Being back on the dating scene is an absolute nightmare of an experience. So I decided to season it to taste with a little social experimenting.
Everywhere, everyone is proclaiming self care, self love, evolution of consciousness, seeking spiritual alignment, love for crystals, music by Jhene’ Aiko, and Erykah Badu vibes. Everyone I know, and don’t, is proclaiming to be working on themselves. At first, in my naiveté, I thought people were telling the truth. All they had to do was show me some crystals and a few vaguely deep quotes, maybe a book or two and I was convinced, that person must be on to something. *insert eye roll.
*Side note* You know, a few months ago I was ashamed of being naïve. I viewed it as a negative trait until I actually started do my own self work. I’ve come to realize that a big part of me being so blissfully unaware of other people’s bullshit, is because I live by my own moral code. Coincidentally, my code is void of the need to unnecessarily lie to people about trivial shit. It also has a major focus on minding my own business and the business that pays me. On general principle I try my damndest to live a pretty honest straight forward existence, with the exception of the occasional white lie, and lies of omission. Because I tend to stick to my own lane, and live as close to my authentic self as I possibly can, I’ve managed to avoid a lot of the crap most people my age have been subjected to. Some may see that as a negative. I’m choosing to see my position as a positive. I digress.
When I first began my journey, you could have spoon fed me any sort of shit about working on yourself because I had no clue what that entailed for sure. I’ve come to learn that most of the people I spoke with about this topic didn’t know either. At first the proclamation sounded so adult, so lofty, so self aware, that I really didn’t ask many follow up questions. I’m willfully naive, remember? It wasn’t until I reached a new level of my spiritual awakening this year that I actually needed to start working on myself. The real version. Embarking upon this painful, empowering, fulfilling, exhausting, illuminating, perception shattering, journey, I realized that self work means you are actively doing work, on yourself. Who knew?
So. Inquisitive as I am. And petty, more petty, really. I went back to some of the people I had been speaking with who told me they were doing self work. I asked them what they were doing. To be fair, when I first started asking, I was genuinely trying to find answers from people who sold themselves to be so evolved and working towards self improvement. These people were highly opinionated about identifying toxic patterns in others and exalting themselves because of their spiritual superiority. THEY were working on themselves. So surely they could help me, right? Again, I cannot side eye hard enough…
Here are a few of the responses I got:
- Oh, I’m taking time to figure out who I am. (OOOOKKKAAAYYY but what does that mean? This was usually left unanswered)
- I’m taking time away from dating for a little bit so I can find myself. (As they were telling me about being on dating apps still)
- I’m protecting my energy. <<<<<<< Personal fave!
- I bought some super big crystals that I wear on my neck while I post Kevin Gate lyrics as captions on IG. (This wasn’t so much verbalized, as it was observed while doing research)
- I’m reading such and such book by such and such. “Oh cool, what’s it about? How are you liking it?” (Usually I was told they haven’t started reading it because they are so busy.)
So the general consensus for me is that most people I have come across say, they are working on themselves but in reality, it’s just the new excuse to get out of having to take accountability for themselves or explain why they are still single.
In my journey of actually working on myself, I can tell you these are some of the processes that are involved in doing the work.
- Taking self inventory – When I first got serious about working on myself, I had to first identify what I felt needed to be worked on. Like taking your car to the shop, the mechanic needs to know what’s broken so they know what to fix.
- Create an action plan – Once I identified my areas for improvement, I went straight to Google and started searching for resources. Emotional intelligence was one of the items on my list so, that’s what I searched. It pulled up a bunch of different articles and approaches to working on emotional intelligence. I went down my list figuring out what books, videos, exercises I could start working with.
- YouTube – All of that lead me to YouTube where I hit the self work jackpot. I started with the most pressing issue on my self work journey which was growing from a broken heart. I’ve come to find out, most people who are seriously working on themselves, saw the need to do so after they experienced a truly life altering event where they were on the receiving end of a raw deal. Things like death of a loved one, break up, divorce, job loss, etc.
- Solitude – Being alone and getting lonely, I mean REALLY lonely, is therapy like none other. I couldn’t have seen myself in any better light than when I was truly lonely. There’s a clarity there that you can’t get any other way.
- Self help books – I have always been an avid reader but oh boy! Once I went through the first four steps and realized exactly how much love I needed to pour back into myself, I turned into a book thirsty maniac. I’m currently reading “What doesn’t kill us” by Stephen Joseph. It’s about the psychology of posttraumatic growth. Stephen theorizes that some people are severely impacted by PTSD to the point of disability for the long term. But, the majority of people identify more intensely with PTSD immediately after a traumatic event, and only for a short period of time. He postulates that over time, most people use their traumatic experience to alter their lives in positive and soul affirming ways. I definitely recommend, if you’re interested in learning ways to turn personal tragedy into triumph.
- Practice – Self work is done at home. Reading books. Watching YouTube. Self growth is applying what you’ve learned to your everyday life. This involves breaking negative patterns as triggers arise.
- THERAPY! Nuff said.
Everyone’s journey to self discovery is different and personal. But, you actually have to be doing work, to consider it so.
No shade to any of the people who haven’t made it off the front porch to their own enlightenment. Hell, my best friend will be the first to tell you, just four short years ago I was screaming at the front of the bus that I wanted to stay sleep. Because when you wake up you actually have to do something about the things you see. I get it. Staying blind to your shit is easier than tackling your issues head on if you aren’t prepared for the process.
But I assure you, once you take your first steps you won’t regret it. Sure. You’ll cry a lot. You will vacillate on decisions. You will doubt yourself. You will have to deal with and feel all the pain you have been holding on to. But, the rewards are exponentially greater and more long lasting than the temporary discomfort. Your brand new boundaries, elevated self esteem, solid sense of self worth, sky rocketing confidence, etc. will have you glowing like a shiny new penny.
In the meantime, if you are one of the people who like to pretend to be working on yourself, please do the rest of us a favor and save the tired, regurgitated, uninspired pick up lines for the rest of the passengers on your bus of self delusion. It’s offensive to pretend to be doing the work the rest of us are actually doing. Besides, because we are doing the work, we can spot you from a mile off. I’m here to tell you since the rest of the growing flowers out here are too nice to call you out, you’re embarrassing yourself sweetie.