Oscar Wilde said that “to love oneself is a beginning of a lifelong romance” and, the longer I know myself, the more I find this to be true. I’m journeying into the last few weeks of my 20’s and am objectively taking stock of the growth I’ve achieved while simultaneously acknowledging the growth still to come. In truth, after three decades of experiencing humbling and uplifting times, I am excited to turn 30 :).
I vividly remember the moment several years ago when a coworker sat back in his chair and declared that he found that life got easier once he entered his 30s, because he finally found the strength to let go of other’s standards for his life and instead focus on being himself, unapologetically. For him, this entailed a divorce and a career change – two major life changes that could certainly lead even the strongest person down the road of self-doubt. But there he sat, perfectly confident and content. He was the picture of “I don’t care what you think of me at all.” Even as he relayed this declaration of freedom to be one’s true self to a captive audience, it seemed he regarded his own words superfluous, like just talking about it was a waste of time. He had better things to do, like getting on with doing his own thing in his own way.
These few sentences shared somewhere along the workday should not have mattered, but they proved pivotal for me. His illustration of quiet confidence, stability, and self-trust, all while being this imperfect person (being that I sat next to him, I was privy to his shortcomings), showed me that you can love yourself even when you are not perfect. As a One, I like aiming for perfection but this goal kills me slowly, the finish line never crossable. It was nice to know that there was an alternative way to regard myself.
Since that conversation, I began searching for this special acceptance of which my coworker spoke, as if it were a legend I could turn into my own reality. What I found is this endeavor is more about seeing the trees in the forest, versus “seeing the forest through the trees”, as the saying goes. Yes, there’s the “forest” that is my whole life, but tending to the trees by seeking out daily rituals catered just to my liking, whomever I may be on that particular day, has made all the difference in my self-acceptance journey. When I do something that feels right with my soul, I know it instantly. I love those moments where I can see myself and say, “ah, there you are.” Because it doesn’t happen constantly, these moments get to stay special. My hope, of course, is that the more I notice when and why I feel it, the more I can pursue it. I am simultaneously creating and following a treasure map to self-acceptance.
Next week we’ll dive into some helpful methods for charting the path, see you then!