I need to tell you something, and I need you to listen. More than that, I need you to believe me.
We might be close. We might not be. But it doesn't change what I have to say, which is this: You are worthwhile. You are amazing. You are awesome. You deserve the world and everything in it. You deserve happiness and love and support and true friendships and true partnerships. Not for anything you've said or done, but because you're you. You're a person. You have your own incredible, unique thoughts and emotions and feelings and desires and talents. You're unlike anyone else on this earth, and you can't even begin to appreciate how remarkable that is.
What you don't deserve is someone, anyone, who makes you feel less than that.
This is a subject close to my heart, as I wasted years of my life with a man (and I use that term loosely) who made me feel less than. Less than what, you ask? Less that good enough. Less than respected. Less than attractive. Less than loved. Less than amazing. Just... less. There were terms and limits on when I deserved to be treated well (usually reserved to when he wanted something from me), and usually I didn't measure up. My needs and desires were less than his, and always would be.
But, every now and then he would throw me a bone to keep me trailing along behind him. He would take me out for a nice dinner. He would buy me something. He would allow me to perform at a pole show. It wasn't much, but it was enough at the time. It shouldn't have been, but it was.
Why? Because I didn't think there was better out there. Because I had barely dated anyone else. Because I didn't think it was that bad. Because I felt guilty for wanting to leave.
I didn't know what I deserved. I didn't have the self-esteem to know what I deserved. I didn't have people telling me what I deserved, because they didn't know I what needed to hear until it was almost too late.
If this is the case for you, then I have one thing to say to you: fuck that shit. You deserve so much more. You deserve more than you think you do.
You deserve rainbows and unicorns and pizza and the fluffiest puppy/kitten of your preference. You deserve someone who thinks they're lucky as hell to have you in their life, and tells you so. It doesn't matter if that person is a friend, a family member, or a romantic partner. And it doesn't matter if sometimes you fight over stupid shit, or get on each other's nerves, or disagree about politics or religion or what the hell to have for dinner. What matters is that they are there for you, and want to be there for you. What matters is how they treat you, because actions 100% always speak louder than words.
We live in an era of burgeoning girl power. We have Wonder Woman. We have Ruth Bader Ginsberg. We have strong, capable women literally all around us. We are strong, capable women. And yet, we find ourselves in situations where we continually compromise our awesomeness for someone who sees no problem with that compromise being made. We stay with men (or women) who are small, selfish people, who pull us down so that they feel better about themselves, who keep us safe and controlled behind the walls of what we can or can't do. And we have not grown up with the self-esteem required to know when enough is enough. Or we've somehow lost that self-esteem along the way.
I was lucky. I found my self-esteem through the world of pole dancing and through the friends that I made through the pole and burlesque world. I found a relationship with a man who didn't treat me like a second-class citizen, like a servant, like less than. But even if I hadn't have found that man, I would still be better off alone than with someone like my ex.
That's the important part. You are awesome all on your own. All by yourself. You don't need someone else to make you awesome. You don't need to be thinner to be awesome. You don't need to be richer to be awesome. You're awesome just by showing up in your own awesome, imperfect skin. Bam. Awesome.
Now, read that last paragraph again. It's important.
We forget that. I know I do. It's easy to, even without someone else constantly dragging us down. There's that little voice inside that whispers our mistakes, our doubts, our fears. That voice tells us that it's all true: we are less than. We aren't talented. We aren't successful. We aren't worth it. We aren't awesome.
That voice is wrong. Dead wrong. But it can be loud. And it is persistent as hell if we don't constantly work to keep it gagged, to drown it out with our own amazingness, with our own self-confidence, and with a chorus of friends who are there to shut that bastard down when we lose the ability to do so ourselves.
I promise this: if you come to me, for whatever reason, I will always tell you how awesome you are. I will tell that voice inside you to shut the hell up, and I will tell you exactly what you deserve. Because I've been there. I've been lost and convinced I was less than. I don't want anyone else to get stuck in that same space.
I'm pretty awesome (even on the days I don't feel like it).
And so are you.