Learning to love yourself and letting others love you


Recently, I flew to London to do a little work with a mental health charity. Now, I don’t know what it is about flights, but I always seem to pull up the “notes” app on my phone and begin writing in full prose without hesitation. I think when I’m so aware of my own mortality, I accept that there is no such thing as a bad idea for a piece. Suddenly, every word becomes valuable.

So…I’ll be the first to admit that I was possibly a little delirious on this flight, having been awake for in the region of 24 hours straight. It wasn’t long before random thoughts started occurring to me, and I jotted them down in my notes.

I watched the ground moving below the plane as we ascended towards to clouds. I’ve always been baffled by how slowly it feels as though planes move when you’re onboard. Yet, from the ground, planes seem to move at an incredible speed.

Apparently, I become philosophical when I’m delirious with exhaustion because the next thought to occur to me was “it’s just like life”. In life, it can be necessary for us to step back and look at things from a new perspective if we are to fully appreciate the paths that we’re carving out for ourselves in this world.

I know that both myself and a lot of my friends are guilty of looking at where we are in our chosen fields of “expertise”, and thinking “but I’ve barely progressed in the last 6 months”. It may seem from an insider’s point of view as though progress is slow, but people around us will often remark on how far we’ve come in just a short period of time.

Like everyone else, I often struggle with feeling as though I’m not good enough, never have been, and never will be. I’m just remarkably good at hiding it due to plenty of practice.

There’s this thing called Imposter Syndrome. Personally, I prefer Amanda Palmer’s term: “Fraud police”. The general gist is that you become afraid that someone will turn up at your door, say that you’re guilty of having absolutely no idea what you’re doing, and take you away. I often have this fear when people take leaps of faith in my abilities.

Here’s the thing, though; that internal narrative is a load of bullsh*t. I’m being flown to and from London because people are seeing what I’m doing and saying “she knows what she’s doing”. These people are placing a great deal of trust in me, and I’m having to shove down the fear of the fact that I’m winging it.

More than that, for the sake of my own sanity, I’m having to believe the people who tell me I’m capable and that I’m doing good work. If I continued down the path of disbelieving them, I’d find myself leading a rather miserable existence in which I achieved absolutely nothing I’ve ever dreamed of doing. And that just doesn’t sound like any fun.

And finally, I’ve recently had to try to relax enough to let people love me. I’ve been known in the past to give people lists of reasons as to why they shouldn’t like me, much less love me. This is not conducive to any sort of happiness, either for me or the people expressing love for me. The truth is, I find love and trust simultaneously terrifying and seductive. In both love and trust, there is a potential for danger, for betrayal, for heartbreak. There’s also the potential for healing, for growth, and for happiness.

As such, you enter a situation in which you must weigh up your options. Is the risk of danger, betrayal, and heartbreak worth the possibility of healing, growth, and happiness? Are you willing to make sacrifices that you may regret later in favour of finding out whether you’re heading down the path towards negativity or towards positivity?

As I get older and encounter more people, witnessing countless more personalities with each year that passes, I find myself coming to the conclusion that trust and love are quite simply a form of gambling. We are a world addicted to taking chances on each other.