When you look in the rearview mirror, it’s true that you’ll see the past and what lies behind you clearer. I’d like to believe that we’re more objective of our past. We can use hindsight to see what should have been, and we can use it to teach us where to go from here – what lessons to take. The reflection in that mirror can also bring with it an old favourite of mine, nostalgia, a feeling I have lost myself in many times; and it is one, I know that helps me assign worth to memories, people and even myself. It isn’t full proof, so how can I ever be sure of my own worth?
I have always placed my personal worth on the memories I created and my relationships, be that with friends, family or the person I date; and I suppose through my job and my writing. When I talk about worth, I am not referring to currency as such, but joy and value to myself. In essence what I consider important to me. An example of this would be that I get satisfaction knowing I’ve helped someone, done my good deed for the day, or getting good feedback on one of my works.
My focus tended to be outward, placing value and my worth on actions that weren’t completely in my control. I can understand that this isn’t a healthy perspective, assigning your own worth based on other people is always going to be disheartening; you can never truly understand the lens in which others view you. Some of that worth has to come from yourself, perhaps more so than through external factors. So I needed to restore a little order, I needed to believe more in myself rather than focusing on the image the world sees of me.
As you’ll know, I tried to regain a little of this through my goals last year. I made plans and started creating memories just for myself and the sheer joy I would get (although, it is always a bonus when you share those memories with others, and I’ll admit I’ve been lucky enough to have been able to). My health was also a priority as I started at the gym and saw a doctor.
My focus has changed over the course of the past year. I have begun to feel enjoyment in my day to day life by having goals to work towards. I’m working on creating a better environment for myself by cultivating better methods to support my mental health, being better at communicating (asking for more help when I need it) and I’m no longer afraid to ask for support.
I feel more balanced as I’m not pressuring myself to post on social media or here; instead I am learning to enjoy books, writing and even photos of trips I’ve done without the compelling need to post. Instead, I post if I want to and I write for myself and the enjoyment I get from it. I am no longer posting for others, just myself as something to look back and reflect on. I’ve stopped posting for the sake of posting and I’ve stopped trying to present this image of someone completely ‘fine’ all of the time. It’s not healthy, frankly, it’s exhausting to plaster a smile on when you’re not feeling it.
I’ve gotten better at being honest, not bitter, and more authentic to myself; and focused less on how others view my posts or what they think of me. As long as I am doing okay and happy, as my mum has always wanted for me, than that’s more than enough for me. I’m starting to climb out of this obsession of assigning my worth based on what or who I am to others. By losing this ‘image’ or control over my appearance, I’ve started to feel better; and I actually like myself better for it too. It’s been a welcomed and long awaited sight!
I finally know my worth. It’s a point where I can genuinely smile about the way I look, what I create, where I go and who I am. I suppose it’s even the idea that I am taking better care of myself by doing things for me, not for others. Knowing my worth has taught me that I have to live my life for me. I can’t take a backseat in my own story, what kind of writer would I be if I did?
I’ll admit it’s taught me a few truths too. By putting myself and my happiness first, I’ve realised that not everyone will understand. It may, has, caused many arguments. At times, I’ve been unsure and not really understood the person I’m working on (it’s made me do a lot of reflection and soul-searching). I’ve even had to say goodbye to people I thought would be in my life for a long time, possibly forever.
At the same time, it’s helped me become more independent and find more happy moments than I thought imaginable. Presented me with amazing opportunities and helped me meet some wonderful people too. It’s made me stronger, giving me time to heal and let go to what I need to. I, also, feel less anxious and stressed than I have in the past.
So when an old friend of mine caught up with me recently and said, after a while, that I had changed since university, I couldn’t help but agree. I was not the person I was then, and that’s for better.