I have a sticker on my laptop that says, “Be An Encourager.”
I see it nearly every day. It’s the perfect reminder for who I want to be right now. I have been working on myself wholeheartedly since this spring. I made a conscious decision to be a better person. Well, scratch that. Perhaps, I acted with intent to strip away the years of negative self-talk, gossip, failed friendships, daggers in the back, and held-in bitterness that harbored so much hatred and hurt in my heart to reveal the person I have always been and have always wanted to be.
As my dance instructor stated today, “You are in charge of your own authority.” What she meant by this is that I have the right, the option, the privilege, the courage, and the power to be in charge of my own life. My faith and the amazing people in my life feed me love and support and strength, yes, but I am making decisions for me. Honestly, I don’t believe that I am changing who I am. I’m just becoming a more true version of myself. This true version of myself includes empowering others to live better and more true lives by making my own life a labor of love and choosing to remove toxicity from my mind/heart/soul/life.
• • • On being encouraging • • •
Whenever I’m asked what my biggest pet peeve is, I answer: “when people are fake.” My favorite word will always be authenticity and I see it as a core value to who I am as a person. However, I want to be an encourager. I want to support my friends, my family, women I barely know, people I don’t know, and anyone in between.
So here I am – balancing my authentic feelings and thoughts and brokenness and healing and awesomeness and magic and beauty and emotions and mishaps with my love for people and the feeling that my purpose in life is to make others’ lives better. I will never be fake. My support, my love, my encouragement will never be fake. I have a lot of love to give. I may not comment on all your posts or message you every day or be able to provide the perfect advice… but when I feel it, you’ll know that I felt it. Support doesn’t need to be seen. It needs to be felt.
How can I encourage others? How can I make others feel loved, supported, valued, and worthy? How can I make someone else smile?
How can you?
• • • On removing toxicity • • •
Now, let’s switch to the flip side. Since I have begun encouraging others openly and vocally, I have concurrently found myself attempting to remove toxicity from my life. That may be physically removing people from my life, quitting negative habits, or finally deciding to unfriend/unfollow certain accounts on social media. Honestly, the social media accounts took a long time. I would look at these accounts to stay ‘in the loop’ because I hated to be uninformed. I saw knowledge as power and power was necessary for me to maintain my hard armor shell that protects my soft and easily-hurt heart. Deep down, however, I knew that this was unhealthy behavior. It didn’t help. It didn’t protect me. It didn’t give me power. It made me hurt, it made me weak, it made me angry, bitter, jealous, and resentful.
I find it hard to balance caring so much about people (not wanting to hurt others’ feelings) and not caring what other people think (because I value myself and believe that some things are truly toxic for my own mental health.) This mental gymnastics is really hard. I wasn’t giving myself authority. Those people and my allowance for them to continue to be in my life was toxic. It was time to let go.
I finally committed to myself and made those decisions to remove myself from toxic situations. I had someone ask me today, “Do you hate _______?” after knowing that this person and I had crossed paths negatively around a year ago. He asked this question in case we would all be mingling in the same group this week for homecoming celebrations. My response was simple… “I feel that that scenario would be toxic for my mental health and I’m not going to choose to put myself in that situation, but I’ll see you around!” I am putting myself first. I am putting my mental health first. Maybe that’s selfish to some… but it’s also self-love. I don’t need to speak negatively about that person or continue to be held up on negative experiences. Sometimes the mature thing is not to make a choice between forgive and forget, but to simply acknowledge that it happened and that you don’t need to place yourself in that situation or any situation that makes you uncomfortable.
In removing toxicity, I am being my own encourager. It’s okay if other people do not understand that.
• • • On where I am • • •
So that’s where I am. And I’m okay with that. I do not need to let the negative things weigh on my heart when I can simply acknowledge the existence and learn to live and breathe through them. I am currently trying to live and breathe and pray and work through my heartbreaks and to encourage others that they can do the same. I am being my own encourager by removing the roadblocks of negativity and toxicity that stand in my way. I am creating a life I love and learning to fulfill my purpose. I am staying true to who I am and discovering new things about myself every day. I am still a work in progress; an imperfect girl loved by a totally perfect God.
So, today and every day: I challenge you to encourage others but do not forget to encourage yourself and make ‘selfish’ decisions that benefit your heart, soul, and mind.