Sunday, September 5, 2010

In Defense of SELF

I've had close friends in my life say to me with venomous ardor that I am a condescending "elitist" and that I think I'm better than other people. Because of that, I’ve gone a good portion of my life thinking that people generally don’t like me. It's a strange feeling to have before you approach every new person in life, a feeling that you just don't fit in anywhere (and no, this isn't one of those "I don't fit in anywhere because I want to look cool," type feelings), but rather a true sense of loneliness, like you are unloved in this world. It's a pretty crappy feeling to carry around really. Truth be told, it just kinda hurts.

But instead of actually confronting these questions, I always ran to the scapegoat explanation that, “I don’t need other people. I don’t want to be reliant on external validation,” which is true, but only when it comes from a place of sincerity and not a desire to quickly cover my unanswered inadequacies with something profound I heard but didn't yet understand. You have to distinguish the differences before you can move on.

I’ve had this belief for most my life in Seattle. I don’t know where it started exactly but this is the reason why I keep wanting to leave the country. Spain was the first place where I realized that people could actually like me for who I am. It was the first place that allowed me to reinvent myself, but by then it was already too late. My identity had become defined by being critical, on separating myself from others because they were the ignorant ones, not me. It wasn't until Costa Rica that I realized all the "ignorant" people around me were enjoying their lives, while I sat in a disgruntled rut, angry with every possible thing in the world. Maybe I was the ignorant one all along.

Akey told me that this realization was a catalyst to a long journey of self-hatred and loathing before I finally learned to love myself again. For the longest time I kept wondering what it meant to love yourself and if I could finally say that I did. I just wanted that painful journey to end.

I started making myself agreeable to people. I wanted to be liked. I'd bite my critical tongue around those I didn't know, and would even nod in agreement with things I was fundamentally against. I felt sick to my stomach with disgust when the curtains closed, but hell, I was no longer being "elitist" anymore right? All I had to do was be liked by others and then I could learn to love myself, right?

No. That's what you call being a fucking tool.

Loving yourself is loving your ideals, your passions and having the conviction to stand for your beliefs despite the disapproving gaze of others. Loving yourself is a willingness to put yourself through the pain and uncertainty to explore those dark places of your inner being because you love yourself enough to make sure you are being led by the SELF, not by the ego. It is learning how to maintain a respectful dignity in your stance because you've realized that the intention behind your beliefs isn't about being right, but about the principle behind them.

If you've TRULY dived into yourself and came out with the conclusion that you're not an elitist, then you're probably not. At the end of the day, that's really the only person you need to prove it to.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Learning how to love yourself is hard work. No matter what your personality type. I totally identify with your post and know how it feels to hold my tongue to make myself more likeable but it only lasts for so long. You have to be who you are. That doesnt mean you have to be a nasty cranky guy or a crowd pleasing lampshade wearer dancing on the table at the party-- but when you can look at yourself and say I do the very best that I can to be honest with myself nad others you will find some peace in that. I am still struggling.