She put her hands to her face and leaned over her legs, whispering with tears in her eyes, “I’m the most unlovable person in the world.”
After last night’s episode of the Bachelor, a show I’ve become unapologetically a fan of (with an emphasis on the punchline “but I watch it because it’s stupid”), I felt I needed to say something.
The show is notorious for enhancing the insecurities of twenty women who are simultaneously dating one guy. And I’ve realized over time that the show never has to create the insecurities; they’re already there, festering beneath a full face of makeup and a beautiful body, waiting to be magnified by drama, dysfunction, and many, many tears.
Maybe I have the Walmart-syndrome, aka the Bachelor syndrome (when you see a walking disaster and subconsciously think, “Thank god I’m not like that”), which would state that I’m watching to promote, to indulge in, my own self-security and confidence.
But overtime my perspective has shifted, and especially after last night, I realize the Bachelor has become an accurate portrayal of when our insecurities get the best of us and we fall apart.
I wish I could give the woman who said she was the most unlovable girl in the world the biggest hug. She’s just a few years older than I am, and I don’t know her story, but I’m assuming, like every girl on the show, went on the Bachelor to find love. To find restoration for an already broken soul.
Last week this girl shared part of her story with the handsome bachelor, and from the brief details she gave, she’s endured a hard life. I don’t remember the details, but I remember her emotion.
And maybe the show overdramatized her story, who really knows what this show does. But I think I’m too quick to forget that these are real people, and that the pain their hearts feel, no matter how dramatic and “ridiculous” it seems, is real.
I guess the thing is, what do you say when someone believes they’re the most unlovable person in the world? They’ve convinced themselves that the lie they’ve believed for years, that they are unlovable and unworthy and not enough, is the truth. And when you shower them with compliments, like handsome bachelor did, they begin to smile again. They begin to maybe, just maybe, believe it.
Only for their smile and heart to drop instantly when they don’t receive the group date rose.
And they fall into the cycle all over again.
Last night I wished I had a megaphone, not just for the woman who believes she is unlovable, but for the people in this world who have convinced themselves that their worth is an unstable reality in the hands of people just as messy as the rest of us.
So I wanted to write you something.
I can’t really say anything to her, but I have a tiny space in the corner of the Internet, and I can speak into that. So this letter, honestly, isn’t really for her. It’s for you.
/ / /
You’re okay. You’re okay with where you’re at; you’re here, you got up, you’re still taking steps. You’re the furthest thing from being okay, but it’s okay you don’t feel okay.
You’re not supposed to have this all figured out. The mistakes you’ve made and the failures that endlessly define you don’t have to be your name. They don’t have to haunt you like ghosts and they don’t have to be dragged around like baggage. You don’t have to be named Insecure or Lonely or Depressed or Angsty.
Start believing the truth about yourself, even though you don’t feel like believing it. I think sometimes we get caught up in thinking that if we don’t think it’s true, we’re not going to believe it in general. But you’ve been telling yourself the same lies for so many years, and you’ve been playing the same old tune for so long that you’ve begun to believe those things as the truth when in reality they were never the truth. You just made it your truth.
But the truth sets us free, and the truth about you is that you are worthy of good things, that you are enough, not because of the good things you’ve done or the bad things you’ve done, but because that is the innate foundation of your being. You were created worthy and loved.
And you are vastly important and greatly celebrated and cherished, but your legs were never created to balance on a pedestal of perfection and high expectations and standards.
The pedestal of good enough, attractive enough, entertaining enough, worth enough, will collapse under your feet the minute you step onto it.
You weren’t created to live up there. Learn to not take yourself so seriously.
And I want you to know I support you. I believe in coffee dates and telling your stories of boys who broke your heart. I believe in crying over the cards you’ve been dealt and talking to people who are going to nurture your heart back to health. I believe in allowing yourself to grieve, to sometimes overthink, to sometimes just be human.
But I think it’s safe to say I know you too well because if we’re anything alike, then I know this: You’ve exhausted every outlet of happiness and you’re running around in never-ending circles, looking for the next quick fix for your heart. The next distraction. And you’re lying to yourself more than anyone else that everything’s okay, when in reality your foundation is about to crumble and the house you’ve built for yourself is about to go up in flames. And what you’re soon going to realize is that house was never filled anyway; it was always empty, you just spent too much time fixing-up the outside and editing your caption on Instagram to notice how empty you had become.
Someone or something has come into your house and started removing the furniture and tearing the wallpaper off the walls, and your distractions are keeping you focused on the exterior of the house, all the while everyone around you can see your junk in your yard and you swear it’s not yours.
Forget “haters gonna hate” and just stop hating on yourself for being not enough.
We all hide our messiness and say we’re fine and believe it, but we never admit that the greatest lie of this generation is “I’m good.”
And some days we may be doing just fine (gotta, gotta be down bc I want it all…), and things may feel really good in that moment, but that doesn’t mean the problem has gone away. Something’s still not okay, and you know it’s somewhere inside of you, but you may not be willing to admit it.
The first step is honestly admitting you’re not okay. And being okay with that. And being okay with having to sit in the ash of who you are for a while. And just deal with your shit.
Until one day, when you can stand up and see someone in the distance rebuilding your foundation, brick by brick, so that you will stand firm. That’s when everything will start feeling like it’s coming together.
But until then, tell your story.
You have a voice that is meant to be used to tell your stories of dysfunction and broken hearts and “I’m not out of the woods yet but one day…”
I talked with someone the other day who didn’t think she had a story yet because she was still going through crap. I couldn’t wrap my mind around that because what she doesn’t realize is she is a living, breathing, walking story that has a beating heart and is relatable.
That’s the absolute best place you can be in, because as you become brave to say, “I don’t have this all together,” someone else is going to feel empowered to do the same.
The sad thing is we forget to really check up on people, to really look out for our people, because even when they say they’re fine, most of the time there’s a layer underneath that they’re wrestling with, no matter how deep, and it’s usually something they aren’t willing to admit to themselves.
You just have to get your eyes off yourself.
And we need the out of the woods stories. We need examples of people who have braved the waves, beacons of hope who now give breath to our lungs to keep going, to keep wrestling, to keep crawling. But we also need people who know what we’re going through because they themselves are going through it right now.
If you can’t walk, crawl. And if you can’t crawl, allow yourself the grace to admit you can’t keep going like this and reach out to someone. I promise, I promise, there’s someone in your circle of people who is going to step in and fiercely love you and walk with you as you emerge from the woods.
We were created for relationships and community. We were created to do life together. The one thing we weren’t created to do was to carry the baggage of other people, and love, you are not responsible for someone else’s baggage. You are not responsible if they continue to blaze a path into the woods. Your job is to see them and believe in them, to love them fervently and endure with them.
But you also must know when too much is enough. You must know when it’s beginning to destroy the foundation of who you are, if you’re trying to claim someone else’s baggage. I’ve talked a lot about staying because that’s what I’ve needed to learn. I run from problems; I am consistently carrying a lit match over the bridges of friendships because of fear of being rejected first and getting hurt.
Just like the girls on the Bachelor.
I’ve gotten too good at burning bridges, and I’m having to learn to force myself to sit through things, to endure, to not burn every bridge that looks like it’s not stable enough to carry my weight.
But I’m beginning to realize that sometimes, you need the courage to not stay. To pick up your things and move to a new place. To pave a new path on your way out of the woods, because there comes a point you need to realize you are not a baggage claim. You are not just someone other people can throw their problems onto and expect you to deal with it while they continue to hurt you and your friendship with them.
That’s when it’s no longer worth it. That’s when it’s no longer healthy to you.
We’re all a little messy, all a little dysfunctional, but when we try to put our dysfunction in the hands of someone who is equally dysfunctional, chaos will erupt and I think that’s why your walls are beginning to fall.
Can I ask you to do something for me?
Would you let the walls fall? Let them come falling down, and let your foundation be shaken, because I promise if your house is built on sand, it will not stay standing. You have a knuckle-white grip on your life, and you’re trying to keep things together but the pieces are beginning to fall through your fingertips and you’re starting to lose control. And you’re panicking.
Just let go, love.
Let go and fall into desperation for something greater, because you see that this isn’t working. That this isn’t the life you want or need, and it isn’t the life you have to stay in either. Be careful to not fall into depression, that’s where it’s going to get you. Desperation is different. It makes you seek harder. It makes you fight. It makes your very bones believe that there must be something better than this.
And a disclaimer, I don’t know what has hurt you and brought you to this point, so I know that there are certain situations that need to be addressed in a different light and a different tone. I know a quick letter on a blog can’t become a bandaid over your battle wounds. Be courageous to seek medical and professional help if that’s what’s needed to be done. I had to go into counseling last semester because of situational depression, and I’m still not in a place to talk about it. I still hurt when I think back to being at my old college last semester. But my reason in saying that is to encourage you, that as cliche as it sounds, there is no shame for seeking someone outside of your situation, someone who doesn’t know you at all, to deal with something a lot deeper than yourself.
For someone who has deeply struggled with feeling like the most unlovable person in the world, I know saying “you are loved” isn’t going to convince you. And that’s okay. We’re doing this thing called life together, and if that means I’m reminding you that you are loved, I rest easy knowing it’s helping me remember that I am too.
I have your back. And I’m going to fight this good fight with you.
Don’t go gentle into this night, but rage against the dying of the light. And hold on to the hope that the night is darkest just before the dawn, that the dawn is coming.
Not all hope is lost.
Inhale, exhale. Repeat.
Sending you much love and a lot of brave today.