Everyone tells you that life is about progress.
They tell you that you will always be, in some way, unfinished. People, after all, are imperfect. And trying to smooth over every single one of your fault lines and slip ups is missing the point entirely.
And yet there still exists another force stronger than logic: discomfort.
Your brain is always scanning for the next thing you need to fix. You achieve one thing and it’s a contact high for no more than 5 hours until you’re onto worrying about what you can do next.
You worry about things the world at once tells you don’t matter, yet also seem to reward heavily. There seems to be a consensus among people about what’s good and bad and what makes you worthy and not.
So you worry about money even when you have enough. You worry about how you look even though you know you look fine. You worry about whether or not other people think you’ve succeeded, even though you know that they do and even if they didn’t, it wouldn’t change anything anyway.
You romanticize your past, and tense up over what you should have done differently, had you known better. You think about what’s next, and plan and strategize how you’re going to be better, how your future perfect life will evoke the envy and awe of everyone who ever left you or doubted you or rejected you.
You work yourself to the point of exhaustion even though you often feel like you’re running in circles, and though you’re better than you’ve ever been, it is still, somehow, never enough.
And this is why:
You probably grew up with someone who made you work for love.
You probably began your life believing that love is something you have to earn, and so earn it you must. Because when your first relationships are conditional in this way, you begin to associate “being perfect” with “surviving.”
No wonder you are so stressed.
When you’re never quite sure what will get you in trouble or make you get yelled at or disengage the people you love most, you learn to live your life on your toes. You learn to reduce yourself in every way possible, to be the smallest, quietest, most basic and compliant version of yourself.
Your idea of “success” is based around whatever you heard these people praising, and admiring.
Your idea of “making it” is whatever you subconsciously packed away as “the thing that makes people loved.” And when you get one of those things — and discover you feel no better, no more appreciated or cared for than before — you panic.
Because when you grow up believing love is conditional, the fault is always yours. The issue isn’t that some people are incapable of loving you wholly and as deeply as you deserve, but that you are not yet perfect enough to have unlocked this magic key that finally gets you what you need.
What you maybe have yet to realize is that you’ve spent the entirety of your life on the other side of having what it is you really want and need… and no matter how far you run or how close you get, you’re never quite there. Love, to you, is transactional. It’s something that’s given when you’re beautiful enough, thin enough, nice enough, pretty enough, admired enough, successful enough.
The reason why you’re so hard on yourself isn’t that you hate yourself. It’s that you love yourself so much you’re trying to parent yourself into doing whatever it takes to get what you really want, which is connection. What you do not yet realize is that this is not the answer.
Your fault is in thinking that your discomfort is trying to push you to be better. What you do not realize is that your discomfort is trying to tell you that this is not the way you get what you need.
Because what you’re going to have to wake up and realize is that working on yourself is important. Becoming more self-aware and successful and financially independent and healthy and happy is part of your life’s work. You must do it. It will make everything better.
And yet it will not be the reason why you are loved.
You cannot manipulate the amount of love someone is capable of giving you. Your success won’t do it. Your beauty won’t do it. Nothing will make you loved but deeply connecting with those you “click” with. Spending time with people who appreciate you and want you around whether or not you’re on top of the world or at rock bottom.
You can be the most ambitious person in the world, and yet the degree to which you are loved will be wholly unaffected by it.
You do not have to work for real love. It’s given freely, and without reason or condition.
You only have to get out of your own way and start investing in the people who want to be with you, irregardless of your status or appearances or anything else you think will finally make you happy.
You are not a broken person. You are not incomplete because you are so deeply flawed you’re unfixable. You only have a false belief about what it takes to be loved, and what it will feel like to feel alive. That’s all.