What does loving yourself mean to you? Having the courage to forgive yourself? Doing what you love? That not everyone will love you and that’s okay? Loving yourself before loving someone else or expecting them to love you? Or is it understanding that the way you appear doesn’t make you any less attractive than anybody else? Every negative part of these questions have gone through my head over the past several years. Between a relationship with someone who doesn’t know how to love and being single in a city so full of beautiful people, I have had to ask myself each and every one of these things about myself.
Let’s start with forgiving yourself. Have you ever done something or been ashamed of something in your past that you haven’t ever been able to forget? I have. There are things that I have said to family members in a moment of weakness or anger that I wish I could take back. If I brought it up to them, they had either forgotten about it or wondered why I brought it up again. But I had to ask them for forgiveness for my own consciousness. Now, have you ever gone against your own morals and done something you think someone in your life will judge you for? Truth is, they will still love you for you and being honest with them will only make them love you more. If they walk away? You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. Those things that you’re ashamed of are all in your head. Forgive yourself for those moments and live where you are now in life. Most of the things holding you back are either unknown or forgotten by the people in your present. You are the only one holding yourself back and you need to let yourself be forgiven so that the walls you’ve built up will not prevent you from having strong relationships in the future. The walls I’ve built around myself are because of my past relationship and things that I said or did to make sure he still loved me, things I was ashamed of. I stepped past my own boundaries and morals to see if that would make him love me more or be more attracted to me, and I have had a hard time forgiving myself for those mistakes.
Moving on to doing what you love. Now, for some people doing what you love is more of a hobby than a career or a lifestyle. But if it ever comes down to the choice between doing what you love or submitting to someone else’s expectations that are put on you, what would you do? I can tell you right now that I chose the latter in a past relationship. Some people do that with significant others, sometimes a friend, sometimes their parents. Those are the people that they want to please. The plans those people have for you aren’t always what is going to make you happy. In my past relationship, my ex knew that I wanted to do something in film and possibly act on the side or something. I was still in college when I first started dating him and when he wanted to dive deeper into our relationship, I moved back home so we could be together instead of moving to LA. To anyone who asked, I would say I was putting one dream on hold to pursue another. But I should have moved to LA. Hindsight is 20-20. Once I moved home he tried to get me to pursue a different career so I could live anywhere rather than having to live in a specific location (LA) for a job. He suggested nursing, I chose massage therapy instead. That did not make me happy, but it made him happy that I had something else to make an income and now we could go wherever he wanted to live. It was always about him and what made him happy. So when I decided to move to LA on a whim, things fizzled very quickly, and I’m now here and single in a beautiful city that I love.
What you see in the mirror is not all people look at for attraction. Also, beauty is different from person to person. You must understand that not your weight, nor your hair color, nor your choice of clothing or the funny way your stomach rolls when you sit make you any less attractive. These are all things that we see in the mirror everyday and we are our own worst critics. Life is funny that way. I am beyond blessed to have friends who tell me I am beautiful almost every time I see them. They encourage me in ways that I cannot even fathom sometimes. I changed my hair color so many times to improve how I looked and now I just do it for fun! I would wear heels and dresses because I looked prettier and thought boys would notice me more, but when I decided I wasn’t comfortable in those clothes, I changed my style to what I am comfortable in. I love changing up my style just to see what I like on myself but I only do it for myself, no one else. I have struggled with the idea of being too fat for a very long time. I have never been skinny. The lowest number I remember seeing on a scale is 165. That was probably in high school. My weight has never been something that I am happy with and that’s another thing my ex tried to control in my life. That’s probably what made it so bad for me. As for stomach rolls, I’ve always had those. Even as a kid. Every girl does. It’s because our bodies are flexible and they bend and conform to the way we are bending it so that we aren’t uncomfortable. I’ve learned to love my body shape and know that I am working on being healthier rather than just skinnier. Everything I want to change about myself is just to make me healthier for my own mental stability and I’m not doing it for anyone else. Because if they can’t accept what I look like then they don’t deserve to know me past that. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life.
I’m sure you’ve heard people say that you need to love yourself before trying to love someone else or before they can love you. This is something that I really struggled with for a long time. I never felt like I deserved the love that other people had to offer. When someone tells me that they love me, I question it. Every single time. I don’t care how many times they’ve told me, it’s still a doubt I have in my mind. My ex said “I love you” first. I couldn’t say it back right away. It got caught in my throat. It didn’t make sense to me. Because I didn’t love me. I thought I was weird and didn’t fit in, I didn’t belong with someone who had their life so put together. I wasn’t worthy of being loved by him or anyone. I wasn’t as pretty as his ex girlfriend or as put together with my life. I didn’t know what I wanted in life or where I wanted to go. I was “lazy”. But once I moved away from the normalcy of what the midwest was, I found out that I am definitely weird, but I love that part of me. The people around me are weird and thrive in it. I don’t have my life together but people my age don’t really know what they’re doing either, that doesn’t mean we aren’t successful or won’t be in the future. Being lazy was a choice and I made the conscious choice to change that about myself and get out of the house and go to the gym and hang out with friends or get coffee or write stories, make the connections that got where I am today in my career choices and friendships. I was able to look at myself in the mirror and see the beauty that others always told me I have.I love the person I am becoming and who I am striving to be. I still have things that I struggle with from time to time, but I do love who I am and where I’ve found my worth. Because I am worthy of love. So are you.
Kelsey has been in a number of It's Personal shows, including the current show at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Check it out!
Weekly, I grieve.
Always the same. Sunday night. Around 7:30pm. I grieve.
I look at my love, making dinner. I look at my home, warm and comforting. I look at myself in the mirror, wearing only a men’s t-shirt and thick socks.
This is right. This is life! But this is a weekend. A thing, by design, meant to end. My heart weeps for Sunday, even while I’m in it. The end of Sunday means the beginning of Monday, and that means the dawn of a new week of work. The grind. I could wax poetic on the beauty of a weekend. The toil of the day job. But I have nothing but love for the day job.
I worked a day job when I first moved to LA. A job where I had to wear a uniform designed only for men and wear OSHA-compliant shoes. A job that paid me $10/hour to work in 112 degree heat. It was unglamorous. But steadfast, I showed up to work.
And as I look at my now OSHA-defiant footwear, at my very own desk, next to a phone with my name on it, I think…I am forever indebted to the universe for that day job.
My first day job led me to a day job that led me to a job that led me to the beginning of my career.
My first day job led me to a day job that led me to a job that led me to meet the man I love.
My first day job set in motion a chain of events that included officiating a friend’s wedding, finding my own apartment, planning for my future in a real way.
Everything I have right now is a product of where I was. But I don’t owe it to that day job. The day job didn’t give it to me. Everything I have right now, I owe to leaving my first day job.
So don’t do it. Don’t stay. Make the change. It’s worth it. Even if you don’t know what’s on the other side. Life is truly too short to stay in a uniform that requires orthopedic shoes. Because gosh! You might find yourself, four years later, in your own home, in love, in a t-shirt that says “Pizza Power”, eating broccolini. And it might very well be the best day of your life.
Anna Snedden strikes again! Check out her previous blog posts.
Ah, Craig S. List. My greatest friend. You’ve gotten me an apartment, a chair, two cars, and all of my jobs in the last three years. You’re always available, and sometimes reliable. You are a solid gamble.
The one time I could count on you, was the one time it really counted.
It’s 2016. I’m a girl from Iowa, fresh in the city. So fresh, I’m still believing every person that tells me they’re a producer. I’ve given out twenty business cards at this point. Taken the red line to Hollywood Blvd. a few times. I still think Santa Monica Pier is best beach spot. Some dude who said he used to be a viral youtuber tells me he’s now a headshot photographer. I pay him $100 for new headshots. I am killing.
I sign up for a casting service and start working background on a few jobs. Some dude I met hooked me up to work on set with AFI, so I’m stoked. Life is good. I decided I’d spend the first month auditioning.
May rolls around, and my savings are dwindling. It’s all good though because I don’t care about money and art is the only thing that matters. I am an artist scraping by in the noblest of ways, crazily responding to setbacks by speaking positive phrases in my head, each day getting closer to the hard truth: I am broke.
Hey, Craig. What’s up.
Within the week you get me a waitressing job in Studio City and now, three years later, I still have it. I hate the job and then I love it again. I’m grateful for it and then I scream at it, “F*ck you!” It’s a rollercoaster of curse words and appreciation, up and down and all over again. In this moment, I’ve decided I love it. I’ve met some of my best friends through it, and it keeps me grounded in reality. Floating into the clouds can be dangerous, so thank you, restaurant. Thank you, Craig. You remind me that I’m a piece of shit like everyone else. No, we’re not all pieces of shit. But no one is better than anyone else and you make that overtly apparent. Thank you.
My waitressing job has been the one consistent thing from the beginning. Jobs have come and gone, friends too, but you’ve always been there. I can take you or leave you. I can use you or avoid you. I take off my apron and forget about you. Of course, as artists, we’re all in the same boat trying to balance our career and then our other career. I guess I never wanted for it to be easy, to just pick the less hard thing to do. Maybe that’s not a good thing, cause maybe I’d be happier. But maybe it’s the best thing because I’m always looking for something more.
Truthfully, I thought this piece would turn out to be me ranting and joking about my piece of shit job and weird craigslist experiences, but I find more and more that the things that don’t bring you immediate joy are usually the most rewarding. So thanks, day job. Thanks, Craig. I’ve learned a lot from you.
I awaken for my day job.
Laying in bed
Between the sheets
My clock on repeat
Curling my feet across the bed
Lying up, sighing out loud
My painful eyes
Nobody said how bright the day would be
Now I see my fate
Time to make some money
Funny, how I was late relating to so many
Out there working for every penny
Sometimes at dawn, sometimes so far
Sometimes arriving with a good old sob
As I drive out for my day job.
I’m almost late for my day job.
Zero fucks given
Cut me off will you?
You knew I would relent
Going so far as venting your apathy
Shitty driving skills
How do you fill in the time,
By being such a malignant cancerous tumor?
You’re the reason why bluetooths were invented
You fucking shitty-ass guber
I know it’s not me
Pretty calm, benign
Just planning out my 9 to 5
Ignoring the constant whines
Coworkers glued eyes onto the time
I find my spirit pine for greener pastures
If only a rapture could take me away
To save my youth from being robbed
No longer pretending to be somebody I’m not
I proceed working for my day job.
I cope for my day job.
Downtime, lobbying for passions
Believing pursuit would be forbidden
Believing in stone written lives
Black, crass, tight tie-binds
Fear-laced gross buzzing flies
Hovering throughout our minds
Such lies deny and blind
Of a life outside of work
Shining light lurks
With dear friends arriving at every turn
Tending to our wounds
Sooner or later healing
From our hearts
Red glistening cells feeding
Off our love our bodies most often needing
So little of it left
Such a theft temps those who long for
A journey, a hidden meaning for living
Perhaps once that giant leap is taken
Consider faith forsaking
Destiny calling out to be answered
I wonder as I lay to sleep
If I were to ever notice the call
Luna’s gaze requires submission
With each night I sleep through
I realize with each passing day that I’ve now dropped into
I have transformed my dreams as my true day job.
Another awesome piece by It's Personal core-member, Andy Quintana.