I am selectively on my own team in life.
I think that many of us function this way (though I’m not really sure). Basically, I identify with myself when it’s easiest to do so. I hold my head high when things are going well. I boast my accomplishments and sing my own praises when the stars are aligned in my favor and my ducks are lined up in a row.
The rest of the time, I hide out.
When I’m staring down failure or inadequacy, I retreat. When I’m not who I want to be, I balk. When I’ve made a mistake or let myself down or otherwise failed to show up for myself (and the morals that I vehemently stand for), I am the first person in line to reject myself.
I don’t want to be on my own team when my team’s losing.
I want to be able to selectively choose myself.
But here’s what I’m learning as I get older: You don’t get to selectively fight for yourself in life.
Because self-love is simple on the sunny days.
It’s easy to believe in yourself when you’re gunning toward success and prosperity. It’s simple to accept who you are when you are getting promoted or winning someone’s heart or defeating a seemingly undefeatable challenge. It’s uncomplicated to fight for yourself when you’re already winning the battle.
But that’s also when it matters the least to do so.
Here is the truth about when self-love actually matters: it matters when you’ve fucked something up.
It matters when you’ve been trying too hard, running too far, pouring all too much of yourself into something, only to have it all fall apart.
It matters when you’ve let yourself or someone else down.
Because these are the times when it takes true strength to love yourself.
These are the times when you need to be a bigger, fiercer, more compassionate version of yourself than even you knew you were capable of being. These are the times when you have to be willing to take a long, hard look at your own life and realize that you’re imperfect, but you’re going to keep fighting for yourself anyways.
You’re going to keep on showing up for yourself.
Because at the end of the day, self-love only really counts if you practice it when it’s the hardest to do so.
It only counts if you can stare down the shittiest, most despicable parts of yourself and go, Okay. I am going to own these things. I am going to accept that they’re a part of me. I am going to accept that this is the fucking piece of shit human who is on my team right now… and I am going to make them get better.
I am going to fight for this person. I’m going to go to bat for them. I’m going to refuse to disengage from or give up on myself.
I’m going to love myself like a parent loves a wayward child – one who occasionally does the wrong thing, even though they know better. But who needs understanding and compassion to grow away from that. One who needs to be loved the most when they deserve it the least.
Because that’s the only way any of us ever get better.
We have to fight for ourselves even when it’s difficult and thankless and unnatural.
Even when we disgust ourselves. Even when we’re mad at ourselves. Even when we have a thousand miles left to travel between the person we are and the person we want to be, and there’s no end to the journey in sight.
Because those are the times when we need to show up for ourselves the most. Those are the times when we vehemently need to be on our own teams. Those are the times when we need and ought to fight for ourselves the most fiercely.
Because if we simply detach from ourselves every time we make a wrong choice, we fall back into the same patterns of pain and self-destruction, time and time again.
It’s not until we start owning those parts of ourselves, examining their origins and doing the hard work of actually changing them, do we start to actually get better.
Even if that means fighting for ourselves when we want to the absolute least.