The One Thing You Should Know About Yourself

February 5th 2008

.

It was strange.

.

There I was.

.

floating

Laying in my dorm room. Door locked. Late-night conversations              outside my door. As the chill, February air coasted through the open window >> between my hair and

d

o

w

n

my naked legs.

.

As I laid there perfectly still.

Arms crossed behind my head.

Hair      s c a t t e r e d     on my pillow.

l

l

a

Legs propped up against my  w

.

– Illuminated and shadowed by the street lamps located not so far away. Witnessing the light fLiCkEr off my body every time a stranger would pass them by.

.

It was strange.

.

Strange that I didn’t want to do anything else.

.

And strange that I was doing nothing at all.

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I remember locking the door. Telling my friends that I was going to go to sleep. Knowing that was a lie. And saying it anyway. Only because trading in a night of social and academic priorities for

.

Just this.

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And nothing else.

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Was something I never knew I needed.

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Penny wasn’t home.

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Not tonight.

.

And I had the room to myself.

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So I poured myself a

t

a

l

l

glass of water.

.

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And thought entirely too much.

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Recycling both the undesirable thoughts and desirable ones. Wondering how the girl named Olive who tells great jokes, and smiles so well was suddenly sitting in a shadowed room – alone. Feeling less than great. And less than well.

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But only because.

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Somewhere in the unintentional day, she realized how heavily outside opinions and outside circumstances really did weigh on her self-esteem.

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And how that was never supposed to happen.

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But how it really did.

.

.

.

I remember earlier that day I was having dinner with a few friends at a dining hall across the way. And someone at the table asked me amidst romantic storytelling and sexual confessions that slid from

one side of the table >>>>> to the other

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If I considered myself a pretty person.

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I asked them why. And they told me no reason. And then I asked them why again and they told me.

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“I’ve just noticed that anytime anyone ever compliments you on your looks. You make a joke. Name another friend with a better face. And never really say thanks. I guess I just always thought it was strange.”

.

I told them I was bad at taking compliments.

.

And they said okay.

.

And I guess as I was laying in my bed this night. Thinking about thoughts both undesirable and desirable. That I realized:

Maybe the reason I was so bad at taking physical compliments, wasn’t because I was crazy, ignorant or rude.

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But rather because.

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My last romantic endeavor ended in him saying:

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 “I know we’ve dated for a long time. And I think you’re really great.

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But.

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I’m going to date your best friend instead.

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She’s blonde and beautiful. And I just can’t resist.”

.

And he did.

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And they lived happily ever after.

.

.

Leaving me with self-esteem hangover and a blossoming sense of humor, tucked in my         side pocket.

Just incase I needed a defense mechanism the next time I felt second best.

.

Which as it turns out.

.

Became entirely too handy.

.

.

.

I took sip of my water. And kept thinking.

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About the time I was 5 years old. And my mom told me that she was going to sign me up for 3 sports and 2 instruments.  “And to choose one of each, Olive. Because I’m going to put you in both.” And when I asked her why, she told me

.

“Because I want you to feel special at something. And I want you to do well at it. So just in case you ever feel less than great, you’ll have something that can be your own accomplishment.

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And no one else’s.

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And also because.

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I want you to know what it feels like to be proud of yourself. Because everyone deserves to feel that way.”

.

So I did gymnastics for 17 years. And I played the piano too. I won a lot of awards. And I lost just as many. But I remember thinking about that when Peter said to me one day after our walk from Math class – How he was involved in many clubs. And how his grades were fantastic. How he aced the test I just failed. And was interning at the company of my dreams. And I remember feeling really small. And feeling kind of lost.

.

And feeling very mediocre.

.

And calling my mom that night and asking her if she would mail me my sheet music, please.

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“I’m just in the mood to play, that’s all.”

.

.

My thoughts were interrupted by overwhelming laughter coming outside of my window.

 Some boys. And some girls. I finally moved from my bed >>> and watched them as they jumped in puddles in the rain. They were happy. And they were soaked.

And it flashed me back to the time it was pouring rain outside on a Sunday. And my friend and I sprinted through the water-drenched streets – desperately seeking shelter inside of an apartment lobby. Where the lights were out. And the doorman was gone. And the only 2 ingredients we had in that very moment were conversation and time.

.

So we talked for 3 hours.

.

I sat on one side of the wall.

.

.

And he sat on the other.

.

.

And in that 3 hours he told me a secret he had never told a single soul.

.

And in the end he looked at me and said “I can’t believe I just told you that…thank you, Olive…thank you for listening…Please don’t tell anyone.”

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And I told him that I never would.

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And he told me I was a remarkable person. That he had never met a person who helped him the way I did in that moment. Who made him feel like less of a monster for what he did when he was 11 years old.

And he felt good again. And he felt happy.

.

And I felt really good about myself that day. And it made me really happy too.

.

.

And I guess as I laid there. With my empty glass of water. Serenaded by the laughter outside my window. Watching their shadows reflect off my body.

.

I got to thinking.

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I got to thinking a lot.

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How there are a lot of opinions about everything that we say and everything that we do. Opinions of strangers, friends, family and more. How every article that we read, and every advice that we hear, and every quote that gets instagrammed  tells us to “Believe in yourself!” “Don’t pay attention to what other people think of you!” “Be true to your heart!” “Love yourself no matter what!”

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But the thing is.

.

That’s hard.

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That’s really hard.

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In fact.

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Sometimes it feels impossible.

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But only because.

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We as humans are inevitably fueled, gratified and valued by a pool of opinions that come in the form of

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Compliments. Insults.  Attention. And more.

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But.

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What if.

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We drained the whole damn pool

.

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And measured our self-worth.

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By just one.

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One master opinion. And that’s it.

.

.

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Thing is.

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In your life, whether romantic, professional, personal or more. You’ll encounter and converse with a lot of different people.

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Some people who will make you feel                 average.

below

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And others that make you feel the exact definition of it.

.

above

And some might even make you feel  a little bit               .

.

But every once in a great while you’ll find someone in your life that makes you feel absolutely spectacular.

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Tells you the thing you deserve to hear.

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Commending you for the things you do.

.

And how wonderful would it be.

.

If that one person you found?

.

.

.

.

.

.

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Was you.

.

What if you were the person who looked at yourself every day and said “This shirt looks pretty damn great on me”

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Do a good deed and say to yourself “I’m a quality person.”

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Fail at something and say “Better luck next time self, you gave it your best shot.”

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Only because.

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Reassurance from others is absolutely wonderful. But it’s wonderfully addicting and wonderfully unavailable 24 hours a day.

.

.

Friends can take shifts to reassure you of your greatness. And an attractive person at the bar can up your boost your self-esteem with just.one. exceptional look.

.

But I can’t depend on that all the time. And neither can you.

.

I can’t always keep my humor in my           side pocket, or keep sheet music under my bed anytime I’m feeling a little less special. I can’t depend on a rainy day for uplifting conversation or rely on an exceptional look to measure my god-given body and my god-given face.

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But what I can do.

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Is take my damn side.

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Because imagine if the one opinion you ever really abided by.

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Was completely your own.

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And imagine if that opinion said.

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“I’ve got one damn body and one damn mind. And I couldn’t be more proud of it.”

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And suddenly you’re not waiting, relying and agreeing with the opinions of others.

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But rather.

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They’re agreeing with you.

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43 responses

  1. I needed to read this right now. Very moving. Very true! You really appeal to individuals of all ages. I am so glad I knew you when you were that amazing gymanst & babysitter up until now when you are an amazing woman! Keep writing from the heart :o)

  2. I can really relate to this. I’ve had similar conversations by myself before. Let’s be honest, when people says, “don’t pay attention to what other people think of you”, that’s bullshit. We want to be liked for who we are, to be accepted by others. I have put a wall up and it seems like you have put one up, too. It doesn’t seem like anything bothers us on the outside because we never show it, but on the inside, we feel those negative comments and unnecessary remarks. We don’t show it because we don’t want to show our insecurity. I also try to only care about what I think of myself, but it’s hard sometimes. A really nice piece of writing. Really appreciate it.

    • Hey!

      Thanks so much. I know exactly what you mean. It’s impossible to really feel steadfast in ourselves all the time. But once I decided to strive for that self-approval, I realized everything else just fell so much more naturally into place. That social acceptance wasn’t really the hard part. Accepting myself was! And it’s really kind of a cool journey to be on. Thanks for reading (:

  3. A wonderfully written post as always. This is exactly the kind of post I’ve been needing to read and it’s a great way to boost my mood, so thanks for sharing! 🙂 Have a great weekend!

  4. Bonjour! Beautiful post.

    It’s a good day when you reflect deeply, see the big picture, and take stake of your blessings.

    Timing, maturity of others, change, readiness . . . none of those things are solely in the control of any one person.

    Life is a lot about those dappling drops of rain, and the laughter you have and hear. It is not all about the echoes, though the echoes have wonderful navigation, truth, and meditative value.

    There is the question too many; the statement too many; the overshooting conclusion. When it comes to changing persons around us, conclusions can be deceptive and distracting from the real truth. It takes time to find the bigger, deeper truth for one person.

    Leaving such meditations at the observation and present time decision making level helps remove unreliable forward premises from our future thought, and focuses our awareness.

    Be sure to write another post to remind me of all these things I forget!

    • What a beautiful way to encompass the message I was trying to relay. Judging by your comment, I can tell you’re a wonderful writer yourself! I will definitely keep writing, as long as you do too (:

      Sent from my iPhone

  5. Another really well written piece 🙂 you should be your own biggest fan. Like I’ve said, I really think you will go far, believing in yourself is a pretty big step!!

    I really really rely on kind words from others. I get such a buzz from making others happy, especially if it’s through my art. I get bummed out if I get no feedback… I need to be my own cheerleader a bit more too 🙂

    • Hey that really really means a lot, thank you! As a fellow artist, I completely agree. It’s so easy to get down on ourselves and id be lying if I said I was crossing my fingers for likes and comments after every post!(Thanks btw haha) but I think we can both agree that if we didn’t both cheer ourselves on, at least a little bit, we definitely wouldn’t have come as far as we’ve come (:

      Sent from my iPhone

  6. HOLY MOTHER OF GREATNESS. I want to go to schools and hand this out to adolescents. I wish I had received a copy in middle school to know that even the most beautiful and talented folk have ears that work and minds that help words to linger and torment. Cheers! I am inspired to take a look at myself in the mirror again.

    • Whoa hey! What an awesome comment. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who thinks these things or can be inspired by the thought of really appreciating myself. I appreciate your flattery and for taking the time to read (: cheers!!

      Sent from my iPhone

  7. Really enjoyed this post, I have been thinking about some of this kind of stuff a lot lately. I wonder why we all seem to be programed to often see the worst in ourselves, I certainly remember the insults and play them over in my mind and believe them a lot more than I do the compliments. Like you said we are told to love ourselves, but it’s hard!

    • Hey!!

      What an awesome thing to relate on. Sometimes I think it’s easy to look at everyone else and claim them to be our harshest critics when really, it’s usually ourselves! It really is such a mystery but I think thinking about it at all is a great first step (:

  8. I don’t think I have every been so emotional about someone’s writing ever. It actually brought a tear to my eye and I am one of the most guarded people I know. Thanks from the bottom of my heart. But really you didn’t need to hear that from me. You already know from you right? When you sell your book, I’m the first in line for an autograph. Got it?

  9. Excellent written post… 🙂

    “I have the incapacity to sit still”
    – wonderful I believe we are many who appreciate that… 🙂 🙂

    Above “girlseule” said “I wonder why we all seem to be programed to often see the worst in ourselves” – it’s so right, actually if you give a girl a compliment so she tells you almost always she knows one who is prettier – a real man who give a girl a compliment, doesn’t care about the her friends look… “hehehe” 🙂

  10. Olive, I’m sure that you’ve gotten this before. But if you haven’t, here it is: Have you ever thought about writing a book? Like for young adults. Because everything you write is so relatable and is exactly what so many people are going through, I feel like your book would be a bestseller. If you haven’t yet, please consider it. 🙂

    Best Wishes,
    Moxie<3

    • Hello!

      Thank you for your genuine comment. It means the world to me. I’m really glad you asked that question too. The answer is yes!! I have two books I’m already writing. The entire reason I started this blog was to test out my work to see if/how people would react to it, and furthermore gain the confidence and attention to leverage a book deal! Wish me luck! Thank you for this boost of confidence, I needed it more than you know. (:

      On Thu, Aug 1, 2013 at 8:34 PM, olivethepeop

  11. Pingback: The People | olivethepeople

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