I was in a Dallas bar on Friday, July 16, 2004, with some college friends having the time of my life. It was a warm summer evening, and our moods were inspired as drinks were consumed. I remember this evening because Pedro Martinez was pitching for the Red Sox against the Angels and my six-game parlay was about to cash in about $4K. The excitement in me was percolating. ‘If the Red Sox close out the game—shots for everyone up at the bar,’ I announced. They held on, and I closed my hefty tab that night with much glee and satisfaction. I was, in fact, visiting my hometown friends from DC, and my trip was more of an ego-centric victory lap. I was indeed riding high on my gambling exploits. I had spent the last three months perfecting my art of betting parlays on baseball. My love for baseball and propensity for research led me to this particular moment. I felt like I was winning at life. 🏆
Fast forward another four months, and my summer run had turned into my flailing fall. I had gone on several trips, dined out in the best restaurants in DC, and I had proved that my gambling prowess was a flash in the pan. I used to look back at that time and revel in the risk and success I sustained. But now, I look back and see a new angle in that storyline. My desire to win and gain approval fell short yet again.
Do you know that feeling where you can be selected to 'join' (your name is about to be called)? It happens with playground kids, teen dances, school admission, landing jobs and promotions, navigating dating websites, and again and again in nuanced social interactions. I get notable butterflies as I await the approval signal. I want to win the prize. No, I need to win it. That prize is recognition and, honestly, deep down, it's love.
It took me a long while to see that I was seeking most of my love and worth outside of myself. I couldn't see it; I just had the inner knowing (like I think many of us do). Approval was so simple. My parents loved it when I succeeded at the coming-of-age markers. My peers included me when I made them laugh or helped them 'win' in their pursuits. So why shouldn't it be about winning?
Not until I 'lost' in the most painful way did I realize that I didn't have a solid foundation for myself. A need I believe is universal—foundational self-respect and self-love. Loving oneself has nearly become a cliche these days. Rebel Wilson even made a movie with an eye-winking nod around our need for self-love. It's not a cliche for me. It's an absolute necessity. On a deeper level, my love for self includes having higher regard for my well-being and health. It involves trusting myself, asserting boundaries, and an overall more profound connection to myself, leading to more meaningful connections to others. There is so much power in generating and providing ourselves with compassion and love that is quite frankly our right.
Here's to you and loving within,