Learning To Be Whole In Your Early 20s
*best if read while listening to Bleachers I Wanna Get Better
For a very long time I only saw myself as a half, only feeling whole in the company of others. And for a very long time I was okay with this. I believed that this was just how my life was, and I saw nothing wrong with it. I only saw what was wrong when I was alone. Without people around me, I could feel the flaw within feeling like simply a half. I felt it weigh me down, the emptiness of it. It made me feel tired, and because of it all, I cared less about myself. I compensated with being busy trying to please other people in order to maintain their presence in my life. I completely stopped putting myself first, even in the simplest of things.
Coming to the realization that I wasn’t first on my own priority list took me a very long time and led me on a very crooked path. I had gone through a few friendships and two long-term relationships - none of which filled the hollowness inside quite right. I came to the realization that what I truly needed was to find my other half within myself, rather than in someone else. I had to sit down and have a very serious conversation with myself about what I needed to do for me, no matter what that meant to others.
I broke off the relationships that were keeping me stuck and began to put more effort into the ones that propelled me forward and inspired me not to give up and see the good in myself. Slowly, I started to become better organized in my home life and took more initiative at my job. I did the things that I wanted to do, and if nobody wanted to join me I did them by myself, which was hard at first. I began taking yoga classes, aiming to connect my mind and my body. I let go of old grudges and negativity in my life as best as I could. I finally made healthier choices in my diet, spent more time with my family, and planned trips to visit good friends.
For a long time I had to push myself hard to actually do these things. At times, I got intimidated and would cling to a friend all day, but other times I felt on top of the world and I would go to restaurants and eat by myself (à la Carrie in that one episode where she had a glass of wine outside without her sunglasses on. Looks scarier than it seems!) The new lesson I’ve learned about gaining self-confidence is that sometimes you have fake it ’til you make it. Pretend you’re comfortable talking to that person you don’t know extremely well, pretend you weren’t embarrassed when you stumbled on the uneven sidewalk, and smile big when you look in the mirror. Fake it at first, if you need to, and then you’ll no longer have to. You won’t have to force a smile when you see yourself in a mirror, it will simply be a natural reaction. Love will come if you let it.
If you love yourself then you won’t need someone else to do it for you. Loving yourself will allow others to simply add to that love rather than relying on them to supply it. Becoming whole is a long process that I am far from finishing, but the simple changes I consciously make everyday bring me closer to a whole. I can feel it.
by: Abby Abrams
Artwork by Casey Meyers