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Putting Myself First | The Column


Lately, I’ve been in a head-space of quiet reflection and self-awareness. It might be the fact that in just over two months I will be turning twenty-four, and so the hum of ever-growing adulthood pressures is pointing out that now is a good time to shed old behaviours and mistakes.

For whatever reason, it’s beginning to dawn on me that the only way to move forward as an individual is to accept some things about myself, even if they’re not exactly pretty, and to carry those lessons with me.

THE SUPERMAN COMPLEX


The thing about me is that…it has taken me a long time to realise that you can’t, at least all on your own, save someone else. Not if they refuse your help. And if you’re spending all of your time and energy fretting over someone else’s battles, always placing yourself in the role of the ‘white knight’, charging in to save the day… chances are that you’re doing more harm than good.


Plus, you’re letting one person down for sure in this attempt, yourself.

Let me preface this by saying that, I have a generally great life. I have friends that support me, a family that nourishes me and a warm place to call home that’s filled with enough laughter, food and half-hearted Spanglish bickering to fuel a telenovela.

Yet there’s been some, well, emotional baggage in my past that I don’t think I ever gave the right attention to; finding out about a lifelong medical condition as a teenager, and a coming out that never seems fully finished thanks to some religious family members, the general community and heritage I’m tied to, to name a few.

LOOKING AFTER YOURSELF IS NOT SELFISH


Instead of ever being honest with myself about how much pain certain things brought me, I put all of my efforts into helping others around me and worrying about the hardships they were facing.


And just to clarify, having compassion and being a supportive friend is clearly not a bad thing, but ignoring your own well-being and letting yourself be used by others repeatedly certainly is.

The point that I’m making is, I suppose, that until a little while ago I didn’t even realise I had done this. I had committed this act of self-sabotage, letting my own confidence and mental health take a serious hit. I folded myself up into the smallest possible grain, so effectively that when I was finished I couldn’t even see where I’d landed.

Nowadays, after a lot of time and pondering, I can see what the logic was.


The simplicity of hiding the hurt away, and the quest to put others together the way I couldn’t for myself. Now I see that only through confronting my hurt, through owning it but not letting it become me, can I live a full life.

I refuse to shrink myself any longer, not for others and definitely not for myself, and I know now that my mind and heart deserve all the love and attention that I can possibly bestow on it.

I GUESS WHAT I'M TRYING TO SAY IS:

  • I don't ever believe that I deserve less than the compassion and attention I give to others around me.

  • Sometimes formulating boundaries is necessary, and I need to understand that I can’t necessarily fix someone else. I can help others but I cannot be the cure.

  • Honesty really is the best policy, especially when it comes to yourself.

If you would like to submit a story, anonymously or under your name, please get in touch! You can fill out the contact form on the website or email youmeandanxiety@outlook.com!​