I am 26 now and am in love with who I have grown to be. And no, this isn't a kind of narcissism or anything where i have some sort of superiority complex or that I have selfish tendencies. I just love the way i am. I've settled on who I am and have put myself as a priority.
There was a bit of advice i came across once that said something along the lines of, "you can't fill up another person's cup if your cup is empty," and this really stuck with me. I've been trying to live with this thought for a while, trying to make sure my cup is full enough to fill other's cups.
It makes so much sense! How can i spread love when my heart is empty of it? How can give others a sense of hope when i am hopeless? How can i encourage others to follow their dreams when i don't even believe in my own self? How can I put in 100% when I'm only running at 40%?
I could see it in my life. I was a tired, burned out, hopeless, and broken zombie who was trying to give something i couldn't afford to give. I've personally lived this time and time again in every relationship I've been in, giving so much of myself to the other person that my body and mind were so drained, i could no longer function properly. In the end, it wasn't worth it because i lost myself along the way. I sacrificed all of my hobbies, my time, my friends, even my chores and responsibilities for what? To constantly feel lost, miserable, falling behind, and like a failure. But at least i was in a relationship right? No. Enough was enough.
"You can't fill up another person's cup if your cup is empty."
When i really sat and thought about those words, I could see the evidence of the truth in them all around, not just in my own life
I could see hard working mothers that i worked with that were so exhausted and tired trying to be good moms and wives and didn't have the energy to do so. I see friends so giving and unwilling to say no to people that they run themselves empty.
I began to look into why people, myself included, tend to give so much to others and not to themselves. Why did i do it?
After spending a lot of time self-evaluating, I found that I did this because I believed my worth came from my relationship. Not that this was why EVERYONE did this, maybe some but this is just what i figured out about myself. I was wrong. I was so wrong and the worst part is that i had lied to myself about it. I was in denial, thinking that I was doing what i needed to do for myself when i really wasn't. See, I kept trying to improve my self view when it wasn't even accurate to begin with.
The problem was, after one very crushing relationship a very long time ago, I lost all self-esteem and self-worth. I no longer believed in myself and had functioning depression for years. I sought worth in other people. And because i was terrified of reliving what i previously went through, i bend over backwards for the relationship i was in. I never got what i needed out of any relationships since, though. I sacrificed everything for little return.
By the time i started realizing that and trying to be a little more selfish with my time, that's when the relationship began to fall apart. When this happened in my most recent relationship, I found it very aggravating that in order for my relationship with someone to prosper, I had to give up taking care of myself and my life. Why? Why was it that I had to bend more and sacrifice more for the relationship than the other person?
That's when i realized something was very wrong.
I realized all these past years that I deserved so much more than I allowed myself to have. I finally BELIEVED I deserved more. Deserved better. Deserved to be met halfway. Deserved time to myself. I deserved time to pursue my goals and dreams. I finally believed I could have the future that I wanted. But what about the others like me?
So many others out there dousing their own flame to fuel others, emptying their already dry cup to fill others. I've seen people who've done this for so long that they accept life this way and that's how they live. I see wasted potential when I look at these people. I see broken souls like how i was and to be honest still am. The difference is that i had the strength and nerve enough to pull myself out of the situation that was causing it. I only hope they can find their way out someday too.
All these things took years, and going through countless hardships in between to figure out. And learning to trust my gut and take care of myself were things that i would have never learned without those hardships.
As people, we are always learning, therefore, always changing. I believe if you don't change a bit after learning a lesson, you didn't really learn the lesson. My lesson? I'm able to give so much more when I'm running at 100%. I can put more effort into the things that are important to me like being a mom. I'm a better mom now than i ever was before simply because i take time for myself. I do little things every day to fill my cup and i encourage everyone to do the same. I know it's not as easy as it sounds, but start small and work your way up. Trust me, you are worth it.
I do still have a long way to go, as i still feel a brokenness deep down, but that first step towards healing has been taken. My cup is filling up and I'm more than happy to share...