I have always been fascinated by biology and the ability of all living organisms, no matter how small, to develop and thrive in systems so intricate and complicated. Nature, even though it’s so seemingly—and at times very obviously—unpredictable, has reason. Everything, from the smallest organelle inside the smallest cell in the most insignificant part of any living organism, must work hard, must work well, and must perform its given function in order for everything else to function properly. If that tiny, nearly invisible piece of the puzzle isn’t doing the best job that it can, then the rest of the system performs at a level lower than its capability.
I’ve never been one to settle for the mediocre. I try to dedicate myself fully to everything that I do because when I set out to do something, I don’t know how to do it with anything less than all of my heart. But often times, this projects me into places where I feel completely overwhelmed, worn out, and even lost. When I try to give everything I have to everything I have in everything I do, I end up forgetting about the things that I’m most passionate about and end up being half-passionate about a lot of little things.
Of course this attitude extends to my relationships. I often find myself feeling hurt, belittled, and unwanted in so many of my friendships because I give more than I get back, and it’s taken me years to realize that a lot of that is my own fault. Not all of it, but most of it. We often expect people to give us back the things that we give them. But placing that expectation on others is not only unfair to them but to us as well. I spent so much of my life trying to give and give and give in everything I did just in hopes of getting something back. But unlike biology where there’s a clear scientific answer and reason for why things work the way that they do, life isn’t as clear-cut. You can’t throw a certain amount of passion and love into the universe and expect it to come back in a proportional amount. I wish it worked that way, but it doesn’t.
As my life moves forward, I realize that the only inevitable rule of the universe is that almost everything is out of my control, and the only thing that I can count on is change. But with this blunt truth comes not only a solution but also a responsibility: I am the only thing that I can control. At times I have felt completely and utterly defeated. At the end of the day, I have to put my head down on my pillow, and I have to be at peace with who I am, even if everything I had and did and knew was stripped away from me.
Self-love is a tricky giant to tackle. Putting yourself first doesn’t make you selfish, it doesn’t make you insensitive, and it doesn’t make you off-putting. When you take care of yourself and do all that you need to do to put the best version of yourself out into the world, you’re helping your community and the world as a whole function at the highest level possible. And that’s pretty powerful.
You might believe that you’re just one insignificant cell among cells being swept away in the everyday rush of the world. And sometimes it’s easy to let that feeling of insignificance overpower you. But when you feel this hopelessness, you need to remember that during these trying stages and struggles you are your most important possession. You have a duty to love yourself so that you can love others. I need you and so does the world. So does every other cell working together to make the heart of the world pump and beat powerfully and loudly. When you’re properly taking care of yourself, you’re making the world a much easier place for us to fall in love with.