An Instagram post recently resonated with me:
I feel like people struggle with this on the whole. It’s why so many of us compare our imperfect lives to heavily filtered versions of other people’s “reality”. It’s why we don’t offer ourselves a measure of grace when we fail to live up to our own or society’s sky-high, unobtainable expectations. What if, today, in this moment, I could become my favorite version of myself, no matter in what circumstances I happened to find her?
Once upon a time, I lived the philosophy of being my favorite self day in and day out—I believed myself a spitfire, someone who believed that labels were only meant for canned food, in acting with integrity in all things, in the belief that small kindnesses can ripple out to make the world a better place.
I still believe whole-heartedly in these things, but I had to ask myself:
Who is my favorite version of myself?
In that moment, I realized—I don’t immediately know anymore.
At some point in my life, I started bottling my joy for the comfort of others. I cared so much what people close to me thought that I stopped valuing what I thought. I lost my voice. I stopped singing in the shower (“Okay, that’s quite enough, Renata.”) I found I’d lost my love of writing.
I became what I thought others wanted instead of valuing what I wanted.
I still find her sometimes. She shows up when I feverishly make guacamole from scratch to share with a friend, when I dance in the kitchen and feed sauces to my partner, when I chase my dog around and let her chomp on my forearms. She appears when I have thoughts like, “Is it self-righteous and ignorantly privileged to mention that I like that I hate gardening because I get sad for the weeds and that I buy the super expensive eggs because it’s important to me that chickens are treated well? Yes?” Well, here it is, unedited anyway.
There are certain societal expectations that exist for our benefit: brush your teeth twice a day, bathe with relative frequency, probably eat a vegetable with most meals.
But some merely exist as the deadweight of the expectations of others. I’m working to shed those, because my favorite version of myself is one who values herself, exactly as she is and in whatever emotional state she happens to find herself–independently of others.