Be kind to yourself

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

I donít know about you guys, but I am great at discounting myself. Itís one of my best talents. Iíll write a poem and erase it because itís not good enough. Iíll create a weird painting and stow it in the closet with the litter box, just to show exactly how I feel about it. Everything I do feels flawed.

Iím not talking about the kind of flaws that make you perfectly imperfect. The concept of that is nice and I see its value, but Iím not sure Iíll ever be capable of seeing myself through that lens. Itís funny, because Iím the first person to preach about how beautiful flaws are. Flaws make us human, Iíll say. Weíre all a combination of our strengths and flaws and everything in-between, Iíll continue, and isnít that what life is all about?

It sounds so sweet when I say it, and I certainly believe it when it comes to other people. I see so much beauty in my friends and family and those acquaintances who are really cool but I just canít muster up the courage to ask them to go grab some lunch and maybe run away together. Iím lucky to have the support system I do. Honestly, I feel like I have the best friends and family on the planet.

That means I shut them down when they downplay their achievements. Thereís none of that around me. Iím big on celebrating my loved ones when they do something great, and sometimes just because they exist. I donít like hearing them criticize themselves. Why do I think itís OK for me to do that around them?

A couple years ago, I went for a walk before going to dinner with friends. I ran into one of these friends during the walk. I was sweating all over, huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf just discovered Zumba. My friend asked me why I was out walking in the heat like that.

ďOh, I hate myself,Ē I half-joked.

Later that day, I sat across from her as she did her makeup for dinner. She put her compact down and locked eyes with me.

ďI think youíre beautiful, and I donít like to hear you talk about yourself like that,Ē she said.

She wasnít being critical of me. I could tell she said that out of love. I could tell it hurt her to see someone she loved insult themselves all the time. It was the first time I realized I am guilty of the very thing I encourage my loved ones not to do, and Iíve tried since then to stop doing that.

Itís not always easy. I have days where I believe I am the worst person who has ever lived, that Iím not contributing anything to the world around me. I wonder if people really do love me. I wonder if Iím worth being loved at all. But people do love me, and itís insulting for me to say they donít.

To those of you who feel you canít overcome your flaws, I hope you know I understand. Itís hard to see yourself the way other people do. Still, I believe you can try.

Then youíd see just how beautiful you are, inside and out.

ē ē ē

Samantha Jones is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. Her email address is Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com.