10 Things I’ve Discovered As I’ve Learned To Love Myself And My Life As They Are

So much has changed as I’ve grown up. Partners came and went, some friendships faded away, and life took on a form that I couldn’t have guessed. Everything is completely different than what I thought it’d be, but I absolutely love the woman I am today.

Some of my greatest heartaches have been my most significant teachers. Just when I thought that something was going to break me, it ended up teaching me a beautiful lesson. Getting my heart broken in relationships turned out to be a serious gift from the universe. The death of my grandmother a few years back wildly altered the course of my life for the better. There’s some profound wisdom in the cliche “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Breakdowns often precede breakthroughs. Similar to heartache, the times in my life where I’ve been utterly broken down are the same times that I’ve been able to pick myself up and start anew. The radical breakthroughs that have happened in my life occurred right after those moments I thought the pain from a situation was going to kill me. It was in those times I learned how utterly unbreakable the human spirit is (mine in particular). Those turning points of being a broken and scared little girl transformed me into the strong and whole woman who stands before you today.

Many of my values have been turned upside down. I thought for a long time that achievement through work and school was of the utmost importance. I thought that if I just had enough gold stars that I’d finally be good enough. Well, it turns out that there weren’t enough gold stars in the world to satisfy my need for validation. As a result of feeling insatiably unfulfilled by the world around me, I’ve flipped all my values upside down. Rather than looking outside for approval, I look inward. I see value in self-love, self-care, and being true to myself at the end of the day.

I’ve gone back to my roots with some things. Often as a little one, I felt my family forced certain things on me. For example, I thought I’d never go back to the religion of my childhood because I thought it was stupid and wrong. Here I am as an adult, attending those same services all by myself and absolutely adoring the religion. I had to come back to it on my own, though. It needed to feel like my own decision and now it’s one that makes me feel connected to my ancestors. Never would I think that I’d care about such a thing!

I’ve stopped caring so much about what other people think of me. I took many actions when I was younger to please those around me. I chose my interests so that I could fit in and so that people would like me. This stopped working as an adult. Playing the chameleon was killing my soul. I’ve since hung up the chameleon costume and instead I choose to just be myself. I choose hobbies, jobs, and friends because I want to, not because someone else told me to. It’s wildly freeing.

I have a really beautiful life. I’m true to myself, so the life I’ve built around me is beautiful. I have friends who accept me for me, hobbies that supply me with so much joy, and a job that fills me with purpose. I would have never guessed that my life would look the way that it does, but I’m damn happy about it.

I stopped depending on romantic relationships for sustenance. I used to be wildly codependent on partners. There was almost a decade when I wasn’t single for a moment. I clung to another person in an attempt to fill the emptiness I felt inside. It was a sad way of living, really, but I thought I was doomed to be that way forever. Thank goodness I broke. That pattern of living became way too painful and I started to learn other ways of being. Now I have much healthier relationships and I don’t place too many expectations on other humans.

I’ve worked through a ton of my baggage. I was the kind of teenager that your parents warned you about. I was destructive, careless, and alcoholic. I did a lot of damage that continued into college. I thought I was destined to be this mess of a person who couldn’t get anything right, but years of therapy and sobering up for good have healed me. I’ve opened up my suitcase of baggage and sorted through tons of it with trusted professionals. I’m much better and more self-aware because of the work I’ve put in.

I’m able to help so many people. I never would’ve thought that I’d be someone that others regularly come to for help. People ask me for my experience, advice, and assistance on a consistent basis. It turns out the lower you’ve been in life (and the higher you’ve bounced back), the more you can help other people. I’ve been able to use all the sh*t I’ve been through to help another person get through similar circumstances.

I’m actually a role model for my little sister. There was a time that my little sister regularly saw me in jail, intoxicated, or in some sort of trouble. I was about the furthest from a role model that an older sister could be. Now that I’m over three years sober, a college graduate, and a loving person, she looks up to me. I can never take back what happened in the past, but I now get to be that role model she never had.

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