I've found myself, through my teens and early twenties, faltering back and forth between self-consciousness and unapologetic confidence in certain personal relationships. Do you like me? Am I annoying? Have I said the wrong thing? Am I understood? Is my social media presence too much?
Simply put, it's exhausting.
There are so many people in my life who are and have always been loving, kind, and incredibly supportive. These people are solid, self-assured, and want to see nothing more than my (and their own) happiness, success, and fulfillment. They show up to events and show love when I put myself out there and try something new. These people know that I'm flawed but well intentioned and give me constructive, non-judgmental, and honest feedback when they feel I've fallen off track or overstepped my boundaries. These people know that these aspects of our relationship go both ways. That I love them, appreciate them, will show up for them when they call for me, and show up for them when they don't.
Despite these relationships, I've found myself investing in and seeking the approval of people with whom I don't always know where I stand. Sometimes they're warm, sometimes their cold- sometimes I feel like I have a hold on our relationship, sometimes I have no idea. Their approval and investment is so clearly conditional. And I find myself asking... why do I care?
I think a big part of my personal journey has been maturing enough to realize that not everything is always personal, and that the overwhelming majority of the time it's simply not. That although it feels good to feel appreciated, you're not always going to be seen for who you truly are by everyone you meet. This is such a cliched notion and one that's so easily brushed aside. But when it finally sets in... phew! The freedom is unreal.
If someone tells you that their relationship with you is forced. Let them go. If you always feel like you're swimming upstream, utilizing and investing your energy in convincing someone that you're worthwhile, let them go. Let them go with love, and live your life with the freedom of knowing that you are all that is needed and more. Invest in the people who see you for who you are, the relationships that lift you up, and for those that don't, my love, you gotta let them go.
Can I get an amen?