“We accept the love we think we deserve”- Stephen Chbosky The Perks of Being a Wallflower
My struggle with bipolar disorder has been much more complicated than I ever could have guessed. It has been a struggle to stay stabilized, to understand my own disorder, and to learn myself. However, one of the hardest parts of my journey has been learning my own value.
For years I perceived that I was not very valuable. In fact, I perceived myself as having no innate value. I thought that what I had done mattered, but the person doing it did not. Thus,I had to perform to be worth something. I had to prove that I was good enough. I had to prove that I was worth loving, worth paying attention to, or worth dignity. Even when people cared for me and loved on me, I would not accept it unless I had done something to merit their love. I did not perceive that I was worth anything and so I did not believe that their love or care was real.
The truth is that no matter how much value a person has, when things like depression hit, it is not their value, but their perception of their value that matters. No matter how much a person matters if, they do not believe they matter, nothing can make them accept the love of those who care for them. In my own case, I did not accept love and grace, even though I was good enough and worthy. I did not see myself as deserving. In the cases of many people I know, they do not accept the love and the grace that they deserve because they do not think they deserve it.
For me, I believed working for love was the only way to deserve it. I had to earn everything. But I was wrong.
True value is simple, it is being human. There is innate dignity and worth in being human. I am worthy of love because as a human, I am valuable. I can accept love because I, by virtue of existing, am good enough.
Everything around us screams that this is not true. All around us, people judge others by their work. A CEO is judged as a terrible person because they missed the quarterly projections. A worker is considered a failure because they cannot work with the same skill and precision as a machine. A driver is considered a failure because they fail to merge and get into an accident. But everything that people are judged as is set under a false assumption. That assumption is that to be human is to be worth your work, and in order to be truly worthy, you must be perfect. But it is not true. To be human and be perfect is toxic.
The art of being human is the art of being worth so much, regardless of our performance. It is the being worthy without being perfect. It is learning that we are good enough. In this place of understanding, it is no longer my performance that matter, but people’s willingness to care for and love me. It is no longer about what I can do, it is about who I am. In this place we can learn to to accept the love given to us. We can learn that a person would not offer love if they did not deserve we were deserving as well. We can learn that someone’s care and concern is something they give us as a gift, and they so desire that we learn to accept it.
You are worth a great deal. I hope you learn to experience love and hope not by virtue of performing well enough, but by virtue of being enough.