I sometimes feel as if you’ve spent most of your life surrounded by people who told you over and over that you weren’t good enough, or smart enough, or trying hard enough. These people seem to flock to you, maybe because they know that, head bowed and ashamed, you’ll listen to what they say. Some of them might be kind-hearted, trying to push you or fix you with tough love, while others just want someone to hurt and humiliate. Whatever their motivation, I wish I’d been there when they said these things, so that I could have raised a ruckus, shouted them down, told them how very wrong they were.
The real kicker is that you blame yourself for listening to these people; you honestly believe that you should have known better, should have held your own. Having grown up in a world that loves to quote Eleanor Roosevelt on how no one can make anyone feel inferior without their consent, you think that it’s your fault that these spiteful words and ideas crawled under your skin and wove themselves into the fabric of your being. It’s not, though. It’s not your fault. No one could ever endure that much raw malice without starting to doubt their own self worth.
You tell yourself that you’re nothing but wasted potential, when in fact the exact opposite is true. All of your potential is still intact; you still have every possibility of achieving the things that you want to achieve. That’s not to say that it will be easy, or that it will happen right away – I’m not discounting your struggles, both past and present. But still. A sixty-four-year-old woman just swam from Cuba to Florida after trying to do so for thirty five years. There is no statute of limitation on dreams.
You think that no one notices when you get up to leave the room or slip away early from the party, but we do. We all do. We miss you when you’re gone; we miss your laughter, your warmth, your kindness. We miss your bad jokes. Most of all, though, we miss your steadiness, your solid, comforting presence. We miss you.
You want so badly to keep everyone else safe. You’re the quiet fixer, the person in the background making sure the show runs smoothly, but you’re also the first person to stand up and say something when others are threatened or in danger. You think nothing of disregarding your own safety or well-being if someone else needs your help. You are always there to help.
You are astonishingly loving and protective of so many people, without ever feeling as though you deserve any love or protection for yourself. You put yourself in the line of fire over and over again, though you would never let anyone else return the favour. You act as though you have a debt to pay to the universe, although you’re not quite sure why or how. You act as though the only way that you can justify taking up real estate on this planet is by living only for other people. But you don’t have any debt to pay, and you are just as worthy of our love as we are of yours.
You deserve everything good in this life, starting with a person-shaped space that you can occupy without feeling guilty or inadequate. You have so much worth, not just because of the wonderful things that you do, but because of who you are and the particular talents and skills that you possess. You are worthy because you are you – a person who always thinks of others first, who keeps their head down and uncomplainingly does their work, who delights in bringing a smile to someone else’s face. In room full of people, children and animals are drawn to you first because they know that they can trust you. We all trust you.
When we run into you on the street, or catch sight of you across a crowded bar, or watch you quietly, hesitantly slip in through the door, we are always so happy to see you. We are always so happy that you are here.
You deserve this, all of this.
You deserve our delight in you.
You are worth it.