I’m human (I have this confirmed by a very drunk guy in Stockholm, who looked at me and a friend I was hanging out with and spoke the deep wisdom: “You… you are people”). Which is why I guess it’s okay for me to have bad days. You know, those days where everything is the same as always, but suddenly you feel both like beating somebody up and crying all night long? Yesterday was one of those days, and as much as I hate to say it, there’s no rationalizing away those. Because sometimes, it’s matter over mind. And while you KNOW you have nothing to complain about, you still feel shitty.
Luckily, the universe is usually fairly mild on me on days like these. Yesterday, it sent me a great gift to go along with my mood: ‘The perks of being a wallflower’ on Netflix. I would go on and on about how much I loved this movie, but I really don’t think I can come up with words that will do it any justice. The carefully crafted dialogues. The beautiful camera work. The characters. The hope that remains, even after the credits start running. And there is this one perfect key line:
We accept the love we think we deserve.
Assuming we’re all adults here, this is spot on. We’re not held at gunpoint, we voluntarily participate in our relationships. This means that whenever we are in a relationship (and I’m talking all kinds of relationships here, not just love, but friendships, family relationships, business relationships and so on) where we feel small or abused or otherwise negative, that’s a choice.
So why do we think we deserve relationships that are bad for us?
Usually, this stems from other relationships, often starting as early as our interactions with our parents. If the only thing you know is being treated badly, it’s all too easy to think you’re the cause, the problem. From there, it’s a downward spiral. Every single thing that’s not perfect about you (and nobody is objectively perfect, simply because perfect is not an objective concept) becomes just some more evidence that you only get what you deserve. That you’re not good enough.
What’s interesting, is that society is completely unequipped to deal with these ‘imperfections’. While it screams people should be able to make mistakes, that’s not what we see on the news. Or in school. Or anywhere. If we make mistakes, we’re supposed to correct them (or get punished for them). Mistakes are tolerated at best, but never embraced. In fact, even people who love you and wish to support you, are often not willing to accept imperfections. And it happens in a way that’s so subtle, it’s very hard to battle. It happens through reassurance. Which has happened to you as well, if you’ve ever had a converation like this:
You: “I feel so shitty, I totally look fucked up / did something stupid / suck at [insert thing].
Your friend: “Don’t feel bad, I love you, you don’t [look fucked up, act stupid, suck at …].
This is meant well, but often only makes us more insecure. Because deep down, we know ourselves. We know we are not perfect. And the more our friends deny this, the more we strive to keep up appearances, to stop them from finding out that we are, in fact, not perfect, to avoid them being disappointed in us.
There’s a different way to approach our insecurities, something I’ve learned from a friend who didn’t try to make me feel better (but ended up doing so anyway). This friend, when I told him I was horrible at something, instead of telling me that was not true, said something that changed my life. He told me: “Yes. Yes you suck at that. So what?”
So what. Two little words with a huge impact. Though I’d never looked at it that way, it turned out to be just that easy. And liberating. Knowing that you can be imperfect and the world doesn’t stop moving. That you can screw up and still deserve good things coming to you. That you can be you and that’s enough.
And that’s what it boils down to: admit to yourself that you have flaws, yet remember that this doesn’t mean you have to settle for a bad relationship.
But if you ever have a night where your mind is dark and your heart is lonely… and no matter what you try, compulsively rationalizing away these feelings doesn’t work… Just let it be. Instead, get yourself some chocolate and a glass of wine and watch ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’.