Why Do We Disqualify Ourselves From What We Want Most?
“It takes one hard second to turn it around”
I was carsick in the back of a Sienna wondering how I would make it through morning sickness if I ever got pregnant — I could barely make it through an Uber Pool ride without praying to God to spare me. The floor of the car was looking appealing. The train of my thoughts was feeling more suffocating.
She’d swapped the pronouns and turned the anecdote on me — “Do you like yourself as much as he does?”
My answer wasn’t a quick “yes” and the weight of that silence made me feel uncomfortable even hours out. I thought I did. I know that in some ways I do, but in others? I’m falling so short I barely exist.
I barely exist. As a human. As a flawed person. As someone who I love unconditionally regardless of mental health issues, and body image issues, and “I’m in the process” realities.
I barely exist. As a human. As a flawed person who I love unconditionally because of her decision to be transparent about the realities that make her human, instead of in spite of them.
Maybe I was carsick. Maybe I just wanted to throw up because how nauseating of a truth.
I’d treated myself the way others who looked down upon me had treated me. Like I wasn't worthy of belonging unless I worked for it. I betrayed myself because others betrayed me. As if their actions spoke of me instead of to me. I didn’t feed myself love because someone else was throwing it up by their own volition. As if the directions read if they can't swallow it then neither could I.
I’d disqualified myself from my right to love wholeheartedly while navigating my life as a flawed human, all the while basically tattooing the offer on my forehead for anyone else who wanted it. The need others projected on me to be perfect, to not hurt, to not be angry, to not be anything or trigger anything other than happy feelings and comforting security, drilled me down to a carcass that was allowed to live, but not to exist in her wholeness.
We don’t exist in this world to fit into molds that are created for us, whether by us or by others. We exist to live without making it a self-punishing habit to shortchange ourselves from all we actually want. Because being human should not disqualify us from the experiences that humans participate in. To love? A human experience. To pursue passions? A human experience. To make mistakes and say things you don’t mean and trip? A human experience. To apologize and be forgiven? A human experience.
And yet, disqualifying ourselves based on our own humanity is our favorite hobby. We painstakingly, or honestly sometimes with too much ease, turn some of our most beautiful, human qualities into the reasons why we believe someone won’t (or shouldn't) love us. Simultaneously, we cross our name off of the roster, while gravitating towards the people whose humanity is so apparent that you can’t help but fall in love. Why don’t we give them the chance to fall in love with our humanity as well? Why do we think we're not as worthy as they are? Why do we think that they can show up in their imperfections, but never us?
Whether we’re talking about love or work, we create a full-time job out of vilifying ourselves, like the world isn’t doing enough of that on its own. The world hurts us by its own accord at least a third of the time, I want to break the cycle that has me filling the other two-thirds with punishing and depriving myself of my deepest wants on its behalf.
Because disqualifying myself from real love based off the fact that I get upset when someone betrays me or forgets to follow-through on the Valentine’s Day Broadway tickets, is honestly just dumb. Of course I’m allowed to be angry.
I don’t need a permission slip to show up in my own feelings.
We do not need permission slips to show up in our own humanity.
That we live in a world that encourages us to drill ourselves down to highlight reels, like that’s the only way we’ll be loved, is disgusting. That our humanity isn’t invited to the table when we break bread with those we love is a tradition worth breaking and building atop of.
“You have so much to offer,” said my friend to me over coffee last week. We were sitting side by side on a couch by the wall. She’d seen me navigate one of the harder seasons of my life. She knew the strong parts and the parts that hid in the closet for few too see. From her office to this couch, she'd never disqualified me from the love she knew I deserved.
I want to be able to do the same.
Why do we disqualify ourselves from what we want most?
Because the possibility of getting all we want and showing up in all of our humanity, at the same damn time, seems too perfect to trust. Turns out it’s a good thing I’m re-learning how to trust.