i took this picture at the Cambridge, MA location of the restaurant and general awesome place “The Friendly Toast” in summer 2013.
so this is a rough place to start. to be honest, i don’t know that i’ve ever actually admitted it. but you’ve got to start somewhere and here seems as good a place as ever, so the buck is definitely stopping. what’s the revelation, you ask?
it’s a real thing.
for a long time, i would say that i wasn’t looking to be validated. that a subtle, peripheral respect would do. that my self-worth did not rely on the acceptance or approval of others. what i was really saying, every single time i denied that need, was that it did matter and it made me angry and sad when i was rejected, disapproved of, condescended to, lied to, disrespected, and so on and so forth. and even though i could see that most mean, miserable things other people did or said were at the core of their own need for validation and light, i couldn’t feel it. not really. so i lied. and i let the light go dark.
there is only so long, friend, that that light can go on keeping dark. and when you keep the light hushed down, like a cold, slate gray veil over something warm, it creates weight and cracks. and then it grows.
it was only once i realized that there was something underneath the pain, under the drying, splintering clay, that i even recognized the weight of carrying other peoples projection. that pain is like a cocoon. it feels uncomfortable at first, but you get used to it, and then you need it; you feel naked without it. taking it off is vulnerability.
the irony in all this is that validation (and not fake, cloying validation, but honest, real, namaste kind of stuff) is like a salve for vulnerability. it’s like a healing rinse, washing away the clay, softening it, removing the veil. and in discovering this, taking off that weight, there is suddenly light! now this is not to say that the simple recognition that i needed to be acknowledged, valued, was an apex moment of clarity – never a darkened star to be seen again! i have my moments. we all do. darkness is learned, and it permeates. Rome wasn’t built in a day and, let’s be real people, neither was good self-esteem.
what struck me most in recognizing this – and i mean recognizing in the truest sense, realizing i knew it, intimately, and was suddenly staring it in the face – was that i also realized i didn’t actually need it. it is just really nice to have. every day that i’m alive, every day that i make, that i do, that i exist, that i create (even if it’s just breath and space), i am validating myself. i am what i need. and in the moments that i see that and feel it, those are the times when the light shines. the veil comes off. and everything i ever thought i needed from somebody else i am suddenly capable of experiencing because i can give it to others. i can see their dark spots, their crust, and i can offer a little salve.
sometimes we are mean to one another. when you’re in the cocoon, the first reaction is to keep others in theirs. so keep that in mind when teeth are gnashing. it’s not your job to fight back, or fight it off, down, or away. it’s all of our jobs not to keep giving people permission to invalidate themselves or anyone else. and that, ya’ll, is why the buck really must stop here.
you and me, we got this; clay, light, and all.
a little context:
this all really came home to me the other day. if you haven’t met So Worth Loving, they are an amazing group started by Eryn Eddy Erickson to spread the message of self worth, positivity, and human value through the concept of “love you. love people”. they have a radical blog, twitter, and instagram, and because i’m an insta-fiend, that’s where i get my daily dose of them. recently, SWL had a instagram post of a neon SWL symbol with the following quotation underneath:
You can be the most beautiful person in the world and everybody sees light and rainbows when they look at you, but if you yourself don’t know it, all of that doesn’t even matter. Every second that you spend on doubting your worth, every moment that you use to criticize yourself, is a second of your life wasted, is a moment of your life thrown away. It’s not like you have forever, so don’t waste any of your seconds, don’t throw even one of your moments away.” ~C. JoyBell C.
to give credit where it is due, Hannah Brencher, an amazing blogger, writer, and world-changer, exposed me to SWL, but i’ll introduce you to her another day. 🙂
i share this because when i look, i see light against the dark stars. there are a million different ways we can reveal light AND actually see it, know it, and feel it in and around us. and light – yeah – light permeates, too.