“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” – Shakespeare
The other day, a friend asked me, “On a scale of 1 – 10, how much do you like yourself?” I hesitated and wondered for a moment, letting self-awareness and self-confidence do a do-si-do with any real (or false) sense of humility and low self-esteem that was hiding inside me.
I was struggling that day. Unbeknownst to me, it was apparent to this person. I thought that I had been holding it all together so well with just enough breezy positivity to keep me afloat. In reality, my world felt to be a sea of queasy uncertainty with me bobbing about in its waves, eyes searching for shore and feet probing the water for a foothold on the ocean floor. I had voluntarily jumped overboard at some other point in space and time and had yet to find a serendipitous life raft or buoyant timber in the midst of all the bobbing troughs. It was just me. And the water. And the floating.
My answer was, “I don’t know. Maybe an 8?”
“An 8? Are you sure? You don’t sound so sure.”
“No, an 8. Maybe even a 9.”
My friend said that she knew that I had taken some risks lately that hadn’t quite turned out according to my optimistic plan. That I seemed sad. That it was okay to feel sad. That maybe I needed to forgive myself.
“Can you do that?” my friend asked. “Can you forgive yourself?”
There are times when the arrow of truth pierces the apple of deniability that I oh-so-carefully balance on my heart. At moments like this, I go to my default: I burst into tears. My friend’s advice was gentle. “Tell yourself every day — out loud — that you like yourself. It has to be out loud. Try it. Right now.”
I did as suggested, and I actually did feel a little better.
“Okay, try that every day for the next week. See how it feels. Be kind to yourself. Please.”
The unsurprising result of doing this every day opened me up to some self-forgiveness. And it offered me some clarity. It is okay that I went into reverse when my intuition was leading me forward. It is okay that life has taken a strange turn since then. This is nothing new. I have experienced this very thing before and am now following some surprising and delightful dreams as a result of the detour.
I am here. Today in this moment. All is well. No one is going to take away my birthday. Deep breaths. The shoreline and the ocean floor is within me.
How about you? On a scale of 1-10, how much do you like yourself? Can you find it in your heart to forgive yourself for straying from your dream? Can you believe that all things work together for good and that you are on The Path, although it might not feel as if it is your “rightfully-intended” path? I see a lot of trails leading from this road in a criss-cross of directions. And a lot of un-pioneered territory that awaits someone’s first footfall.
Time to strap on my intrepid work boots and start exploring new territory.