achieve so much. I want time to ask myself what I am aiming for as the year rounds out. Is it to survive? Is it to live a simple life? Is it ok to just roll with it for a bit until some normalcy starts to surface again and we can even begin to plan our own next steps? I think so. I hope so. Wish me luck. If I miss next month’s blog entry, someone come look for me. I may still be lost in the woods, just like Thoreau, writing an epic tale of disobedience to social norms. If so, just tip your hat and carry on.
Smile, Daily Feelers. You are in charge of your own destiny. You have inside you everything you need to achieve your greatest potential. It’s not anyone’s place to set your bar. Own your space, your shine, your grace. Use it to bring love to the world and peace to those that are lost. That will be all the qualification you will ever need when this life is done. I promise. That will always be enough.
JB McCann has worked in “The Biz” for almost a decade, yet she’s somehow managed to keep her feet firmly on the ground. Her altruistic spirit aims to evoke your Inner Phoenix and encourage readers to take the difficult leaps in life, so you can continue to grow.