It is almost serendipitous that what finally gives me the words to finish Part Two is another period of heartbreak triggered by man I didn’t even love.
“Heartbreak has continued to be the bearer of epiphanies in my life; both wanted and detested”
I’ve come to realise that it’s not the person per-say, but more how they make potential seem like a possibility until it’s not. Suddenly you’re alone again trying to stuff the threads of lingering dream back deep inside of yourself. You curse your optimism and hopefulness and you wish you had built your walls higher but you also acknowledge that if you do that then maybe no one will ever get in. It’s hard. It’s frustrating. It sucks. But perhaps the details of that are for another story.
Heartbreak has continued to be the bearer of epiphanies in my life; both wanted and detested. This particular epiphany has been a few months in the making, but had been lacking some sort of quality that only despair brings.
The reality is that the journey to living for oneself; fully and wholeheartedly, is both everlasting and virtually impossible. If your aim has been to do so 24 hours per day, seven days per week then you are inevitably setting yourself up for disappointment. That is the first lesson. Accept that you have very little control over anything. There will be challenges that you cannot prevent and that you cannot expect or prepare for. They will trip you up and make you fall flat on your face. The kind of fall where your brain does not coordinate with your arms or legs. Instead of your arms reaching out to break your fall and your legs buckling to reduce impact, they’re all hanging somewhere in the background causing you to look like a plank that just dropped sideways from a vertical position and now you are literally horizontal and your face has been the only cushioning to this completely unanticipated event. Let me tell you right now, that your face is not anatomically designed to take that kind of impact. Making the decision to live for yourself, does not mean there will no longer be challenges and life will be easy. It’s really about equipping yourself with little things (such as increased grip on your shoes or a body suit) that together leave a lasting impression, and ideally that impression is not the one left on your face and instead results in a stumble rather then a quite frankly, embarrassing fall.
One of the ways to equip yourself on this journey has already been touched on in Part One, and that really is to check yourself. The doorway to living for yourself is fraught with confronting realisations, often about you. You have to be willing to identify your own bad behaviour, which is generally not your fault, but you are an adult now and it’s time to take some responsibility. Let’s be honest, if you take time to reflect and you think about scenarios that keeps happening to you, you have to realise that YOU are the common denominator. So where are you contributing to these similar outcomes and how can you develop yourself to create your own alternate reality? Be open to adjusting. Be open to growth. Acknowledge that this shit is hard and it is tiring. But you can rest in between. You won’t ever be finished I can assure you, but if you start addressing these difficulties now then they’re not going to compound and hit you all as one later, you’ll also be removing barriers to all the potential that you can be. I thought we were trying to be our best selves out here?
“it’s self-care, even when you don’t want to”
There are other ways to equip yourself too, but these vary, and they vary between individuals. What works for you may not work for someone else. What resonates with one person, may become imperative to you later in life. What is relevant to you now may become relevant again in five years time. You may be doing something right now, that you have unintentionally been giving to yourself for a number of years. Acknowledge and celebrate that, then become more intentional about whatever practice it is. This is not a one stop shop, these are things that have been very relevant to myself as a cis-het (still contemplating this one), single, almost-30 yo female with indigenous ancestry, who has recently wrapped up her first ever hoe phase (sexually liberating but also traumatic); they will change – because the only real constant is transience.
- It’s no longer postponing your own happiness
- It’s doing things that bring you joy or wonder or simply, fulfils a curiosity
- It’s identifying what you value and staying true to these, even when others (particular men) make you feel guilty for them
- It’s keeping your standards high but expectations low
- It’s meeting people that completely top your standards and make you realise that they are not only reasonable but also how badly you have been settling right up until this point (and that is something you continue to work on)
- It’s confronting your own toxic behaviours, some of which have been and continue to be reinforced by society
- But it’s also recognising how you contribute to the machinists of that same society
- It looks like honesty with yourself
- It’s being okay being lonely whilst also knowing it absolutely suck
- It’s times where your heart stutters and you feel almost panicky at the prospect of being alone for much longer, but holding on to the memory and feeling of being lonely even when someone was physically there
- It’s unlearning instinctive, but unhealthy attachments
- It’s making mistakes and forgiving yourself for making these
- It’s the craving of a deep, intimate connection, but adapting to have the needs associated with that fulfilled by multiple other sources
- It’s committing to maintaining the connections you’ve created with others even when that deep, intimate connection dose occur
- It looks like nurturing support networks with people where there is transparency and a mutual energy exchange
- It’s cutting, blocking or quietly disengaging with people who no longer serve you or your purpose
- It’s limiting other people’s access to you
- It’s realising that you are a nuanced, non-linear, multifaceted being
- It’s not allowing other people’s perceptions and expectations to limit you
- It’s learning about boundaries
- It’s realising that boundaries not only exist between yourself and others but also in the relationship you have with yourself
- It’s identifying where your boundaries are porous and setting and maintaining new ones
- It’s allowing your emotions space, but not allowing them to dominate or dictate
- It’s self care even when you don’t want to
- Self-care which is not just pampering yourself, but it’s making yourself go for a walk, it’s making yourself drink 2L of water over the day, it might look like dedicating time to working on your passions, it might look like allowing yourself rest, it might be putting yourself in the shower and changing your clothes even if you’re going back to bed afterwards
- It’s nourishing your body, at times with whatever is available or whatever you crave, and at other times, it’s ensuring you’re having an adequate intake of vegetables, protein and other things you should probably know but it’s not in your priorities to know right now
- It is evolution and growth and learning
“Living for yourself; fully and wholeheartedly, is a lifelong process. It is a choice you have to actively make every single day”
Living for yourself; fully and whole-heartedly, is a lifelong process. It is a choice you have to actively make every single day we can. It is realising that there are peaks and troughs. That when you are in the trough and you feel like you have hit square one again, all these little things you have been doing will help you bounce back to where you were before and even faster than the last time. That when things seem stagnant, you are still on an overall upwards trajectory to transcendence. The line is non-linear and it is complex. But so are you. You may not see it until the end, but surely if you take the time to reflect, you’ll realise how far you have come from that first square.
Ultimately, you will not always be able to live for yourself; there will always be challenges, there will be times where you do not have the capacity, and there will be times when you will be putting others first. But the best and only way to fully and whole heartedly live for yourself, is a commitment to always try. To as often as possible, try your best to prioritise the most important thing in your life; and that is you.