I’ll never forget the first time I rode a roller coaster. Neither will my mom, I think, not only because she tells the story all the time, but because I clung to her so fiercely, that she probably still has scars to this day.
It was a roller coaster in Wisconsin, and whether this depiction is accurate or not, my mind’s eye remembers it as a wooden monster, reaching hundreds of feet up into the sky, ready to swallow me whole. Somehow, my family convinced me to go on the roller coaster. I must have been feeling ambitious and dangerous that day, because I obliged. I remember waiting in line, nerves bubbling inside my stomach, glacially moving through the line to the ride’s entry. The wait seemed eternal.
We boarded the ride, it began, and I immediately regretted my decision. Fear swelled in my eyes to the point of blackout. The only thing I really remember now is the incline towards the largest drop. We teetered over the edge and suddenly dropped hundreds of feet downward, the inertia of the roller coaster cars carrying us to the end of the ride. I finished the ride, elated, ferociously expressing that I wanted to go again. My fears were somehow assuaged.
I suddenly felt powerful again.
I remember feeling that way almost a year ago. I had done what I originally predicted to be impossible, making a significant change in my life, despite my fears, for the betterment of my future and my emotional well being. Within months, though, I found myself in a similar situation again, making compromises that I didn’t feel I should be making, all for the sake of feeling what I thought to be reciprocal love and care from another. I sacrificed love for myself in exchange for what I perceived to be love from another. And maybe the love wasn’t just perceived; maybe it was really there, but that’s irrelevant now. What matters is I allowed that external love and validation to override my sense of self-appreciation and self-love.
Essentially, I went through the same process, approaching the roller coaster, worrying that the turbulence and the change of doing what was best for me was going to be enough to swallow me whole and eat me alive. I feared merely looking at the wooden monster that was change, more than actually going through the change itself. But I did it again a couple of months ago, and I’m happy to say I feel powerful again. So what have I learned?
As human beings, we have a right to feel, but more so, we have a right to express those feelings. Emotions are there to help us naturally regulate our systems. They provide adrenaline and pleasure in times of elation, and they work as a filtering system for negative energy and toxins in times of distress. Allowing emotions to take their course, allowing ourselves time to live in happiness, grief, and all the stages in between, is something we can do to take care of ourselves.
Excellence comes not from the analysis and evaluation of your accomplishments, but from your ability to find yourself and stay true to what you believe.
To say the least, my values and morals have been tested this year. I’ve seen first-hand that the it’s not always easy to stick to your guns, but that, at the end of the day, you will sleep soundly if you stay true to who you are. Disappointing yourself is way harder to live with and more difficult to sleep with than fielding anger and disappointment from others.
Caring and loving for yourself is more important than anything else.
Love originates from within. It is the foundation upon which we give and receive all love, both the love we can see and feel from those immediately around us and the ethereal spiritual love we feel merely for existing. If we don’t feel that for ourselves first and nurture it accordingly, then it will be impossible to accomplish anything else.