It took me getting away from the people and places I had grown up with to truly know who I am and to truly learn how to love myself. It was within exploring more of the globe that I came to know who I really was and came to know life with joy and passion and love that wasn’t ridiculed or judged or conditional. When I’ve had to return back to where I grew up I climb mountains and swim in oceans or lakes to find that same type of freedom from their never ending plight to conform me.
I’ve come to see we all play roles in each others lives. We each come into one another lives, whether short or long, whether doing good or bad to serve a purpose that affects our personal growth process. We are each teachers and we are each learners. You can never really control who you will be for someone else. Some people come into your life to teach you either with love or with hurt, or at times both. Other times you enter people’s lives to do the same.
I have been the teacher to many and I have been taught by many. There are times when I’ve had to play the role of “bad guy” to others (especially in my younger years) and I’ve had others play that role for me. Most of my life was learning lessons the hard way through hard love, hurt, loss and trauma. It wasn’t until recent years that I’ve been given the gifts of learning lessons through love and kindness and compassion and I learned to give my wisdom in the same way.
It was my first experience with learning a lesson through the caring of someone else that I began to understand the roles we play. At the time I said something that was beyond what I consciously knew or understood. I told a person that despite our disagreement and odd timing in each others lives that something in my soul was telling me not to lose them. I said that just like that same gut instinct that told me to move half way across the world alone, it was telling me that they were suppose to be something big in my life or I was meant to be something big to them. I told them that I didn’t understand how but I knew that either I was suppose to teach them something or they were suppose to teach me something or we would both learn from each other but no matter what it was it was important. And in the end I was right – they became one of the most influential people in my life.
Since then I’ve become better at being able to tell the role I will play in other’s lives. I can have people reach out to me and I can tell I am meant to be the teacher. There are other times I can think to myself “I am meant to learn a lot here” and I make sure to listen as much as possible. And there are times that still surprise me. But there is a kind of relationship or bond where you both benefit from one another. It is the best kind of combination you can hope for.
It’s the people with whom you mutually teach and learn together, with respect and unconditional love, that become your tribe. They are the people where you each add value to one another’s lives, where you each meet with a respect for one another, where you walk away from any conversation and experience with them feeling better within life. These are the people who you feel eternally grateful for no matter how long or short they’re in your life. They are the people you know (even if you drift apart) you will always wish them the very best in life. I’ve been blessed to have had a handful of these people and if you find people like this know that they are your tribe. Mutual respect, understanding, and unconditional love are rare. Make sure you tell these people what they mean to you and fight to keep them in your life.
That being said, sometimes these people aren’t meant to stay for a long time but are meant to make a huge impact. It will be painful to lose such a meaningful connection in your life but the loss doesn’t change how important it was and it doesn’t change the lessons you learned or the impact you made along the way. We want these connections to last a life time but sometimes your lives don’t land on the same page, not because of anything bad, but because living your best lives takes you to different places. It is important to recognize that and to let them go when you know it’s time. It is important to thinking of them with happiness but not with nostalgia.
I wanted to talk about how special those people are because more often than most there will be people that come into your life who say they love and care for you, who say they support you, but who in turn judge you, who hold things against you, and who tell you that you’re too much of something. I’ve come to realize those aren’t the right people for you and shouldn’t be given time or space in your life. A lot of the people I grew up with were these people. Constantly hiding their manipulation, judgements, and ridicule behind the statements “I care about you”, “I love you”, “I want the best for you” when really all they wanted was for me to conform to who they wanted me to be.
When I started to practice self love and rip these people’s grasps from my mind and liquidate their space from my life I learned the valuable lesson; anyone who doesn’t accept you for who you are doesn’t deserve space in your life (and certainly not your mind). Really anyone who tells you to change who you are isn’t worth your time. If you grow up with these people from a young age it’s even harder to realize that the actions behind their words aren’t caring at all. It is important to differentiate the people in your life who say they want the best for you when really they only want what is best and easiest for them. Even if these people are kind to your face it’s important to understand that if they tell you that you need to change that isn’t “caring” that is in fact the opposite.
I realized a long time ago to not allow people into my life who don’t accept me entirely for who I am. I spent years ridding myself of these people. But sometimes it is the people we are most comfortable with or the people from our past that can slip through our perceived “true friend” gate. Recently I spent two days feeling the worst I have about myself in an extremely long time. I was taken aback as to where it came from because I am proud of who I am even if I am working on myself and constantly wanting to grow and evolve. Because it was so unlike me, after a few days I realized that a person from my past manipulated me and gaslighted me into believing the worst of myself due to unhealed hurt I caused them from the past.
My growth and inner work was strong enough that I was capable of knowing something wasn’t right and realizing my thoughts weren’t my own, my thoughts were manipulated there by someone who resents me while telling me they love and care for me. I have such a strong sense of self that I knew that how I felt about myself in those moments didn’t place right. I took time for self reflection and came back knowing that I am not sorry for a second about who I am, knowing that I am a good person and shouldn’t be held to who I was in the past who was a lonely depressed traumatized girl looking for love and belonging. The experience was a good reminder for me of something I live by and something I whole heartedly tell others to live by – never apologize for who you are.
Thank goodness I have my tribe and those people reminded me that how this person viewed me was far from the truth. They made it easy for me to snap out of someone else’s manipulation and walk away from it. I encourage you to find your tribe in a world that is so ready to judge (if you haven’t already) and to look at and understand that your roles in people’s lives will be different, just as they will be to you, but your past does not define you. Who you are today, in this moment, this is who you are. And every day you get to make the choice of the type of people you keep in your life, of what you do with your days, the kind of life you want to lead, and how you want to see yourself. So everyday I hope that you choose to keep people in your life who love and accept you unconditionally, I hope you fill your days with what brings you joy, I hope you choose kindness and compassion, and I hope that you choose to love yourself. And remember at the end of the day never apologize for who you are.