The truthiest of all the truths is that you’re the only person who has to live with yourself. It’s all up to you to make yourself feel good and happy and fulfilled and all those gooey things we want out of life. It’s on you and you alone. There are people who will come into your life and stand beside you on this journey: your family, your friends, your loves, your random encounters, that girl from high school who still wants to keep in touch on Facebook. They can comfort you and love you and connect with you and annoy you and frustrate you and teach you all the ways you’re not showing up for yourself. They can do that and believe me, they will. But, they are not responsible for you. That’s the best and worst truth of life. That however your life ends up largely depends on how you show up for it.
I think that, if I look back on my life—the 29 year old wistfully contemplates—I see that I was waiting to be saved. I was waiting for someone to come along and prove to me I was worth loving. I was waiting to know I was enough. I was waiting to know that it was okay to be me, that I didn’t need to keep shapeshifting in whoever was going to survive in that moment. I was waiting to be worthy, for permission, that my voice was worth its use. I looked for myself in movies, television, books and sifted through them in order to find clues which would save me from myself. I subconsciously thought that if I could find a character like me who was loved, then I would be loved. I never found me, though. I was never saved. Plenty of people came along and tried to convince me of who I was, but I perceived them all as liars, people not worth listening to, their character flaws overshadowing their words.
I tried to find myself in so many places and I’ve left breadcrumbs everywhere I’ve been that detail a zigzagging path that I can call mine. I’ve escaped myself—at least, I’ve tried to—with alcohol and sex and inappropriate feelings for equally inappropriate people. I’ve left the country many times and have found my way back, searching endlessly for a home, an identity, a way to navigate myself back northward. I’ve begun businesses and failed businesses and tried to earn my self-worth through money—only to find out that is a fruitless and disastrous endeavor. I’ve many times over put my self-esteem in the hands of others for them to dictate, manipulate, and use for their own gain. I’ve let myself be dictated by what others think of me and have held myself back in an effort to be likable.
I have been more accommodating to others than I have been to myself. It’s so much easier to disappoint myself than it is to disappoint others. The amount of things I have done in the pursuit of pleasing others should be a testament that there is no glory in it. It’s the most fruitless path of all, to please others and expect that to heal you. All it does it bring you further from yourself. Believe me.
I’ve swallowed down so much anger about this world, I think that’s why my body feels heavy a lot of the time. I forget to take care of myself, because I am focused on taking care of everyone and when I mean, everyone, I literally mean, everyone. I feel responsible for this world, because I am here, in it, and I feel it is my birthright to make the world better somehow, anyhow. I’m always having to remind myself that I can’t do much if I don’t take care of myself. So I set a reminder on my phone and bring myself back to this yellow chevron-patterned cushion every morning to meditate because if my mind is sdglkjdgljdfglkjfg, I am not much help to anyone, including myself.
What I see as the common thread in my life is that I’m continuing to remind myself that this is the moment and it’s for me to create or destroy. I am no one else’s responsibility and I don’t want to be or even have the illusion that I am. I’ve realized—and this sounds so obvious it’s actually embarrassing that I’ve only now come to this conclusion—that I am the only one that has to live in my life and that means I am the last and final word on what I want or do not want inside my life, my mind, my heart, my soul, and my body. I get to choose what thoughts stay or which thoughts surface, become healed, and pass through into completion. I can purify or calcify my soul by the way in which I treat it and honor or dishonor it. I can choose forgiveness and grace and compassion and empathy and love, not only because it serves others, but because it serves me. I’m the only one in my life and so I am the only one who suffers for my pride or my stubbornness, of which I have an unfortunately hefty helping of both.
It’s my life to ruin or build. I’m the only one here. I like and loathe this truthy truth in equal measure. When I choose negativity and I clunk my feet down to settle inside of that darkness, I am the one that suffers, me and me alone. This is a powerful responsibility that I can’t believe I ever gave to anyone else. It’s like happening upon gold and realizing it has been there all along, jumping from the hands of other people like a hot potato.
This means my life is up to me, largely and powerfully. It’s the kind of knowledge that hits you over the head, but then you realize it’s so obvious, yes, this has been the missing piece all along. So, I must take this power and run with it, mold my life into something beautiful, instead of using myself against myself.
Use your power, too. You’re the only person who has to live with your choices, with your resentments and frustrations and fears and unexpressed joy and all the other unsavory parts of life. It’s all on you and I think you’re acting as though it’s other people’s responsibility or fault, but those are only borrowed truths, ones you have to give back to the owner eventually. This is all on you, which means that you can destroy your life or you can build it. It means that every happiness and joy and love and moment that feels like the sun has shone directly on you gets to belong to you, too. It means that you get to live in that life, as well, not just the dark parts, but the light parts, too. You don’t get to outsource those parts to others either, and that’s why it’s the best and worst news at exactly the same time. Because, you get both. The light and the dark. And that’s okay. That’s how it’s meant to go.