This Valentine’s Day, in honour of all things lovey-dovey, Team Octothorpe are writing a collection of love letters to ourselves under the tag #GLAmour.
We cried yesterday. We heard some truths that we needed to hear, and we finally learned to listen.
How strange it is to hear someone who knows you so intimately tell you outright that they fear for your soft and open heart; that they worry that the world will walk over someone so willing to allow it. That they have watched you make yourself small for long enough.
We have lost our way, dear friend. This is the eighth Valentine’s Day in a row that we have been partnered. We are remarkably good at being in love, spectacular at adoring others. We build pedestals for everyone and stand in the shadows they cast. We see so much good in those we love, and yet none in ourself.
Francette wrote about Imposter Syndrome recently and you thought to yourself that maybe you didn’t have it after all, and maybe you really just see yourself for what you are, all tangled up and pretending to be a braid.
May we learn to undo these knots in our being.
We have overcome a lot. We have lived a life so widespread and far-flung that almost every year is marked by a different doorstep. We have learned to invent and reinvent ourselves for each new place, each new life. Nobody believes us that we are Type-A introverts, because we seem “so calm”, “so confident”. Are we really? Perhaps we’re better at acting than our A Level in Drama suggested. The girl who read as many books as she ate meals feels very far away now. The girl who scuba dived in Egypt without a thought for the 30 metres of crushing blue weight above her feels as distant as the Sinai mountains.
But just as alien as those Jasmins are, so is the one who wanted to disappear.
We have come so far, and we have changed almost beyond recognition. And yet change is to life as salt is to the ocean; inseparable and essential.
We no longer have a soulmate-sister-best friend. We have left behind many people. We have been hurt and betrayed by people whose job was to protect us, but now we protect ourself, we are strong. We have good, true friendships that uplift us. We are referred to with words like “sunshine”, “kind”, “gentle”, and because of this I am proud of you.
We no longer fit into size 10 jeans, but we look at our body with a new respect and companionship. We appreciate how hard it has to work to house us, and we have learned to forgive it for its wide hips, its soft stomach, its daily pain. We no longer wish we were white, or blonde, or skinny. We simply appreciate our own beauty. For this I am grateful to you.
We have not fulfilled our potential. We could have gone further than we have. That’s just fact: we don’t like to be a tall poppy. We don’t like to stand out too much. But we have a job that involves using our words and learning new skills, and we never dreamed this opportunity would become real. Because of this I am excited for your future.
We are learning about our flaws and it is teaching us humility. We are learning to talk less and listen more (we’re trying, at least). We are learning to navigate our jealous hearts, our need for approval, our tendencies to hold our frustrations in. I am encouraged by our dedication to becoming better.
We spent many years being told that we were living a life that was too wild. We tried to tame ourselves, but we have learned that the path we have chosen is the right one for us. We didn’t choose an easy one, that’s for certain; we chose a difficult degree and to learn a second language on top of all that, we chose to follow our wandering heart and we know that it will cost us a lot of comfort. For this I cheer you on.
We are doing our very best, and our intentions are pure. We are trying our hardest to be our best self. So here we are, standing on two feet and staring straight ahead. We’re not so bad, really. I kind of like ya.