On the hubris of youth2 min read

I was once young and thin, and thought that it was all that mattered.

Oh, the time and energy I spent worrying about whether I was thin enough to be accepted by people I didn’t really like.

I thought the core purpose of my existence was to please others, to make them see how amazing I was.

Rarely, did I ever give a thought to making myself see how beautiful I am as a person. How tender my heart, how delicate my soul.

My years spent in the pursuit of acceptance were dark, though I kept telling myself I was chasing the light, I was doing good work, pursuing the right thing.

In truth, I was dimming the light already in me. Diminishing my own value and chipping away at my self-worth until there was barely a sliver left.

And in all the harm I did to myself, I always thought I was journeying towards what was right and good.

I gave until I had nothing left to give, and then I gave some more. Pleasing all those who came into my life and trying to be everything everyone wanted.

But I was but one person – and none of those figments of other people’s imaginations was me.

And so I tried to reconcile how I felt on the inside with what I was doing on the outside, and unhappiness ensued.

I let my victim-self rise out of those ashes like a phoenix and take over everything. And as I relinquished taking responsibility for my own life, so too, did I relinquish the power to make change.

Only now, decades later, do I understand that I have to take responsibility in order to take my power back. Forgive myself and others for failing to do better, to hold on tighter in the storm.

I have to let go of an idea of myself as perfect because I can never achieve that. What’s been broken cannot be unbroken.

When I find a piece of sea glass on the beach, I do not exclaim, “Oh, what a pretty bottle!”

Instead, I appreciate the innate beauty of that one little fragment of a bottle, that one piece that broke off from the whole and became something beautiful in her own right.

That one piece that survived the hardships while all that which was not needed fell away. That one piece that was shaped and matured in the churning ocean until she was ready to set foot on dry land again.

I was once young and full of hubris. I thought I knew what was important in life with all the wisdom of but a few short years.

Hopefully, now I know better.