A year ago, I read a piece by Brianna Wiest entitled You Have To Want To Be With Yourself. Within it, I read these lines: “But what I was left to do in my situation is something that took me a year to put into words. I had to sit with myself. I had to be with myself. I had to want to be with myself, because running away wasn’t an option anymore.” And they hit me like warm air after countless rainy days. And that was almost a year ago. And I haven’t stopped thinking about them since. I haven’t stopped inhaling the phrase, holding it in, and blowing it out. I taste it and then I spit it on the ground. I remember it and then I forget. But we cannot forget this.
It is too crushingly important. You have to learn to sit with yourself. There are a million clichés written about this topic. We are told to love ourselves first and that no one can love us unless we do this, but when do we listen? I never did. I never really understood it, anyway. How did I have a chance to when I was too busy running away as fast as I could, tripping and stumbling and brushing myself off and getting up and running faster?
Being alone has always been one of my greatest, underlying fears. In fact, it was all consuming in extended periods of my life. I have stayed in relationships and in friendships with people simply because they were company, simply because they formed a nest I could bury myself in, a place I could use to escape from myself. It is much easier to submerge ourselves into the muddy waters of others than to wade through our own. So I drowned myself there, constantly prying open the eyes of those around me while simultaneously shutting mine.
But I needed to fall. I needed to stop the chase; and stuck floating through my rabbit hole, I forced myself to figure out these questions. Who was I? What did I want and what did I need? What reverberated my heart strings? What did I think about when I was falling asleep? What should I be praying for when I was down on one knee? I had to learn to sit with myself.
I had to learn that substances that cloud your judgment do not suffice as a proper coping mechanism. When the clouds blow through, you will be left with dark skies that you no longer know how to shine light into. You have to learn to sit with yourself; and yet you must sit with yourself first to learn this.
I had to learn that sometimes love will never be enough, especially if it’s the kind you just settle for. Especially if it’s used to complete you. You have to learn to complete yourself.
I had to learn that when we feel something, even when it is negative, even when it hurts so bad that its nauseating, strangulating, we have to allow ourselves sufficient time to feel it. We have to soak in it, relish in it. And though it always seems never-ending, through it we are becoming. We have to let ourselves not be cucumbers but little shriveled up pickles of emotions that prove that we are alive- and thriving.
You have to learn to sit with yourself.
But I realize that I am speaking in past tense here and I am not being honest with you all. I am still lying on the pavement right now. I am still trying to answer my own questions, trying to figure out happiness and its real importance to me, trying to sort through what feels like an unending mess of emotions and apprehensions and self-esteem issues. But I am trying, nonetheless. I worry that most people never do.
Young adults are consistently brainwashed by the thoughts and ideas of their parents or their TV screens or the advertisements thrown at them daily. I do not need to discuss with you our materialistic culture and its unswerving attempts to create an assembly line society, to keep our thoughts in little boxes and our attempts and intentions weak. The real issue is that some people do not even notice it. They just glide through the motions of things. Just tell themselves they’re okay. They never really sit with themselves. They never figure it out.
What a terrible, terrible way to exist. What a horrible flat line to ride. There are spikes and there are waves on our heart meters to let us know we are alive… We cannot let that die. My life changed forever when I read those words: “I had to sit with myself.” But I changed them again slightly. I told myself I had to learn. I’m telling you — you have to learn. Because it is not easy. But it’s essential. It is crucial. It is the only way you’ll ever make it through this hell on earth. Learn to sit with yourself. Learn to love yourself first. You are the only you in the world, and when you think about that… Really, think about that… That’s magical.