I recently wrote an article called How To Love Yourself When You Don’t Know How To Be Loved in response to another beautiful article called How To Love A Girl Who Doesn’t Know How To Be Loved.
Both of these articles were very popular at the time, with many likes and comments.
One comment, however, baffled me and has been stuck on loop in my mind ever since… How are we hard to love?
The answer is, I don’t know.
I don’t know why some girl, a complete stranger, walked up to me when I was 14 and said, “Bitch. I bet you think your shit doesn’t stink.”
I don’t know why a friend of a friend commented on a recent Facebook post that she didn’t like me when we first met but that now she does. I don’t know why a colleague felt free to tell me I was a “square peg in a round hole” and I should consider a career change.
I don’t know why I have been told I am difficult to get to know.
I don’t know what makes some people instantly like-able and others summarily outcast.
I don’t know all these things about how the world outside of me operates, but I do know some things about myself.
I know that I am an introvert.
While there has been a lot written recently about understanding introverts, many of us still bear the bruises of it not having been a “thing” for most of our lives. I know that I often ignore social niceties as being boring. I know that I retreat from large groups. I know that I withdraw when I feel overwhelmed.
I know that I am mildly sensory defensive.
This means I can react to strong smells, loud sounds, synthetic materials, things like that. What it meant as a baby was that I was not a huge fan on being held by my father, a hairy man with a big beard. Nor did I like the lovely woolen sheepskin rugs my mother got especially for me to lie on. I know that I was a very fussy eater. I know that I then grew up being told I was “difficult” and that label is pretty well entrenched in my self-belief.
I know that I am reasonably intelligent, with a logical mind that does not enjoy inaccuracies or winding paths. I know that I can often see the big picture of things and get bored with details and long discussions. While details do no interest me, I can see inaccuracies or problems from a mile away and seek to fix them.
Along with this, I am opinionated. I have beliefs about things that I have no expectation or need for others to share, but I also have no compunctions about stating my thoughts.
I also know something else. Knowing and writing about these things does not mean I don’t like them in myself. Nor am I overly attached to them. They just are. Not indelibly or inflexibly, but for at least a large part of my life, these things have been integral to who I am.
I value all of these attributes as part of who I am and I experience that everyone else does not equally appreciate these traits.
So, here’s something more I don’t know, but wonder about. Is there a difference between self-esteem and self-confidence?
What I mean by that is, can we accept and even like aspects of ourselves while not being at all confident that other people like or accept those same things?
The first spiritual or personal development go-to for any life or relationship issue seems to be, “you have to love yourself first.” But what if you already do? In a “normal, some bits more than others, good days and bad days” kind of way.
I think this is most common for introverts—we are actually comfortable in our own skin, in and of ourselves—it is just that pesky interaction thing we have trouble with!
If anything, the spiritual work I have been doing has made me more secure in liking myself, less likely to adapt my behavior to suit others and more determined in being my own person.
I do not find myself prickly, judgmental or closed off. I am more than familiar with the dark corners of my soul—well, there are a few I am still hiding from myself, but overall, in my head, I am an open book.
My opinions, to me, are just opinions—firmly held, but not expected to be agreed with or to sway the world. When I express them, my internal assumption is that I am just stating my opinion as it is True for me, not passing judgment on any other way of being.
So then there is the temptation to write off other peoples’ reactions to me as their problem. And on one hand, it is their problem—their judgment, their reaction and I am not responsible for that. On the other hand, this is a recurring pattern for me, so there is a learning for me to take.
How much do we adapt ourselves to meet the external world? I don’t know. To what extent is it ok to hide away and be a content recluse? I don’t know. Should I adapt myself in order to connect with others? I don’t know. Why hasn’t “becoming spiritual” solved this for me? I don’t know. How can so many people feel the same way and yet we all feel so isolated? I don’t know.
So I am sorry that one small article has not solved the question of how some of us are hard to love.
Maybe we are perfect just the way we are and we are not supposed to be part of the “easy to love” crowd.
Maybe it is ok if we like ourselves enough.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Emily Bartran