I never really noticed that I had to decide
to play someone’s game, or live my own life.
—Lana Del Rey, “Get Free”
My favorite memory from this year happened when no one was around. It was when I was alone, in the bathtub, sobbing and eating an ice cream sandwich. (This moment of self-pity was eventually interrupted by my own laughter. I realized there should be a picture of me in the dictionary, right next to the word “self-indulgent”.)
I have always been in on the joke that is me. (Something a guy didn’t realize, two years ago, when he said, “I used to think you were a joke…” I’ll never forget how he went speechless in light of how easily I accepted his insult, “I am a joke.”) This has always been my game: Insults don’t work if you’ve already accepted their subject matter as a part of your personality.
I know what my faults are.
You won’t find me, wasting any breath, trying to dispute them—at least not anymore.
This year, I became more wholly accepting of myself. I internalized notions that I’ve understood ever since I was a teenager, but had yet to accept as a true part of who I was.
In high school, I had a counselor who deemed me a perfectionist, and—at the time—I thought her diagnosis was all wrong. I thought: I let yogurt mold in my room, I don’t like to brush my hair, I view showering as a major event, and my nail polish is chipped more often than not… When I expressed these sentiments to her, she said, “That’s not the kind of perfectionism I’m talking about.” Eventually, I’d learn what she meant: That I need to be constantly working for approval in order to feel worthy of life. That I can’t allow myself to just EXIST.
I guess the point I’m getting at is—2017 was the year I totally accepted every part of myself, good and bad. To a point where I can recognize that I’m not perfect, and still view myself as a person worthy of respect and love.
Like, yes. I am the girl who got drunk and told a Trump supporter to fuck off, and then fell out of her shoes. But I am also the girl who toiled over card stock, with an array of gel pens and sharpies spread around her. Who cut out hearts, and wrote down inside jokes, just to make a heartbroken friend smile for two seconds.
(I don’t say this to glorify myself, or to say that one good deed undoes all the times a person has fucked up. But to emphasize that one bad deed doesn’t undo all the good deeds either. And, if I’m being entirely honest, I don’t regret getting drunk and falling out of my shoes. Or telling this particular individual to fuck off. Which is a new level of self-acceptance that I can’t totally articulate, but feels positively liberating.)
Furthermore, with this new feeling of wholeness: I’ve become repulsed by the men who don’t respect me, and I find anyone who ridicules how I live my life boring.
Maybe this is narcissistic.
But the point of the matter is, I don’t care if it’s narcissistic.
I’ve realized, when you decide to live authentically—when you make it a goal—life feels, almost instantly, better.
It becomes easier to trust yourself.
I have finally internalized the notion that, all these years I’ve spent idealizing people who called me crazy, claimed I meant nothing to them, and refused to tell the truth about who I was, was really a testament to the depth of my own imagination, and internal makings, than it ever was to their superiority or power over me.
And I wish I could transplant this newfound self-worth into every girl and woman I know; not to make them more like me, but to make them more wholly themselves.
Having been trained to view our individual needs as secondary, irrelevant, trite, vain, and somehow—always—“wrong”, I think it’s really brave for any girl or woman to say: This just doesn’t work for me.
Therefore, my hope for the New Year—for myself and anyone else who struggles to do it too—is to keep saying no to things that don’t feel right, in spite of what anyone else says or thinks.
Happy New Year.
Go get drunk and fall out of your shoes.