Your Best Self

If you could be better than you are today, would you do it? Would you try to be a faster, stronger, and all around better person if giving the opportunity to transform?

Of course you would. Because that’s the human condition. We all want to be better than we are. Why else would we get up in the morning but to see what we could accomplish?

Now, what if I told you that to achieve this better self you had to give up something incredibly vital to you. Would you still do it?

Consider this, for example. You want to get healthy. Fine. So, you go to the gym a bunch of times during the week and you eat healthy and you feel great. But all that gym time cuts into your sleep so you’re staying in on weekends and not seeing your friends or grabbing dinner with them because they eat garbage. What do you do then? Stay the course, and leave your friends? Were they ever your friends if they let you just prioritize the gym over them? Or do you ditch the new you?

I don’t know the answer here. But my guess is that the thing you want most is your new priority. If that’s hanging out with your friends or the gym or whatever. Whatever you can’t live without should be your priority, even if that means you can’t be your best self. 

Because, yes, you can pressure carbon into diamonds, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. 

Chew 

Have you ever had this experience? 

You’re sitting at your desk at the office at lunchtime. You aren’t eating, but your coworker is. You can’t see what he’s/she’s devouring, but it sounds like the most delicious thing in the world because they’re chewing it like it’s their last meal. You can almost hear every tooth grind, every tongue twist. A crunch and then they smack their lips and crunch, crunch, crunch. Slurp. Gulp. LOUD CHEWING. 

Okay, you get it. Now imagine your reaction. What are you feeling? Intense rage? Or just seething annoyance? Or like you’re going to murder that person’s whole family if they don’t put that apple down? 
Well, I know how you feel. I’ve experienced loud chewing before. And it’s annoying, definitely. (I’m not sure how you softly chew, but I guess you can work on it.) 

But have you ever thought about how that person feels? They’re just enjoying their lunch, and you’re not only judging them, you’re basically plotting their death. For eating their lunch. 

Maybe it’s time to look at yourself and ask why you’re so bitter. No, seriously. Why are you letting someone, who is enjoying whatever they’re doing, get in your way? Why is it their problem, and not yours? Why are you letting someone else’s life affect you at all?

Look, I don’t know you. You’re probably a reasonable person. But you need to ask yourself if it’s really worth getting fired up over. As long as it’s not hurting you physically, what’s the problem? 

You need to ask yourself: Are they being inconsiderate of others, or are you being overly sensitive? Go on. Chew on that for awhile. 

Soul Itching

Have you forgotten to take care of yourself today?

And I don’t mean did you forget to eat or bathe, and in doing so neglected your physical needs. I mean to ask, have you nourished yourself today? Have you given yourself what you really need?

Let me explain further. Let’s say for the sake of an argument, that we all have souls. (Listen, it doesn’t matter where those souls go after we die, that’s an entirely different argument.) And if you don’t like that, let’s just say that there is a part of ourselves that is uniquely…us. No other human being has the same nutty, nougat center as you do. And so it is has unique needs.

But we wear our souls down in the course of the day, like a pencil eraser. And somewhere along the way, we need to refuel. Me? I need to dance in front of a mirror while lip syncing my favorite songs to feel like I’m whole again. I need to drink a glass of wine and take a shower (sometimes simultaneously.) I need to speak to an old friend for hours at a time. I need to write.

I call this “soul itching.” It’s like scratching a part of myself that I can rarely reach, and it feels just as good. Think of it like a huge bear vigorously rubbing its back against a tree. Except on your soul.

And it’s really important to make time for soul itching. Because what happens when you don’t allow yourself that time to do what you like/need to do, you just get itchy. And when that happens, you make a lot of bad decisions and you get a little snippy.

So, don’t let yourself suffer. Scratch off a little at a time, steal little moments every day. You won’t know how it good it feels (and how much you needed it) until you do it.

You Need to Get Good at Dying

Okay, let’s all practice now. Hold your breath until you turn blue in the face. Do this until you feel like you can do it on command. Congratulations! Keep doing it, and you’ll be good at dying in no time!

(Please, tell me that you know I’m kidding. I don’t need any of my readers dropping dead on me. What if you die before hitting the “like” button?)

But still, you should get better at dying in a metaphorical sense. And what could I possibly mean by that? I simply mean that you need to get good at saying goodbye, at leaving it all behind, and starting over. Because you are going to be doing that a lot in life, not only with other people, but more often, with yourself.

Let’s see if this scenario is familiar: a person from your past or slightly distant present has a beef with you over something. Whether you forgot to text him/her last night or you weren’t keen to listen to their latest drama-filled story, you brushed them off, accidentally. What is the first stone thrown in the argument that ensues? You’ve changed. The old (insert your name here) wouldn’t act this way. The old (insert your name here) was my friend. 

Except, what that other person is really saying is that you are not acting in accordance with how he or she thought you should act. How dare you not stick to the script of your own life!

Which is just about as ludicrous as it sounds. You, believe it or not, are going to die a few “deaths” in your lifetime. You, though your friend may not believe it, are going to change, radically. You may have already “died” a few times already, as you had to reinvent yourself to survive. When you first experienced heartbreak, when you moved out of your parents’ house, when you lost someone who was close to you, etc.

Now, anyone who has lost someone dear to them can tell you that they are never really gone. We carry them with us because they’re bodies were too tired to carry the weight of their full soul. And that is what will happen to you. You will die, in a sense, but continue to live. You will say goodbye to the person that you once were, but you will never lose them. You will simply tuck that part of you away, for safekeeping.

And you should. Humans, by nature, have to adapt. We need to be able to keep changing and growing with our environment. It would be a real, true sort of death if we weren’t able to do that. If we weren’t able to keep going after we thought life had ended for us.

Of course, I’m sure you’re worried about losing yourself in this dying in life process. What if I shed a layer of myself that I wanted to keep? Well, put simply, everyone has a lighthouse inside them. The seas of our souls can get stormy, and they can obscure the lighthouse, sometimes the ocean spray can put the light out altogether. But you can and will relight them.

You see, people fall in love with each other’s lighthouses. That is to say, people fall in love with the core of who they are, not who you are or who you were or who you will be. They fall in love with something far less tangible and far more constant.

In the end, you need to get good at dying. You need to recognize that you will never live forever as the person that you are, but that you will build and create yourself, the person you were always meant to be. The sooner you say goodbye, the easier it will be to begin anew. Like the tides that meet the shore, you will fade and ebb and then surge and surge again. You can rely on this cycle, as so many boats out to sea rely on you.