Saturday, August 13, 2016

Words to Live By: Toni Morrison

I came across this terrific quote, posted online by my good friend of many years, Kimberly Greenberg. Like most great quotes, this one flashed on my radar just when I needed it most. The universe has a funny way of doing this to me. Lately, I've finally gotten smart enough to shut up, pay attention, and listen.

This quote captures my greatest struggle: letting go of dead weight. A people-pleaser to a fault, this ridiculous need to make others happy, to be pliable, agreeable, and just plain nice has caused me more heartache than any other of my many flaws. Not too long ago I woke up one day and realized more than half of the people in my life were causing me anxiety, self doubt, depression, and pain. The worst part: I was allowing all of this to happen. No one was to blame except for me.

We are the company we keep. It's so true. If you feel your life has gone to hell, look at your social circle. It's an all-too-true reflection of who you are. Don't like yourself? Change the people who surround you. Find a new circle. Or navigate the world alone. Don't be friends with people just for the sake of fending off loneliness. Filling the void with fly-by-night fair weather folks is a recipe for a broken heart. Every time.

I started embracing this quote and enforcing it in my life long before I knew it existed. This year alone has required me to stand up for myself in various situations (for various reasons) more than I ever have before. Sure, it's empowering - but it's also terrifying. Realizing your own power, your own strength, your own worth is remarkable and exhilarating, but for me it's been a bit sad. I want to go back now and tell my younger self, "There is no need for you to put up with the bullshit you're being asked to deal with. Say no. Get up. Walk away. Love yourself a whole lot more."

Since I can't do that, I'm moving forward in my life with fewer friends, a longer list of people I've pissed off, and the reassurance that speaking up for myself and insisting to be treated with a certain level of respect is necessary. Otherwise, those around us can take our strength and use it against us to hold us down.

I've always known I've had the ability to fly. I just didn't realize how many people my wings were trying to carry.

No more, I say. This journey is mine and mine alone.

I'm not sharing this flight with anyone.

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