We are always faced with the questions of who we are and why we are here. Some of us have given up on those questions with the result that there is no answer, and to an extent, they are right.
I’m reminded of a time I was working as a server. I was joking in the hallway with two of my coworkers, telling them about a time when I brought a couple some waters in my sweaty overworked exhaustion even after they had tipped me because it was important for me to prove that I provided good service because I’m a good person, not because I was motivated by money. The couple left their waters for me to dump anyway. After telling this story, one of my coworkers turned to me without missing a beat and said “you don’t need to convince anyone that you’re a good person.” As someone who has spent many years trying to do just that, this stopped me dead in my tracks.
If I am not to convince others that I am a good person, what am I to convince them? That I’m smart? Attractive? Well put together? Who am I trying to be, and more importantly, am I succeeding?
I am also reminded of the most obnoxious overused quote in the history of ever, which is along the lines of, “You cannot love another until you have learned to love yourself.” What a crock of crap. I get what whoever came up with this awful phrase was trying to accomplish – they wanted you to avoid overexerting yourself at the expense of another. This quote is so damaging though. When unpacked completely, its implication is that when you are at your lowest, most vulnerable, stewing in a vat of self-loathing, you are also unable to experience the most valued of human emotions towards another. I really want to slap whoever spouted this nonsense into next Tuesday, I swear. You absolutely can love someone else when you find yourself repulsing. In fact, it probably helps for you to love another when you lack the ability to shine that light inward. When used in the context of relationships, if anything, it should be, you cannot build with/survive another human soul until you have learned to manage and build your own.
Love is something different. Don’t ever believe that you lack the ability to love because you are at war with your inner demons.
Granted, there exists a kind of love or caring that stems from selfishness. Desperation and deprivation blind us to the actual qualities a person has to offer and instead lends itself to a fabrication of what we need that person to be. These are phases of life that lead to awakenings. We cannot force another to be what we need. We can only nourish our own needs and appreciate others for who they are. Not who they were, or who they could be, who they are right now.
All that being said, you are not your thoughts or emotions. You are not your fits of rage, your desperation, your addictions or vices, your medications, your pain or sorrow. You are not your physical impairments, your social status, your salary, or your education level. You are not your heartbreak, your “mistakes” or your “accomplishments”. You are not even the things that you convince yourself you are or the things you let other people convince you that you are. When there is a natural disaster somewhere in the world, you don’t see anyone on the news saying that the Earth no longer deserves to exist. So why, when we experience our own natural disasters, do we convince ourselves this myth is fact?
Sure, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. There’s probably a tunnel after that though. There will be many times that we are in darkness searching for the light. But it is not the light that we need – it’s the search.
We are our senses of humor and our patience in moments of difficulty. We are the small voice inside that roots against all odds to overcome our pain. We are friends, children, parents, siblings, lovers. We place a hand to our chest and feel something, with or without a reason why, we feel something. With or without a purpose, we are here, and that is enough.
We are a single moment in the timeline of the universe. And we don’t have to convince anyone that we are a good person.