The more I confess my frail humanity, the louder I hear the sound of another voice rising up in me, one that has some weight behind it. It is the voice of Hope, and Hope speaks with courage and a bit of a laugh. Because when those things we most fear will happen actually happen, we have a unique window of opportunity to take inventory of the battlefield in the aftermath. We look around, blink our eyes, listen to the quiet, and think to ourselves, I am not dead. That did not kill me after all.
—  Emily P. Freeman. A Million Little Ways
While recovering from a breakup, I find it extremely empowering to do the things you stopped doing solely to please your partner. Listen to the songs you skipped when you played your music in his truck because you were afraid he’d think they weren’t “deep”, “edgy” or artistic enough. Wear the shirt you worried was too childish and not sexy enough to gain his approval. Dress according to your mood instead of dressing up like you did when you knew he was coming over. Watch tons of romantic movies to make up for all the times you suggested a romance but he looked completely disinterested and said “but what about—” and you sat through yet another fucking action movie because God forbid he feel any disappointment — a feeling you were beginning to know all too well. Be as “boring” as you want as an act of rebellion against the paranoia you endured while trying so damn hard to keep him interested and in love with you because “a Gemini needs constant mental stimulation”. Let yourself be imperfect. The right one won’t demand that you round your edges to fit into his life, whether deliberately, or unknowingly through his impatience and lack of enthusiasm. You won’t feel nervous around him. You won’t feel inadequate. You won’t feel like a burden. You won’t feel judged or inferior or small. You won’t feel like you’re suffocating under the pressure of trying to be the perfect girlfriend for him. There will be ample room for mistakes and no shortage of forgiveness. He will be so patient with you because that’s what you do when you truly love someone. You will know you’re loved. His love for you will emanate off of him; you’ll see it in his eyes and feel it deep in your core. You’ll feel seen, valued and appreciated rather than overlooked, tolerated and taken for granted. Someday, someone will truly love you, and make an effort to show you every single day. Some day your love will be reciprocated, and you’ll never worry about where you fit into his life or how he feels about you. Grieve the loss, then celebrate by taking your love back and giving it to yourself. You’ll then realize that it wasn’t actually a loss, because in the midst of your healing, you found the real You. Practice authenticity and stop giving a fuck what men think about you. Play your music, wear what makes you feel beautiful, watch what brings you joy. Step on toes, inconvenience them. You don’t live to make men comfortable. Live for you. You’ll know you’ve found the right one when if you’re truly yourself, he’ll love you even more for it and not despite it.
—  Isabella King, July 8th, 2017.

I want the appearance of my life to line up with what’s actually taking place in my heart. I want authenticity. I don’t want my life to look like it’s perfectly aligned when my heart is really torn up. I want to show the real thing, whether it’s super amazing or super messy. I’m okay with being vulnerable. I think vulnerability is of God. It allows people to see our hearts for what they are, and others relate to that so much more than someone who’s just trying to give off the vibe that they’ve got it all figured out.

Don’t let the expectations and opinions of other people affect your decisions. It’s your life, not theirs. Do what matters most to you; do what makes you feel alive and happy. Don’t let the expectations and ideas of others limit who you are. If you let others tell you who you are, you are living their reality — not yours. There is more to life than pleasing people. There is much more to life than following others’ prescribed path. There is so much more to life than what you experience right now. You need to decide who you are for yourself. Become a whole being. Adventure.
—  Roy T. Bennett

You know, finding self worth is empowering but more surprisingly, it’s calming to finally find balance with the mind, soul and body. I’ve loved to please, or I thought I did. I’ve always had the need to be liked by others; gain their approval. I think that stems from the underlining insecurity of needing someone to want me when I didn’t want myself. Learning self worth doesn’t mean telling others how great you are.. it doesn’t mean there is nothing left to improve on. It means you acknowledge what you have to give, what you deserve & value yourself enough to know that any growth that you choose, should start from a place of love for yourself, not an expectation or doubt instilled from another. You are so much more than this body, all the illness, weight and differences that burden us to feel inferior. You are a whole person on your own. You are more than your past, more than those judgmental eyes that so desperately needed to acknowledge that someone else has flaws to fixate on because looking at themselves would be too hard. You’re more than that exam that made you question your intellect, more than that person who didn’t value the authentic love you had to give, more than the secrets that haunt your quiet Thursday night… Learning self worth is something you have to keep learning. You keep learning about who you are as you change. I’ve always questioned people who have said “you can’t love someone until you love yourself”. I know that I’ve always strongly loved parts of myself, regardless of the acceptance imbalance for myself physically. I think loving someone deeply, regardless of the love returned, made me feel more whole. So, I really don’t know if I agree with people who don’t think I can really love someone without loving myself… but I can say that in learning to really love myself, I have more love to give others. In learning to listen to what I need, I can better listen and hear others. When I found self worth, I stopped looking for someone to love my flaws because I had already made my peace with them.

Start Where You Are

‘Start where you are. This is very important. Tonglen practice (and all meditation practice) is not about later, when you get it all together and you’re this person you really respect. You may be the most violent person in the world - that’s a fine place to start. That’s a very rich place to start - juicy, smelly. You might be the most depressed person in the world, the most addicted person in the world, the most jealous person in the world. You might think that there are no others on the planet who hate themselves as much as you do. All that is a good place to start.

What you do for yourself, any gesture of kindness, any gesture of gentleness, any gesture of honesty and clear seeing toward yourself, will affect how you experience the world. In fact, it will transform how you experience the world. What you do for yourself, you’re doing for others, and what you do for others, you’re doing for yourself. When you exchange yourself for others in the practice of tonglen, it becomes increasingly uncertain what is out there and what is in here.’

- Pema Chodron, Comfortable With Uncertainty.

My biggest fear is to be inauthentic. It was also my greatest desire in school. Being authentic then meant a lot of bullying and misery. Now? It’s sanity, it’s being at peace with myself.
—  I’ll die if I am ever inauthentic

In contrast to this, the inauthentic is the denial to live in accordance with one’s freedom. This can take many forms, from pretending choices are meaningless or random, through convincing oneself that some form of determinism is true, to a sort of “mimicry” where one acts as “one should.” How “one” should act is often determined by an image one has of how one such as oneself (say, a bank manager, lion tamer, prostitute, etc.) acts. This image usually corresponds to some sort of social norm, but this does not mean that all acting in accordance with social norms is inauthentic: The main point is the attitude one takes to one’s own freedom and responsibility, and the extent to which one acts in accordance with this freedom.