Post-Thanks

Post Thanks pic

Yes it’s two days after Thanksgiving, but whatever.

Lately I have found it easier and easier to dwell upon my troubles than some of the “yay” moments. I think by nature we are used to dedicating more time to our stresses, and only allowing ourselves to feel content until the next crisis comes around. This might also explain why so many people claim that nightly news channels only report the “bad news” (a notion I disagree with, but that’s for another post).

But I choose to dwell on the things I truly give thanks for – both the good and the not-as-good – at least for this week. Saying what each person is grateful for at the Thanksgiving dinner table prior to eating was never a part of the Trudes’ annual tradition, but I figured this might be as good a time as any to revisit some areas in my life worth giving a shout-out to:

Time$

This semester, time has been a form of currency that I always seem to be in endless pursuit of. I’m always on my way somewhere or multitasking various activities at once, sadly leaving little time for extended pleasantries. I have come to the point of no longer adding “We need to hang out soon!” to the end of my sentences not because I don’t want to, but because I don’t want to leave anyone hanging (a practice more people should exercise, methinks). However, I am thankful for the time I have been given, and the moments I’ve gotten to spend philosophizing with my close friends as though no time has passed at all, as well as having those last-minute, pleasantly unexpected moments with friends I don’t get to see as often.

Schooled

It’s easy to complain about school and course expectations, but regardless, I am thankful for the knowledge I’ve gained from it. It’s been a rough semester, having predominantly writing-intensive classes on top of a writing-intensive job. But without the chaos of it all, I wouldn’t have had the chance to better understand social media as a global political tool and do more research about it on my own. I wouldn’t have been as exposed to Russian literature or ancient Japanese haikus. I wouldn’t have had the chance to think on my feet while having my thesis critiqued by various PhDs and graduate students. And I wouldn’t have come to the conclusion of being 90% sure I don’t want to go to grad school (those last two things *might* be related).

Two eyes, two ears, two legs, one heart

Likewise, it’s not hard to criticize ourselves for our physical flaws and the things that probably no one will care about at your funeral. I once read this quote (paraphrased), “I’m thankful for the fullness of my stomach, for it means I am fortunate enough to know the feeling of being full.” Rather than solely focusing on being thankful for sustenance, I am grateful for every basic physical part of myself. I have good enough vision to take in the world around me (and in HD, if I wear my glasses), the ability to hear and listen to the amazing stories of other people, two functioning legs that enable me to walk, run, and wander, knowing full well this comes as a luxury to others. I have two hands with which to serve, and a pumping heart whose beats keep in time with my fellow humans’.

Trial and Error

And lastly, as odd it sounds, I am thankful for every moment where I’ve felt hopelessly lost, rejected, or just generally confused. Had I not been confronted by some harsh realities or my own life questions, I would not be forced to think about the tough stuff. Being lost enabled me to find my way to what I most value, and experiencing rejection from one outlet or another allowed for other incredible opportunities to come my direction.

Know Thyself. Love Thyself?

Know Thyself Love Thyself pic

I follow a series of motivational Instagram accounts – some of them “fitsporational” and some spiritually/philosophically motivating. It sounds silly, but I guess you might consider this my version of sticking Post-It notes to my mirror every day.

Some of my favorite ones that I have saved include…

– “If the whole world was blind, how many people would you impress?”

– “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

– “Is ‘fat’ really the worst things a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive,’ ‘jealous,’ ‘shallow,’ ‘vain,’ ‘boring,’ or ‘cruel’?”

You know, nice little inspirational messages. But multiple times have I come across this classic line: “No one is going to love you if you don’t learn to love yourself.”

I’m sorry, what?

The whole “No one will ever love you until you learn to love yourself” line of thinking is – for lack of better word – complete and utter crap. It’s a completely idealistic concept, because who really loves themselves all the time? Confidence is one thing, but frankly I get tired of being around people who take on the air of never making a mistake. #flawless? Please. All the best people I know are flawed in one way or another.

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a guy (yes, I suppose it must have been THAT kind of “talking,” whatever that means exactly). The discourse ended rather abruptly when he said something along the lines of not really being interested in friendships or other relationships with people who aren’t confident in themselves, and sharing that confidence with the world! The abrupt end, I should mention, was on my part.

Yeah yeah, you can tell me that I was/am easily offended, if that comment is what set me off, but I stand my ground.

I’ll be candid. I don’t love myself. I’ve always dislike my nose, I can never fully enjoy dessert because of those last tricky pounds I’m always battling, and I would love to be one of those girls who manages NOT to look like Gollum without any makeup. Haha. Moving from the exterior, it takes ages for me to open up to anyone, and if I ever do, there’s this lingering fear that the other party won’t react positively. ButI won’t pretend to be something the world tells me I should be.

I’ll stop there, because the point is, I might never come close to the point of loving myself, and it’s not fair that that should be the criteria for someone else being “allowed” to love you. Aren’t the people who lack the most [self] love the ones in greatest need of it?

Also, it’s really rather selfish to mandate that someone love themselves first. What’s the point of that? Are we so afraid of even entertaining the possibility of having to put more “work” into the relationship (or whatever you want to label it) because the other party isn’t used to receiving love anything past what they think they deserve (Perks of Being a Wallflower, anyone?)?

I came across this wonderful article from the Thought Catalogue, called “What It’s Like To Be In Love When You Have Depression.” But you don’t have to be depressed (or have been depressed at one point) to relate. You can even replace the words “depressed” or “mental illness” with “insecurity.” Here are some of my favorite tidbits:

“Never let anyone tell you that you are not worth being loved if you don’t love yourself. Never let anyone tell you that your mental illness is the reason why you are not in a relationship. Never let anyone tell you that you should smile more, fix your hair, or wear more color. Never let anyone makes you feel bad about what you can’t always control.”

Though it may be with good intent that someone pats your shoulder while saying, “Oh honey, you gotta love yourself first if you ever want to be loved,” the statement in itself is a sort of paradox. A cruel, nonsensical paradox.

I don’t want to love myself because of this notion that that’s the only way I can garner others’ affection. I want to love myself so that I won’t need anyone to.