Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Valentine's Essay That's Not What You Think

I'm thinking about love today, and not for the first time.

I have no problem singing other people's praises; there are some fascinating individuals out there. Most are, in fact, if you take the time to get to know them. In my 'middle years', though, one thing's become apparent; If I don't learn to love myself, I'm never going to be able to give it to others.

I can compliment and I can smile, and I can laugh and say interesting things, but to love someone...truly love them from my core...requires that I love myself, too. There just isn't any way around that.

So I've been thinking about love. The thought that keeps forming, and I'm not even sure if it's a love thing, maybe more an observation...is this:

Others' assessments of me weren't that far off.

Before you start thinking that I've absorbed far too many insults and have taken them to heart, let me explain:

People say interesting things to us during the course of our lives. Some of it is very kind. Some of it is not. Some of it is neither; it's just thoughtless, is all.

These are some of the things I've been told:

"Grandpa always did like you best. I don't know why, though." (From an adopted 'Grandma', shortly after the adopted 'Grandpa' had passed away. I was four.)

"You have no personality." (Heard as a pre-teen)

"You just take things too far." (Found in a note from a junior-high friend, who ditched me a week later but thought it would be cute to explain all of the reasons why beforehand.)

"You make such a big deal out of things."

"You always were a drama queen."

Due to the 'adopted Grandma's' comment (she later became un-adopted), I repeatedly began to ask myself why someone would actually like me and came up with some pretty solid answers over the years. Even though I was never able to show her what made me special, I was able to look for that which was special in myself.

Being told I had 'no' personality did two things. I put more effort into developing what I had already, then assessed the source...one that needed me to appear dull, complacent and in the background in order to feel more important. This taught me that many times...most of the time...the comment is more about them than it is about the subject they're commenting on.

Taking things too far and/or making a big deal out of things has led to a tad bit of trouble here and there, but once I learned how to use it to my advantage, it wasn't such a problem. A person that takes things too far is the perfect type to become an advertising content writer. I take it just as far as it needs to go to sell the point. In the words of a fellow professional writer, it's the 'spark' that sets us apart from the others. Nowadays, I'm 'taking things too far', and for pay.

Putting 'drama' and 'queen' together by way of a description wasn't altogether an insult. I have an empathy for most people and have no problem showing it. I cry easily, I laugh easily, and I'm prone to the heart-to-heart conversation. As for the royalty part; you bet. I came from a God that bows to no one, so why as His daughter should I?

Think about the hurtful, thoughtless things that have been said to you in your life, and be glad. Those words have shaped you. The loving yourself part is when you take whatever words are flung your direction and you turn them into your personal plusses. When you can do that for you, you can easily do that for others, too...until they can learn to do that for themselves, and then the cycle continues on indefinitely.

Love thy neighbor as thyself.

Now. Go and do thou likewise.

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