I made shrinking myself a habit because it was safer than showing up fully.
I shared earlier this week on IG that I spent years abandoning myself and calling it love. Unlearning this would take me years of practice while sorting through shame, guilt, and uncertainty.
Growing up, I saw the women in my family leave themselves behind. I saw them carry the world on their backs even when they were worn down, exhausted, and broken. All while hearing messaging like “…and you better be grateful.” Breaking that unhealthy cycle of overextending almost felt wrong. Selfish, even. But learning that I was worthy of choosing myself shifted how I showed up in the world and my relationships. It also showed the other women in my family that we don't have to abandon ourselves to love those around us.
Healing by example allows us to move in a way that liberates others. Choosing ourselves boldly and without shame is revolutionary. I am grateful that I'm learning to be a priority in my life.
Settling and people-pleasing kept me stuck in a life that disregarded my true self. I realized this way of being was directly connected with the fear of rejection and letting people down. Many of us were raised to shrink ourselves to keep the peace, to be cared for and loved—to be deemed good and agreeable.
I carried emotional baggage that did not belong to me for a long time. That's what happens when we play small. We start to gather, swallow, and hoard emotions, energy, and habits that were never ours to carry in the first place. When I learned how to pack light (shout out to Erykah Badu), I stopped choosing self-neglect and started making decisions that reflected my true worth and self.
Untethering from being who others wanted me to be was an undertaking, but I did it. I broke free—and I am so grateful.
As I stepped deeper into my healing, I realized that I made shrinking myself a habit because it was safer than showing up fully. Letting this go took a lot of trial, error, and patience. When you don't have anyone showing you the way, self-choosing and self-love can feel like a game—one that you'll never win. But staying committed and courageous will pay off, even through small steps.
Baby steps are still steps. Pace yourself.
Choosing myself is now a daily ritual. Through each ebb and flow that I face, I remember how blessed I am. I’ve made peace with that fact that there will be moments when I’ll have to be my first, and sometimes my only, option. Rejecting myself to gain the acceptance of others is no longer an option for me. Making the very intentional decision to count myself in is completely connected to how I heal. It took me awhile to trust and believe that I mattered and could advocate for myself. It took a lot of self-abandonment along the way to realize that I didn't want to do that anymore.
One of the biggest lessons I'm grateful for is this: I do not have to "stick it out" and play small. I’ve learned that that only leads to further self-sabotage, emotional exhaustion, and misery. No more.
Self-choosing has taught me that there's a time to leave and a time stay to stay. It's different for everyone, and both can feel tremendously hard. But deprioritizing myself is no longer an option, no matter how difficult standing up and walking away is.
Choosing ourselves is not selfish or arrogant. It's a sacred and beautiful act that requires us to practice prioritizing ourselves in a healthy way. Self-choosing doesn’t mean we won’t choose others. It means I choose me, too. I’m worthy, too. I can be and accept my true and full self, too. Do not second guess the power it has as you heal, change, and grow.
Community Question (leave a comment): How are you choosing yourself in this season of your life? How does it feel?
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