I’m not perfect.
I’m not perfect, and neither is anyone else. You might see my smiling face on Facebook or read posts where I sound calm, in control, and as if I have everything figured out. You might watch life coaches or meditation teachers or yoga instructors and see people who are calm, confident, at peace, and happy, trying to teach you how to be the same.
And that’s admirable, to a degree. If someone is in a better place, it makes sense for them to reach back and pull you forward with them. You don’t, after all, go to a doctor who doesn’t have their shit figured out and knows how to consistently ensure successful procedures.
For myself, it’s important to tell you that I’m not perfect and don’t have shit figured out. I have a better sense of direction and I feel more grounded than before. I now have tools and techniques and friends to fall back on if things go south.
I still struggle with panic attacks multiple times a week, feel the numbness of being too overwhelmed, worry about my future in terms of career and finances, and wonder if I’m good enough. I’m still learning to accept and value and trust myself. I’m still learning how to shift out of a downward cycle or embrace a panic attack and ride it through without resisting. I still self-sabotage weekly and put myself down mentally for the slightest real or perceived mistakes.
And that’s okay.
It is. It means I’m human, I’m learning, I’m alive, I’m here, I’m growing. It means life has good moments and ones that just plain suck. It means I can say, “Yes, I have panic attacks. Yes, I had crippling depression. Yes, I feared I would lose my job because I called out so much. Yes, I know what’s it like to feel nothing but an aching hollowness that keeps sinking deeper in on itself. Yes, I know what it feels like to stand in front of a light switch and flick it up and down because I can’t remember if I turned it off or not . . . even though I just did—five times. Yes, I know what it feels like to want to nap because I’m too scared to wake up. Yes, I know what it’s like to have nightmares every night. Yes, I know what’s it like to feel lonely and unloved. Yes, I know what it’s like to feel anxiety creeping in and know there’s nothing I can do to persuade it to leave. Yes, I know what it’s like to see a good thing coming and cut it off at the knees because I’m too scared to be happy.”
I’m just like you. You’re just like me. Together, we move forward. Maybe not every day, because that in itself can be just too much. But we try. We reach out, we ask for help, we explore new options, even when it feels like we’ve been searching for years for a way out.
It’s not easy, but I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. I’m happier and more at peace, despite the panic attacks. I know myself better. My ability to endure and get back up more quickly has increased. I’m able to love myself after the pain of a self-sabotage cycle has passed. I’m able to dry my tears, breathe, and fall asleep, knowing I’ll wake up in a better place.
My bad days are still there. My bad moments still exist. We will always have bad days and bad moments. That’s *normal.* That’s human. There is nothing wrong with you for having a “bad side” and having people see it. Because though they may scorn you, they have “bad sides,” too.
And the only way we can move forward, I believe, is to hug the “bad sides” as tightly as the good. To accept the panic attacks and lean into them just as we welcome a peaceful afternoon in the sun. To say, “That was hard, but it was normal and healthy, and now I can learn. That sucked, and I feel bad, but I know my experience is human, and being human is okay.”
For my part, all I can say is, “Bless you. Bless your good sides. Bless your kind smile and weird sense of humor. Bless your mechanical mind or creative flair. Bless your ambition, bless your willingness to be in the moment. Bless you in your panic attacks, when you’re sobbing and shaking on the ground. Bless you if you read this and turn around for a nap because you’re too depressed to face life. Bless you if you self-sabotage today. Bless you, bless you, for trying. For being you.”
Challenge!: Create a mantra for yourself. Something along the lines of, “I accept myself, no matter which side is showing” or perhaps “I embrace this panic attack” or “I embrace and love myself even if I feel lost.” Come up with a variation that works for you and which you at least 50% believe. Write it down or memorize it, and repeat it often to yourself over the next week. Share the results below if you would like. Did it help? Make things worse? What did you learn?