what does it feel like to lose yourself? and what do you do if you’ve already lost yourself?
two questions that have come up way too often in my life for the past few years. especially in the past year.
as someone who felt like she was completely lost of herself, and has somehow made her way back- i can tell you that its possible.
im going to tell you guys the story of a girl who has learned who she was- all in the past year. but first let me rewind a little. let me tell you what made me get to this point. i recently (thanks to one of my best friends) found out that i was a type 6 enneagram type of person. and as i was listening to a podcast talking about people who are type sixes- all these things came flooding into my brain. and when i say things-i mean a lot of thoughts floating around in my head. one of the main things that make up someone who is a type 6 is being loyal, and being scared ( like very scared). remember that. loyal and scared. if there were two words to describe me- those are the perfect ones. i often get confused to be someone pessimistic when in reality- i’m trying to think of all the possible worst case scenarios so that i can enjoy the situation, friendship, relationship, time in my life that i’m in. so that i can love these people or situations without any reservations. so that i get them out of the way. the thing is- usually you would think that these worst case scenarios don’t happen. usually they don’t, right? well in my case- they unfortunately sometimes have. and what has that resulted in? in me being more scared that i was before. as someone who craves and thrives in stability- my life has been everything but stable. i don’t realize it- and i didn’t realize it very much until i moved out of my house, until i moved to new york. i didn’t really get it until i talked to other people who have actually had stability in their lives. and although i’m proud of the way i’ve treated others and loved those who have come in and out of my life- it made me feel so incomplete. how can you love someone like that, and they still walk out on you? how do you promise someone that you’re always going to be in each others lives only to in the end leave them all alone?
i wish i could honestly understand how to do that- because to this day its not something i can bring myself to do. i once had someone tell me that they loved the way i made them feel, they loved the way i made them feel more loved than anyone else ever had- but they still couldn’t stay. so if you’ve ever been told something like that, i’m sure you know how heart-wrenching that feels. it makes you feel like you should never love anyone ever again. but then again- you want to. at least i do. i can try to make myself think that i don’t, but at the end of the day, who doesn’t want that? although, i think after that i became more scared than i ever had before. the way i felt about myself and about anyone who tried to get close to me is not a way i ever want to feel again.
i feel like a lot of people paint your early 20’s as if they’re supposed to be great. but at least for me, they have been the worst and most confusing part of my life. i can even go as far as saying that other than the past year- everything else was crap. and if you’re a close friend of mines- i’m sure you’ve seen how true thats been for me. in a time where everyone around you is also trying to navigate their feelings and lives, and who are also trying to figure out who they are- it makes sense that no one your age can even help you.
i truly think that this is the most comfortable i’ve ever been in my life. and as unfortunate as this must be for some people to hear- its because i’m far away from them. like i said before- being stable is important for me to be okay. and after hearing so many accurate things about my personality- it just makes so much sense. it makes an extreme amount of sense that i have just now in the past year learned to be my actual self. without all the external things. without all the “living up to my potential”. without all the settling for less than i wanted. there was so many things i was doing- but i wasn’t even sure who or what i was doing them for. the only thing i felt extremely sure of was moving away. and when i was met with quite a surprising bit of disappointment- i knew that it had been the right choice. i think that was the first step i took into finding myself now that i look back. the way that others around you react to you doing something good for yourself- says a lot about what kind of people they are. it says a lot about what they want for you. the last few weeks towards moving here, and even the next few months after moving here- showed me who actually had my best interest in mind. and it showed me who just kept me around because i was good at doing things for them. it was a huge wake up call. its one of the things that helped me come to the pretty fierce conclusion that i had to choose better from now on. that even if it hurt- i really had to choose better. for me. for my own stability. and also so that i was sure i was letting people in who would essentially help us bring out the best in eachother.
so yes- moving here was scary. sometimes i cried out of missing people. sometimes i cried out of relief for finally being away from a place that caused me a lot of hurt. sometimes i cried because i didn’t know anyone and i felt like i was completely alone. but even then, it was a relief to be alone rather than half-loved. it was a relief to be alone with my thoughts for the first time. something that seemed so scary for so long. something that i avoided constantly. i was finally face to face with all the things that were hurting me. i was finally face to face with all the things i wanted to change. and for the very first time-i didn’t see those things in a negative light. i saw them as a way to finally help myself become who i wanted to be. i couldn’t get myself to be that person when i lived back home, because every time i tried i was faced with a lot of judgment and that of course- made me scared. i come from a place where changing isn’t seen as a good thing. its hard to grow into the person you want to be. so when i moved, i felt free from all that judgment. i realized i had felt forced to remain a certain way simply because changing would cause me pain back then. everyone around me knew i was sad but no one ever really asked why. i had to work through a lot of those things internally so that no one else would feel burdened by it. i even became good at it. crying all the way to some kind of event or a friends house or on my way home from work. so that i could hide it well once i got wherever i got to. i became really good at it. so when my friends ask me how i feel now, very randomly at times- my initial reflex is to say yes, okay im okay. the other day i was talking to a good friend of mines and was telling her about something going on, and she asked me: ” what can i do to make it better?”. i got home and i felt like crying a bit. but happy crying. because no one had asked me that in a really long time. everyone usually has their own agenda and i get it- i’ve been there. but to be asked that is really really beautiful. i think thats true sacrifice for someone else. i have selflessly loved many people in my life- who didn’t love me the same way back. who i would’ve loved to hear that from. there are times when thats all i would’ve ever wanted to be asked. i realized in the past year that all i had wanted for the longest time is for the people i loved to not become the worst case scenarios in my head. i don’t want the worst case scenarios in my head. i don’t want them to be real. lately i’ve realized that what i want is for the people i love to be stable. i want the best case scenarios. i don’t want to hear any more i love you but I have to go(s). and so far- it seems like all those things are happening. it seems like the people i have are here to stay. and while this doesn’t mean im not entirely scared ( because i still am)- i’ve also learned to like myself a lot more. i know i’ve probably said this before- but truly liking yourself changes everything. it makes you face yourself and finally demand more because this time you know that you’re worth it. i always knew that i didn’t like myself very much since i was younger, but i didn’t truly realize it until i came here. it was really hard for me to believe the good things my friends would say about me. now i believe them more. i think this is something i will always have to work on- but i feel infinitely better now. i like myself. and thats a pretty big statement coming from me. but that also makes it easier to enjoy my own company. to enjoy being by myself. because the things and the people i have right now might just one day be gone- and at the end of the day what i’m going to have, who i’m going to be with is my very self. and i have to be okay with that.
i have a lot to give. and i have a lot to love. i have a lot to be proud of. its taken me a long 24 years to get here. and although sometimes i want to be looked at in a beautiful way by someone who will really love and stay by my side just like everyone around me seems to have- i’m no longer willing to sacrifice my own sanity just for someone to look at me in a pretty way and hold my hand. i deserve much much more than that. it took me 24 years to take that back. so im not sure i can give that part of me to just anything or anyone again unless its real. unless they bring more to my life than i had to begin with. unless they help me be an even better version of myself.
there’s this song that i can’t get out of my head lately that says ” i will love you without a single string attached.” this line always rings so true in my head. to love someone without wanting to change anything about them. and i think that describes exactly what i would want in someone else. if its not like that, it would be hard for me to risk myself like that.
the past year has been like big welcoming into myself again. i find myself enjoying things i used to when i was in high school. like reading and thrifting and singing and just going for drives. such mundane things. but they’re so important. its been a big breath of relief. i think especially after being hit with a pandemic. it helped me slow down for the first time in a long time. it helped me get real with my feelings. it helped me get over certain feeling or things i thought id gotten over a long time ago, but then realized i actually hadn’t. i’ve learned to let myself feel what i feel. and then i get past these hard moments so much faster than before. and in a healthier way. im not really sure about anything thats going to happen from now on. but i am sure that i can handle it.
i realized after hearing what im pretty much made of- that every single one of my favorite movies has a sad ending. the ones where they never end up together. and i realized thats because thats the most realistic ending to me.
500 days of summer, one day, us and them, little women (jo and laurie have my whole heart) and even gilmore girls (i’m still in love with jess- to this day). oh and this is us. every single one. and its because those worst case scenarios are so real to me. so i feel understood when i watch my favorite movies. thats why i know every rejection speech to the t. the one where jo rejects laurie and where rory rejects jess and doesnt go to new york with him.
i used to go to the movie theatre by myself before (pre covid ugh). it was one of my favorite things to do. especially by myself. i could cry in peace. in the dark. about fictional characters. i miss doing that. it might sound lonely to you, but i think theres lonelier things to do. theres lonelier things to be. i always did this consciously and sometimes even unconsciously. i would just go watch anything really when i wanted to be by myself. when i was too burdened by the fact that i had nothing to come home to. not a person, or a call or a single goodnight. and yes- that still hurts me sometimes. especially now. being locked down for a whole year now has made that more clear than ever. all i have at the end of the day is me. and before this year-being me felt like such a burden but it was also all i had. and being someone who needs stability to be okay- that just wasn’t the best environment for my head (and my heart) to be in.
and still even now, all i have is me at the end of the day. and before that didn’t feel like nearly enough. it didn’t feel like it could ever be enough at times. but this past year has taught me to accept that most times, the things i actually have control over are very small. this past year i think none of us have had much control over anything. and i think that statement in general has had a huge impact not only on these times, but also everything in my past i tried so hard to control. so the reason that i say that this is the year i’ve probably grown the most in my life is because i no longer feel the need to control every aspect of my life. it made me realize that every time i did- i failed miserably. i can’t control anything right now. and that used to cause me so much anxiety. but now- now i feel like i dont have to. and i still have so much inner work to do. but being faced with everything i was ignoring all at once- helped me pick every piece up little by little and fix it. and take my time to do so. and let myself feel my feelings when i did. i was told a lot growing up that i was too emotional, too much, too little. and none of those things really helped me. they just made me keep all those things inside. i didn’t know what i was supposed to be feeling at times. so when i became an adult, it was really hard to differentiate when my emotions were appropriate or not. because i never learned how to properly deal with them. all it took was one seemingly unimportant thing to topple all these feeings over for me. and out into my life. and it took me a whole 3 years to catch up to them and make sense of them. it took so much digging up to find out why i was actually reacting the way i was. and to my surprise, i found that many of my reactions were rooted in things id never actually dealt with as a child and teenager. behaviors id let freely into my life actually weren’t normal. i just didn’t really know that. i didnt know until i properly started to heal. i didn’t know until i made some very healthy relationships (which im eternally thankful for). and they taught me otherwise. i had to deal with years of feelings in just a short amount of time. so sure- someone broke my heart. a few friends left me here and there. but what was actually heartbreaking was the fact that i let them do that. what was worse was finding out after why i’d let all of that happen. what was worse was finding out that just by a few questions i wouldve known that that was not the right thing for me. what was worse was feeing like i was watching myself from the outside in- trying to stop everything from falling apart but it was happening anyway. because when you feel like you’re watching yourself from the outside you feel like its all going in slow motion and very fast all at the same time. and you can’t do much about it except try to deal with it. as best as a 19 year old girl could have dealt with it.
“i took care of myself and it wasn’t beautiful. i put in the work and wrote all the bad memories in detail. i apologized to all the friends i didn’t have the energy to talk to. i finally cut off my dead ends and bought produce; slimly avoided sustaining myself on barbecue chips and poetry. i recycled. i set an alarm for 8 hours of sleep and did not sleep more or less. i took care of myself and it wasn’t bubble baths. it wasn’t body lotion from bath and bodyworks and three-cheese pizza. it was uncomfortable. it wasn’t beautiful, but i am, and it didn’t have to be beautiful to be worth it.”
– schuyler peck, the greatest act of self–love isn’t always pretty
one of my favorite songs lately has been tolerate it by the one and only- miss taylor swift (bless her for re-recording her albums btw).
anyways- i was listening to the whole album while driving and i felt myself getting really emotional when i got to this song. even now, its hard for me to even finish it. the line that stuck out to me the most was : “i wait by the door like im just a kid, use my best colors for your portrait“. i had never heard simply tolerated love being described that way. when someone does the bare minimum, yet you still try your best. its like the song was talking right to me. i have felt like that. when you’re a child you always wait by the door before talking to your parents because you’re scared of what they’ll say. you always use your best colors for your pictures and whatever you draw. you know nothing else. but then you grow up and you don’t expect to feel like that- in such an undertoned way. as an adult or teenager you do the waiting, the using your best colors, even when you know that sometimes those you love are simply tolerating your love-not celebrating it as they should. it made me realize how far i’d come from tolerating the bare minimum. my love deserves to be celebrated.
most of my younger years i was a ballet dancer. it was one of my favorite things to do in the world. and you’re probably asking yourself why im bringing this up. well that’s because ive lived my life in a way that reminds me of my dance years. when you dance ballet and are learning to do any dance move, an arabesque, a chassé, a pirouette- you have to control your breathing. not controlling your breathing can mess a whole routine up. not controlling your breathing and counting, you might as well not even try. an 8-count is like sentence. it helps you keep track of the beat and the song and choreography in general. it has to make sense. i’ve seen complete dances at a recital get ruined simply because someone lost their count.
i guess its similar to the way ive lived because i thriveeee off routines. before- when i missed a single step in that routine i felt like everything was off. like i had to throw the whole thing away. the whole dance you can say. so one day after living so diligently to not miss a single step- i found myself losing a lot of important things at once. you can imagine how that threw me into the biggest unbalance of my entire life. thats why i say that my early 20’s weren’t the best. they were quite literally the worst. no one really ever told me they would be until was already there. and although i can’t say that i didnt have my happy days and milestones- because i did, most of it was confusing. i did have happy times. i traveled more than i ever had. i saw places i didnt think id ever see. i felt a whole new range of emotions-yes. very few of them were good, but the ones that were, were just incredibly happy. incredibly good. incredibly beautiful. the few moments i had that brought true happiness were just so beautiful that it felt like a whole dream.
but now- how in the world would i get out of this one? if you told me a year and a half ago that i’d feel at peace right now, i wouldn’t believe you. to think that i could live a life where i wasnt constantly scared- was unfathomable to me. like i mentioned earlier- scared and loyal. my biggest personality traits. but being in the situation we are in now has helped me delve deeper into why i came to be the way i am. i thought before all this happened that i was actively working towards improving myself but really i was just putting myself down constantly. repeatedly. when i changed something about myself it was because i absolutely hated it. not because i loved myself enough to improve toxic or bad behaviors id learned over the years. but in reality- facing yourself and actually appreciating not only where you are now but where you will be if you put the work in, in the right way has been so incredibly beautiful for me. i look at myself in the mornings sometimes and tell myself-“vi, you need to change ‘x’ thing but i love you anyways. you’re trying your hardest. keep going.” and actually putting the work in, not just saying i am. like making a list of steps with due dates type of working on it.
now i guess talking to myself might make me look a little crazy but really who isnt at this point. weve been inside for a year. how else could we be feeling right now?
there are more things in my personality that i have changed in the past year that i hadn’t been able to crack before. when you’re trying to outgrow the person that you are, it helps to go somewhere that helps you outgrow that old person. that helps you grow into the beautiful little person that you already are, but will improve with love and attention. if i could go back to my 18 year old (extremely scared self) that’s what i would tell myself. thats the one thing i would change. the way that i spoke to myself. i wouldnt have called myself stupid so many times. i wouldn’t have hidden my feelings so much only for them to come bursting out years later. i wouldn’t have let others belittle me if only i had spoken to myself nicely. if only i had liked myself enough to work on myself in a way that wouldn’t have hurt me. because if ive learned anything recently- its that when i talk to myself nicely, when i treat myself well, when i work on the bad parts of my personality in a way that im not belittling myself but upbuilding myself instead it really changes your life, it really works. so that then i can give the best version of myself to not only the people already in my life but to whoever will come into it. im not sure how much sense entirely this all made. but i hope that i can keep growing and writing and being happy even in circumstances that aren’t exactly ideal. i hope that i can continue working on myself in a way that upbuilds me and others around me instead of making myself feel like i have nothing together.
i hope that by becoming a better version of myself i can keep the people who have helped me become that better version.
and i really hope that it stays that way. i hope that i can welcome change with open arms instead of running scared. i hope that i can welcome it even when im terrified. because let me tell you- all the best things in my life have come from decisions that once terrified me. and they make the most amount of sense now.
i guess the only thing i can say now is that to become that better version i know im going to be scared, but the endgames are always worth it.
the good endings (or shall i say beginnings?) are always worth it. when one thing ends, another subconsciously starts.
the ending and beginning of me finding myself has consisted of being real with myself- but in the most loving way possible. it has consisted of me being terrified but going for it anyways. it has consisted of me being consistent with myself.
its the ending of a what feels like a big search for myself, but the beginning of something so much better: living up to the person i’ve worked this hard to be. staying consistent so that she can be stable. so that she can be happy.
18 year old me would be very proud. 18 year old me wouldn’t even have been able to imagine all of this. this all feels like a letter to my younger self.