#TBT: Stop Living For "Them" ft. the "For Me" Movement
I SPENT 25 YEARS OF MY LIFE LIVING FOR OTHERS.
I'M DOING IT ALL FOR ME NOW.
My story will likely be different than yours, but I'm willing to bet that most women reading this have likely spent the majority if not all of their lives living for others.
I was deeply in love with my father who passed away over a year ago. He continues to be my role model in so many ways, but if I'm honest, I didn't conceptualize our relationship in such a healthy way. On one hand, I cared way too much about his opinion/approval of me and on another hand, I knew that I shouldn't be living for anyone but myself.
MY MIND AND HEART WERE AT WAR - ALWAYS A RECIPE FOR DISASTER.
So this particular disaster resulted in me living for him on some days, and living in spite of him on other days. I thought that the latter meant that I had a mind of my own, when in reality, I was doing it all for him, because i was just a rebel without a cause.
WHETHER THE "IT" WAS MY HAIR COLOR OR WHAT I CHOSE TO STUDY IN SCHOOL, DOING IT FOR OR IN SPITE OF SOMEONE ELSE LEFT ME NO ROOM TO DO IT FOR ME.
A few months before he passed unexpectedly, I started doing things for me. I was doing the right thing because I knew it was the right thing, not out of guilt or obligation or reaction. I got a taste of what "for me" felt like, and then my father passed away suddenly. and i prayed and prayed and prayed to god, so grateful that i kept a piece of myself for me, because if i kept doing it all for him, i would have had nothing else to live for.
from there, I promised I would keep doing it all for me. and it's been so challenging, but so rewarding. and more than anything, it's opened my eyes to how this "for them" mentality manifests itself in so many of my sisters especially. even if we cannot identify the "them" that we're doing it for, so many of us are doing everything - from the way we wear our hair to the way we talk to the careers we choose - for others: our community, society, our extended family, social media, etc. we are looking for affirmation and love and approval from "them" instead of seeing ourselves through our eyes, or through god's eyes.
there is no time "for me" After committing to live "for them:"
we want them to be proud of us. we want them to love us. we want them to appreciate us. we want them to see us. we want their approval. we want them to think we are worthy. we want them to find us attractive. we want them to find us intelligent and insightful. we want them to clap for us. we want to be desired by them. we want them to fill our voids. we want them to understand us. we want them to validate us. we want them to acknowledge our existence.
so we do it all for them. or like me, we rebel and do the opposite in spite of them. regardless, we cannot simultaneously do it for them and maintain an identity that exists outside of "them."
honestly, as problematic as it is to want these things so badly from others, i don't think that's the problem here. the problem is that we are not giving those same needs to ourselves. surely, if we could give ourselves the love and assurance and recognition that we're clearly starving for, we would have no need to look elsewhere.
THE "FOR ME" MOVEMENT
after my father passed, i went on a serious "for Me" cleanse. I wanted to re-evaluate all things in my life to ensure their presence was for me and not for "them," whoever they were. it's safe to say I cleaned house and only re-introduced things that I felt i mistakenly got rid of (not many things):
- i moved back home
- I cleaned out my entire closet and gave away over half of my clothes
- i dyed my hair back to its natural color
- i got rid of all piercings outside of the ones i got as a baby
- i stopped wearing makeup
- i embraced my natural, curly hair
- i cleansed my social media accounts
- i stopped listening to toxic media and replaced it with spiritual/nourishing media
- i took serious space from 90% of the people in my life and replaced it with intentional alone time
- i stopped feeling like i wasn't good enough for god and started praying
- i started posting poetry between my instagram pictures to ensure my page was reflective of who i am
- i got rid of fixed mindsets and starting speaking positivity over my life
- i got rid of my pride/ego/fear
- i got rid of any entitlement and replaced it with gratitude and humility
- i stopped engaging with any complicated relationships or unhealthy attachments
- i stopped pretending to be a savage and started embracing my identity as a soft [read: strong] woman
and best of all, i did it all for me. i did it because it was the right thing to do. i did it because it made me a better person. i did it because it's what god wants me to do ("for me" implies a purpose that god has ordained for me).
i think that may have been the turning point in getting me to ditch "them" and do it "for me:" realizing that doing it for anyone other than me would mean that I'm not walking in my purpose or potential. and this would mean that i'm not impacting others in the ways that I could. i needed to get out of my own way in order to make way for the positive impact I was created to have on those around me.
and if "they" are no longer in my life after I choose "me," well, worse things have happened.
see, doing things "for them" is actually selfish. think about it. doing things "for me" is the only way to create space to do it for others, too. doing things "for me" ensures that my heart and mind are working together for the betterment of those around me. doing things "for me" ensures that I am the best version of myself for myself and for all of those who come in contact with me. how selfish would i be to do it for anyone but me?
I HOPE YOU CAN DITCH THEM - at least for the time being - AND DO THE RIGHT THING FOR YOURSELF LOVE.
AFTER ALL, IT HAS TO BE FOR YOU, IN ORDER FOR IT TO EVER BE "FOR THEM," TOO.