Happiness is generally believed to be reserved for those who are in love. Here’s what happened when I began to love myself.
I was living in Paris at 19 years old, I was discovering the world outside of my small-town Texan upbringing, and I was dealing with my second bout of existential self-doubt. If you’ve been through that before, or you’re in it now, I feel your pain.
I found myself very alone even among friends. There was nothing rational about it except I was feeling the incredible power of human separation that so many of us feel on a daily basis… and I was feeling it deeply.
I had friends, I had family, I had a phone line that reached round the world… but I FELT alone and out of my depth.
It was my blue period. And a lot of beauty came from that period, after I realized how beautiful it was.
I felt my most melancholic in many of the most inspiring corners of Paris. Because I was studying abroad, I had a pass to visit the Musee D’Orsay and Rodin’s Gardens as often as I wanted. I found dusty old corners of the American Library and I lived 1,000 lives through those books.
It was about this time that I discovered Michel de Montaigne and his Essays. A single line changed my life… “Be a Crowd Unto Thyself.”
Up until that point in my life I thought I needed other people to like me in order to like myself. I suppose intellectually I knew it was unhealthy to make my self-worth dependent on the perception of others, but I wasn’t embodying self-love authentically yet.
Through a bit of this wisdom and the coaxing of adventure (I walked the Loire Valley, which you should do if you ever get the chance), I emerged from my blue period to discover that the mask I’d been wearing of “the perfect gentleman” and “the prodigal son” and “the model big brother” were holding me back from having deeper relationships with women, my family, and my friends.
And really, the relationship I was missing the most was with myself.
So I began learning to love myself. I took myself to movies, I wrote daily in a journal to see what I really cared about, I began to respect my body with better nutrition and exercise… and I began to emerge into an appreciation of what I really am lovable for… it’s not about awards and titles and grades.
I’m lovable because I love – because I see beauty and recognize truth.
I don’t need to prove anything. I don’t need to know why. I just need to be me. I’m good enough as I am.
Carrying that home with me – I need support for my goals and to hold me accountable and to provide a mirror… but mainly I find that I have all of the beauty and wisdom I need inside of myself. I just need practice accessing it.
This simple shift… being able to be a crowd unto myself… has opened me up to doing the best and most purposeful work of my life. I now have a 7-year relationship with my soul’s partner. I am surrounded by people I love who really see me and support me. I get to show up 100% in my life. Is it still work? Sure. But it’s fun now… and not quite so alone.
How have you dealt with feeling alone? What have you overcome?
Let me know in the comments below, and if you want to go deeper into this I encourage you to tap into my new program for men who are looking to make a big leap from isolated and stagnant to connected and purposeful. We start on Monday. Connect with me for more information.