(Photo of my mother, my sister, and me at a wedding a few years back. There may or may not have been whiskey.)
“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” ~Brene Brown
Alright, guys. Let’s talk about self-worth. And your (see also: my) capacity to receive.
And how this all relates to money. And to love.
(You might want to sit down for this one.)
About 6 months before I met the man with whom I am now madly in love, I wrote a post about relationships as a spiritual practice, and then touted the importance of speaking your truth in the context of dating and romantic relating, even if doing so makes the end of a particular relationship inevitable.
I still believe all of this.
Probably even more so after a year of navigating the somewhat unfamiliar and uncomfortable waters of a serious relationship for the first time in several years.
What has surprised me, however, is just how challenging it has been to let this man care for and about me without questioning why all the damn time.
Or thinking I have to perpetually earn it.
The love, that is.
I didn’t realize how deeply I had internalized this message — that love must be earned — until I met and fell for my now boyfriend. Who loves me because I’m me. Which is not contingent upon how successful I am on any given day. Financially or otherwise.
A fact about which I have to continually remind myself.
In reality, he thinks I’m pretty great. And is largely uninterested in how much money my chosen profession generates on a weekly or monthly basis.
Or how prestigious and impressive it is.
Because, truthfully, it just doesn’t matter, you guys.
And it certainly doesn’t define my self-worth.
And also: How do we — or you, personally — define success anyway?
Again, this is a question I feel like I am constantly asking myself. And what it ultimately always comes back to is: What are my values?
Simplicity. Creativity. Freedom. Connection. Vitality. Service. Truth.
These are the things I care about. And as long as I can put food in my mouth (and in the mouth of this adorable little kitten) and (carefully thrifted) clothes on my body and maintain my physical and emotional health and explore the things that excite me — all while making a difference in people’s lives — I feel like I’m doing just fine.
Which is what this man I love has helped me to once again realize.
Today is exactly one year from the day I first met my boyfriend. And while I didn’t know it at the time, that day marked an important step in my journey towards self-acceptance.
Which is intimately connected to my ability to be vulnerable. And to trust. And to let myself be seen and adored and affirmed.
Even on the days I feel like less than my optimal self.
I entered into this relationship committed to showing up as 100% me in all circumstances. Speaking my truth at all times. Refusing to sugarcoat my imperfections and insecurities and areas that still need improvement.
And determined to never deny my true desires in the name of perpetuating the partnership.
To my credit, I have definitely honored this commitment.
The shocking twist of this whole experience has been realizing just how difficult it can be for me to step back and receive.
Love. Affection. Acceptance. I find myself pushing back against these things even as they are being freely offered on a daily basis in this relationship.
And sometimes I feel like it would be easier if this man had taken one look at my particular brand of quirky and emotional and intricate and said, No, thank you. I’m good over here on my own.
Because that? Would be my Get Out of Vulnerability Free card.
But he just keeps showing up.
And loving me.
And reminding me that my value is not defined by a bunch of arbitrary external variables and metrics.
And that the love is always there, if I can make myself vulnerable enough to receive it.
Because that’s the thing, you guys.
You can’t really feel love unless you’re open enough to let it in.
In my experience, being loved is significantly scarier than loving someone else because it requires you to let down your guard and trust in something over which you have zero control.
For a control freak like me, this is terrifying.
But ultimately, totally worth it.
So, I say we start working on our capacity to receive. Because receptivity is sexy. And it’s brave.
And so is being yourself. Even on days when you’d rather be anyone else but you.
Especially on those days.
Start here: What are your values? The answer to this question just might make all the difference.
And then: Let your people love you.
I’ll be over here doing the same. Probably with a glass of tequila in tow. Because this vulnerability shit? It’s not easy.
P.s. Watch Brene Brown (I’m a little obsessed with her work right now) talk about trust in this video. And how the way we build trust with people in our lives is by making ourselves vulnerable and being willing to ask for help. (And, yes, this is from an Oprah event. Don’t judge.)