Ever since graduate school I have been on a journey to learn how to love myself, recognize my self-worth, practice it, and teach others. Well, several months ago I went to a friend’s wedding and was able to see a big way in which I wasn’t there yet.
At the wedding I stayed in a suite with four of the bride’s friends, all but one I’d never met. When I arrived I quickly looked around. There were three bedrooms. One with two single beds, one with a king bed, and one with a king bed and an ensuite bathroom.
One of the ways I’ve learned how to love myself is to basically fake it until I make it — act as if I knew my worth. I don’t always know what that looks like, so it helped me to think about what two of my friends would do (friends who I thought were pretty good at recognizing their self-worth).
I knew my friends would have just taken the room with the king bed and the bathroom, no problem. After all, does anybody deserve it more than anybody else? No. I was no more worthy or less worthy than anyone else. I had just arrived first and wanted that room. I knew my friends would have done this because I have stayed with them in hotels and houses before and that’s what they did.
Here’s the thing. Taking that room was not my natural inclination. In fact, I wanted to wait for everybody else to show up and imagined that we would all decide on rooms diplomatically together, perhaps by pulling straws. Waiting for everyone else is what I would have done in the past.
So of course I saw the gap. The gap between what I would naturally do and what I knew my friends would have done.
Whenever I see the gap between what I would naturally do and owning my self-worth, I know what I must do.
I put my stuff in the room with the king bed and bathroom and waited for others to show up. I very quickly started losing my nerve. I felt selfish. Who was I to claim that room all to myself? What if somebody else had a special reason they needed a king bed with a bathroom? What if somebody else really wanted that room? I wouldn’t really mind sharing a bathroom, I was used to it!
Luckily I had heard all of these gremlins before and knew that they weren’t necessarily meant to be listened to. To me it was a sign that this was important for me. I held my ground.
When the first woman showed up, I’ll call her April, she looked around the place just as I had, then came over and asked, “Is that your stuff in the room with the bathroom?” “Yes,” I told her (not quite willing to say more than that). “So are you taking that room?” she asked. “Yes,” I responded. She was disappointed but also confirmed my decision when she said, “I totally would have taken that room! Well, first come first serve!” and went and put her stuff in the other room with a king bed.
Feeling braver about my decision, my doubt started to go away.
The second woman showed up, Darlene, and she was a little bolder than the first. “I’m going to take that room with the bathroom.” She told me. “Well, actually, that’s my room, I already put my stuff in there,” I told her, courageously. She accepted my answer, also disappointed, and found another room.
Nobody’s love matters more than your own. You can’t expect anyone else to show you a love that you can’t show to yourself.
How many times had I waited for everyone only to have someone who knew what they wanted, knew they deserved it, and weren’t afraid to ask for it, come in and just take what they wanted? I had lived in that scenario so many times that I knew distinctly how it felt when somebody else showed that they believed they deserved something that I myself hadn’t thought I deserved. I would feel less worthy, because that would be the exact message I had given myself. I was extremely glad I had stuck to my decision.
It wasn’t overly selfish of me. April and Darlene, recognizing that they are just as worthy as anyone else, would have done the same had nobody else claimed it. Now my gremlins were even quieter, but I’ll admit that I still felt slightly uncomfortable. This told me that somehow I felt that I didn’t deserve it as much as somebody else, and I decided to just be with that feeling through the weekend. By doing so I stretched myself, closed the gap, and sent the message to myself that I am just as worthy as anyone else.