I don’t know if it’s an age thing or what happens when you truly start to value yourself, but for some reason, you just stop tolerating bullshit as you grow up. You stop trying to force things that are harder than they should be. You stop being okay with accepting less than you deserve and you avoid people who drain you.
If you reach a point where you reject anything you have to force or anyone who diminishes your self-worth, then you’ve officially matured and learned that anything forced will always be temporary and anyone who diminishes your self-worth will never be the person who brings out the best in you.
I’ve always been known for being ‘too nice’ or ‘too sweet’ or ‘too kind’ and I think it’s because I was always trying to fill the void inside me with the noise of others because I couldn’t stand the silence, I couldn’t stand the emptiness, I didn’t love my own voice. I was always the person who would try again and again until I get what I want, or be too forgiving and too accommodating to keep people in my life or just try to make peace with people who hurt me so I can always be known as the bigger person.
I always wanted things to go right. I was always afraid of losing. Losing friends, losing exes, losing family members, losing colleagues or losing anything really. I associated losing with failure, especially losing people, I thought that it said something about me, that I’m unloved or that I’m easily forgotten and I would do anything to avoid that feeling because it was my biggest fear. I always wanted to be loved. I always wanted to be remembered.
Until I realized that holding on to certain people out of fear hurts even more than losing them. Holding on to people who don’t love you or respect you just so you can feel loved is the perfect recipe for self-destruction.
And that’s when I learned the power and beauty of letting go, that’s when I learned that it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality, that’s when I learned that it doesn’t matter who loves because what matters is how much you’re loved and what kind of love you’re receiving; if it’s genuine, if it’s real and if it makes you a better person.
In my case, it was the opposite, a lot of people who supposedly loved me were the ones who slowly made me unlove myself because I used to put them first, listen to their words over mine, trust their vision more than mine and see myself through their eyes and it made me feel ugly. It made me feel like I’m a thousand different characters and it made me lose any self-respect or self-love I had for myself.
When I started listening to myself, putting myself first, saying no and believing in myself, it caused an upheaval in my inner circle because I was always the one who glued everything together and now I’m the one tearing everything apart. They didn’t like it. They didn’t like losing. They didn’t like being in the position I’ve always unabashedly put myself in.
And that’s what happens when your self-respect finds its way back to you, you reject anything forced, you reject anyone manipulative, you reject anyone abusive and you magically find the strength within you to just walk away from the people you once thought you couldn’t live without.
So you start losing people, but in this case, it’s a win-win situation because, on the flip side, you attract people who respect you and appreciate you and see you with new eyes that open yours. You start seeing yourself in a new light, you start seeing life in a new light. You get out of the darkness and you start realizing that sometimes the people who were sheltering you from the storm were only preventing you from seeing the rainbow.
Rania Naim is a poet and author of the new book All The Words I Should Have Said, available here.