I started writing this entry months ago just as I was learning something new about myself. Each day that I revisited this draft, I asked myself, what is it that I want to say? I allowed myself to pour my thoughts unquestionably as though they were the last drippings of my humanity on a page fraught with helpful lessons and anecdotal stories only to later trash most of it, feeling like it was basic garbage.
Because it wasn’t until tonight that I was able to articulate the message for myself – and its pretty clear: no matter where life takes you, be yourself – don’t let outside influences stray you from your core beliefs. People will come and go. People will love you and hurt you and abandon you and that is more about them then it is about you.
*pause* exhale – really, let that sink in.
Sometimes I believe that I am a better person for having survived tragedy and heartbreak – but I’m quick to remind myself that we are all faced with hardships and I’m flawed, just like people who think they are my enemies (more on that another day). I’m not unique for having lived to wake up the next day. What makes me unique isn’t in a hardship, or a triumph. Its deeper than that. Its not in how I pick myself up or how I keep pushing. I could allow myself to be defined by my pain but I choose not to.
When I was 26 it got real. I forced my way out of a miserable place when it felt like things couldn’t get any worse, I picked myself up and moved 1400 miles to pursue my dreams.
I moved in the hottest time of the year, wrestled a truck full of cheep furniture and scrambled to put it together alone. It was scary. Facing a new life in a new state where I had no family and no friends taught me a lot about myself and perhaps even more about the world around me. Some of the lessons have been really hard, but I couldn’t be prouder of what I’ve done in these past 9 years.
So many hard things happened in the first few years I lived in Arizona that I couldn’t bear to tell you them all tonight. I met a boy who I let destroy my self esteem, suffered the loss of loved ones, graduated with a bachelor’s degree, finished law school, started a blog and a youtube channel and I found my worth. When it seemed like things were finally looking up, shit got more complicated and that continues to happen but today when things get hard, I rely on a baseline of healthy self esteem that gets me through the tough times.
Self worth isn’t something you can find in a book, or a quote – and beware of people who tell you that you can find it by losing weight, taking off your clothes, getting a boyfriend or having a child. You must search and sometimes fight for it. It is a search that requires you to look within yourself – to weed out the errors in reasoning and continually recognize them when they cross your path.
One of the best classes I took in college was the Philosophy of Logic. This class helped me sharpen my skills in determining what was valid and what wasn’t. No matter what struggles life brings you, there is always going to be something to fight against – whether it is your own demons, or the one’s that live in others, there is so much value in holding yourself accountable, discovering the ways you can be a better person and associating yourself with people who intrinsically value you [as opposed to instrumentally valuing you ie valuing what they can get from you].
I’m talking to you today after having gone through many ups and downs – and I promise, no matter what you face, you will get through it. Here are some cardinal rules that have helped me to garner self respect and ultimately self confidence. Put them to use and you’ll find an improvement in the baseline of your self esteem.
1. Trust your gut.
2. Pay attention to actions, instead of words [especially your own].
3. Be accountable and learn how to apologize.
4.If you’re anxious about something, use critical thinking to figure out whether your concern is rational before you take action on it.
5. Trust, but verify. Dating is tricky, but Reagan said one thing right 😉
6. If someone doesn’t have time for you, move on.
7. Love something about yourself [its ideal to love all of you, but even if you just love your smile this is a good place to start].
8. Express gratitude.
9. Separate yourself from people who do not treat you right [even if its a family member; I know this is hard].
10. Don’t let your looks determine ANYTHING.
11. Find a true friend, find out what makes them tick and form an alliance. Jokes aside, find someone who you can be open with, who understands you, doesn’t judge you and values you. Someone you would share your last meal with and do it as often as you can.
12. Learn to take a compliment and do not devalue it by disagreeing.
13. Be open to constructive criticism – not rudeness disguised as help.
14. Live by a code of ethics and be transparent about it.