On Fully Embracing Who You Are. AKA, Self-Love.

“Right now, can you make an unconditional relationship with yourself? Just at the height you are, the weight you are, with the intelligence you have, and with your current burden of pain. Can you enter in an unconditional relationship with that?”

This question, taken  from the video that’s buzzing around Facebook, was asked by Tracee Ellis Ross. And when I watched this video, I felt like she was talking directly to me…it hit my soul in a certain type of way. So now, I’m posing the question to you.

Can you be in an unconditional relationship with yourself?

I’ve been thinking about what this truly means. Thinking back, my grandmother was the first person to teach me about unconditional love. And no, not through example, even though, I know we both love each other unconditionally. I still remember her saying it out loud, clear as day, “Unconditional love is when you would do anything for the other person, no matter what. I would eat shit off your face if I had to because I love you so much.” I was maybe ten years old.

But okay, two things:

  1. When we talk about unconditional love, why does it have to be about someone else? and,
  2. No matter how much I love anyone, I don’t think I would eat poop off their face. But, that’s my gram for you.

Anyway.

I was talking with a good friend last night about a similar idea: living the single life. For anyone that follows this blog, you know that the love life in Buffalo has been, well, nonexistent. But another good friend gave me some good perspective. She said, “Michael, why would you even want to meet your person in Buffalo? You know you don’t want to stay here, so why even get wrapped up in something?”

Well, damn. She was completely right. I wouldn’t want to meet my person in Buffalo. At all. And I mean, things happen. If I did meet my person here, I wouldn’t resist it. But it gave me a new perspective on actively “searching for love.”

My Buffalo years have been my years. I’m just about to wrap up my second year, and there has been so much internal reflection and processing about who I am. And I really want to put an emphasis on the I. All my life I feel like I’ve taken on these external identities as my primary focus – son, brother, boyfriend, student, employee – but for the past few years, I’ve really had to pause and take another look at who I was, without any of those other labels. Stripped down at the core, who am I? Who are you?

Tracee Ellis Ross ends the video with this: “There’s a lot that happens on the path to growing up and you are exactly where you are supposed to be. And enjoy those spaces and those times, and really listen not just to what’s happening outside of you, but inside of you. Be who we are in a really full and beautiful way, and live these lives that we’re all living.”

It ties directly back to a goal I had set for myself this past year: Be who you are, unapologetically. Fully embrace your own life, regardless of what anyone else thinks. Because your path is your own, and you have to be happy on your own path. Otherwise, you’re just living a life for the sake of someone else.

I understand it’s easier said than done. If nothing else, maybe this post will just be a spot of inspiration, maybe to help jump start the process or begin to reflect in a new way. But at the end of the day, when it’s just you and yourself, who are you? What are some ways in which you live out your life, fully and unapologetically?

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(Not) Spinning Out of Control

This week has been a freaking week, let me tell you.

In one week, I visited my sister, caught up with a friend from college, went to an LGBTQ dinner club, went on a really great date, played bananagrams with friends, started rewatching Parks and Rec, AND let’s not forget the best part…I MET LAVERNE COX!!! Yes, it’s true.

But despite all of those really great things, three events stick out the most in my mind:
1. I caught malocchio (the evil eye)
2. I lost my wallet
3. I “forgot” about a Starbucks shift and completely missed it

It’s the rotten apple idea. Why does one apple have to ruin the whole orchard?!

There’s a theme with my three rotten apple moments. I had absolutely no control over anything that happened. Although there were precautions I could have taken, the truth is, I didn’t take them. And in the moment, there was nothing I could do. I could’ve worn my Italian protection charm to bed every night, but I didn’t. I could’ve kept my wallet in my back pocket, but I didn’t. I could’ve triple checked the dates I was working at Starbucks, but I didn’t.

And when I caught malocchio, realized I lost my wallet, and got that call from work, there was nothing I could do. It was too late. Some may see this as a sign…”Michael, you are spinning out of control what the heck is everything okay what’s wrong how can I help?!??” STOP RIGHT THERE. Everything is fine. But sometimes, life sweeps you up. And when you’re being swept up in that tornado of life, here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Remember: some things are out of your control
    • Just reminding yourself of this can help. You can tear apart your bedroom, have friends and coworkers search your office, your room, etc. But damn, deep down you know that if you can’t find that wallet, you are out of luck. It’s not going to magically appear after you’ve searched up and down for a week. Once it’s done, it’s done. That doesn’t mean you can’t do anything at all, however, which leads me to point #2.
  2. Utilize your resources 
    • When I found out I had malocchio, I immediately texted my dad. I didn’t care that it was midnight. “Help! I have malocchio!” The curse had been cast, it was already done. But I couldn’t just sit back and let it take it’s toll. The next day, my dad called me and told me that my aunt in Italy confirmed that I did indeed have malocchio, and she was doing her rituals to cast it away. And it worked! Reaching out to other people in your spinning moments can be a good thing.
  3. Take time to grieve the situation
    • This sounds dramatic. “Grieve the situation.” But I’m totally serious. Just because something is out of your control doesn’t mean you can’t (and shouldn’t) talk about it. Everyone I came into contact with last week knows about my lost wallet. And when I realized I looked at the wrong date I was scheduled to work, I was with a friend over an hour away. “Okay, deep breaths,” she said, “And let’s talk through it.” And we did.
  4. Follow up
    • You can bet your ass I’m never going to miss a Starbucks shift again. And I’m going to (try to) be extra extra careful with my wallet next time. If there is any precaution to be had, do it. Try to avoid “a next time.”

Some may see these events as “spinning out of control.” But I’m choosing to see it as a growth opportunity. You live and you learn. Learn from the experiences that are handed to you, even if they are all your fault, or not your fault at all. There is always something to be gained.