Comments 20

On Cutting Ourselves a Break:


Recently I took a trip home to New Hampshire. Usually, trips home are filled with a mix of excitement and nostalgia. This time, I knew the trip would have a different meaning. I left New York for four days with hopes of gaining a little clarity on what exactly it means for me to be a twenty-five-year-old living in New York City in 2013. That sentence alone is a lot to digest.

Any part of that sentence is a lot to take in, actually.

New York City.

Holy cannoli.

When I begin to take other things into consideration, like relationships, friendships, big career moves, late nights, early mornings, paychecks, student loans, cable bills, electricity, physical health, mental health, and the fact that some days I forget to brush my hair and then I wonder if people will notice that I didn’t brush my hair or maybe they’ll think I have that cute endearing “messy hair” thing going on…Well it all begins to pile up.

That was a really long run on sentence, which is quite reflective of how I’ve been feeling lately.

And also, it’s definitely not the whole cute, endearing, “messy hair” thing.

People are PROBABLY thinking…Girlfriend needs to hit up Walgreens where a brush only costs like…$7.00.

It dawned on me recently that people speak often about creating a life of lasting happiness, yet they’ll endure an awful lot to stay unhappy, all with the fear that something better may never come along. It’s such a backward way of thinking, and I am so guilty of it. I am the biggest offender.

What would happen if we just cut ourselves a break?

During my trip home, I had a conversation about a recent event I had attended. Jokingly, I said the words: “I’m not going to lie, I looked FOXY!”

It was said in a playful tone, but the reaction I received was a mix of disbelief and judgment.

I defended my claim (because that night I was wearing a dress so elegant and expensive, I had to RENT it. It was admittedly safety pinned to my bra.) Rarely am I ever in a situation so fancy that I actually have to safety pin myself in. It was a proud moment.

And I WAS proud, I was proud that I had the self-esteem to admit that I looked and felt amazing. However, I was treated as if believing that for one night out of the ENTIRE year I looked show-stoppingly attractive somehow made me a terrible person.

What would happen if we just, you know, stopped pressuring ourselves to have our crap together ALL the time?  What if we took five minutes to admire the work that we’re doing, or the way that we look, or the hurdles we’ve overcome to get where we are now. Somewhere along the way we have been programed to believe that we are not enough. We must be more. We must be more attractive. We must be more successful. We must be more intelligent. We must be more ambitious.

What if we complimented ourselves? Try it. I feels really good. I’m a great writer. I rock at surprising people. I really like my big green eyes and the little ring of yellow in them. I LIKE that I’d rather wear combat boots or converse sneakers than stilettos most days. I’m witty. I have a lot to offer the world. Some doors in my life may be closing and others will be opening and that’s perfectly okay.

What if we accepted our flaws and our vices? I’m impatient. I’m hard on myself. I don’t know when to walk away.  I’m bad at math. I talk a lot. My laugh is obnoxiously loud. I’m clumsy. I perpetually spill things on myself, and on the floor, and on those around me. I bury myself in my work. I make mistakes. Sometimes I make things more difficult for myself. I forget to eat breakfast a lot.

What if we forgave ourselves? I mean, REALLY forgave ourselves. Let’s do it. Let’s forgive ourselves for the moments when it’s really hard to love somebody else. Let’s not expect ourselves to always be able to love perfectly.

Hell, let’s not expect ourselves to EVER love perfectly.

What are some of your answers to these what ifs? How might your life change if you decided to actively cut yourself a break? When you have a moment, think about a few of these things in relation to your own lives.

I hope, every day, you find time to be kind to yourself.

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  1. What a great post, Carley! I’ve missed your posts! It’ such a huge part of our culture to be hard on ourselves….but we must be oh so gentle with others. If we admit that we are great, what happens when we fail? I have found that in my late 20’s it has been much easier to feel good about my work, my looks, and my life ‘progress’, but, old habits die hard. I tend to minimize myself a ton around others, and I’m SUPER guilty of comparing myself to women my age.

    • Thank you, Tobi! Nice to see you’ve stuck around, even when I was a little bit absent! I think comparison is a human condition. We are always comparing ourselves to others, to our former selves, who we want to be someday, instead of appreciating where we are and accepting who we are. Thanks for reading!

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  3. Wow, this is beautiful. First, I’m sure you did look foxy! And second, I think in terms of compliments, it’s so important to give voice to those things. It’s like we’re aloud to talk about our weaknesses forever, but even though we know what’s great about ourselves, saying it feels wrong. And yes…it’s nice to acknowledge the flaws too…start eradicating that idea of perfection.

    Thanks for the lovely post, you great writer.

    • Thanks so much for your kind words, Clair! It’s so true, I think culturally we’re so quick to identify things we should be working on or things we should be trying harder at, but we’re almost embarrassed to discuss what we’re doing right! Acknowledging and accepting flaws is so important, but even more important not to dwell on them!


  4. I totally agree with this! I think we are often too hard on ourselves and feel ashamed of being happy or proud. Um. . . What! Stuff that – I am going to be happy and proud of myself and celebrate the things I like and be ok with the things I don’t.
    You are a great writer! And I have no doubt you looked foxy 🙂

  5. This was exactly something I needed to hear. Something great and wonderful and expressed way more eloquently than I could express it at the moment. Congrats on the milestone as well, 25 isn’t so bad – after all, look at what you’re already setting out to do?

  6. This is something I can strongly relate to (right on down to the going home to New Hampshire part!). When I’m here in the city, I tend to get really caught up in all the minutiae of life… All the details that aren’t going as perfectly as planned and such.

    Then, I go back to NH and start filling people in about my life here, and tend to focus on the positive bits and that’s often met with criticism and judgement. Why? I don’t know. Maybe people assume that the mundane details of life are more glamorous when Manhattan’s the backdrop? Maybe they’re jealous?

    But it only serves to reinforce the fact that I love my life here in the city. That even with the cockroaches and rats, I’ve found my place in the universe.

  7. Love this post! Very thought provoking — and it’s so true. Why are we always so hard on ourselves? Usually people are the first to put themselves down, regret what they haven’t accomplished yet, or in general just have a negative self opinion of themselves. This post reminded me to stand tall, proud, and don’t be afraid of saying ‘hey, I’m doing pretty damn good’ every now and then! 🙂

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  9. Yeah, dang it. Own stuff about things you are actually good at. I go that self depreciating route a lot and I should just allow myself to take a compliment every once in a while.

  10. Who are these people who judged you for calling yourself foxy??? Get new friends, mon cherie! My friends are totally used to be bursting out “I’m so pretty” at the slightest drop of the hat. I wear sweatpants and they judge me for that, but then I’m like “but I still look hot” and they just chuckle at my lack of grace, but constant self-esteem (about my looks at the very least.)

  11. I am trying so hard to be kind to myself that it kind of feels like a huge burden right now. But I know what you are saying…. if YOU look amazing! Darling… just go right ahead and state it as it is! Somedays I wake up feeling on top of the world, I laugh, giggle, flirt and generally just make a fool out of myself if that’s what I feel like. Somedays (like today) I feel like I am a 100 and I need to slow down and take care of myself … lol. Very very nice post 🙂 loved it!!!!

  12. Carley, it’s been a long while. I’m happy you are still writing! I need to catch up with all your blogs I have missed…I was just asked to give some advice to a girl I have known since she was four who is now graduating from high school…one of the things I told her was to be kind, even when it is hard. I hope she knows I mean even to herself. Life is way too short (you will realize, the older you get) to waste on anything miserable- though sometimes we have to go through some misery to get to something better, to remain indefinitely in that place is a total waste of a limited resource- your life. I admire how aware you are, at such a young age. Roll with it!

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