If there’s anything I love most about my mother, it’s that she’s a giver. With her ability to so seamlessly give her love and kindness without ever wanting anything back makes her a true gift to the world around her. I grew up watching her do it … give pieces of her heart out over and over again, believing that with each little piece, she could make a difference in all who’s lives she touched. So it comes as no surprise to me when I see how much she is loved and respected in return.
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be JUST like that. And now, more than ever, as a married woman with my life literally in my own hands to mold as I pleased, I wanted to shape it as a life of giving … just as she had.
Growing up, she had told me that I really was a giver; and I felt proud that I was finally following in her footsteps. It became my own personal mantra to believe that everyone deserved a bit of affection and kindness, and I wanted to be the one to grant it to them. But any giver would know as well as I do, how quickly the selfless joy of giving, once exhausted, becomes a fight to protect what little you have left.
The problem isn’t about appreciation or wanting anything in return. The problem is that suddenly you’re expected to give all the time. And expectations leave you feeling like you are constantly falling short … constantly disappointing.
So amidst my struggle to keep up with expectations, I ran to my mother—which, even when you’re married you never grow out of—for some kind of guidance. She had been doing it all of these years after all.
If you really want to be a giver, you must first give to yourself. You must first love yourself. When you love yourself, you strive for success and happiness in all that you do. But that doesn’t only include you. It includes the success and happiness in your every relationship, in your every behavior with others, and in your every course of life. You love yourself first so that you have the ability to love others too.
I always thought that “love yourself” was just another way to say that it was ok be selfish. But when my mother pointed out that, at the end of the day, it doesn’t only affect me, it all began to make better sense.
The only person I was falling short with was myself. I was so concerned in giving others what I felt they needed that I forgot about me. I put aside what I wanted; I constantly questioned if I was doing enough; and worst of all, I allowed the growing expectations to take priority over what was really important to me. Where did that get me? Bitterly hiding behind a defensive wall of “leave me alone.”
My dear givers, listen closely. I realized that not everybody gives the way we may give. So I began to give back to myself. I began to love myself. And in return, I finally filled the empty hole I dug from giving too much. Now, I’m slowly going back to being Karma’s good elf again, happily spreading the bit of love and kindness I still believe everyone deserves. But first and foremost, I’m giving that bit of love and kindness to me, and turns out, that’s what I’ve need all along.
: : : Friendship with oneself is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world : : :
— Eleanor Roosevelt —