Growing Up, Love


Pissarro Family Legend

We are allowed to love ourselves.

We are allowed to show up. We are allowed to take the compliment even when we fall short of our own standards.

We are allowed to determine the standards.

We are allowed to talk about how hard it is to love ourselves. We are allowed to enjoy our own simple company. We are allowed to release our grip. To revel in the small days. To have just one or two good friends.

We are allowed to think of our family, whatever its shape, as worthy of a crest.

We are allowed to take breaks from improving. To rest from fixing the broken world. To trust our instincts. We are allowed to marvel at our dreams and be haunted by our nightmares. We are allowed to insist that others not diminish us. We are allowed to draw lessons from any source. To see our lives as complete.

We are allowed to make a nice dinner for one. To eat from the good plates. To make art for the hell of it. To dance. To read whatever takes us to the places we want to go. We are allowed to tell our story. To forgo larger themes.

We are allowed to look up. To breathe.

We are allowed to expand or shrink, to sprout gray hairs, to creak and wrinkle. We are allowed to wear swimsuits and shorts and tuxedos and skinny dresses and headscarves and sequins and socks with sandals. To make our own occasions. To sleep naked. To laugh with a jiggling belly. To howl. To whisper. To flirt. To mourn.

We are allowed to close doors. To turn towards what compels us. To celebrate simple victories. To make big plans and take tiny steps. We are allowed to change those plans. To stop trying. To reconcile ourselves to disappointment. We are allowed to do great work in one and only one area of our lives. To get by everywhere else. We are allowed to decide what constitutes “great work.”

We are allowed to love what we love. To ignore demands for an explanation. To feel lonely and do nothing to change it. We are allowed to complain. We are allowed to nestle into our routines, our music, our hobbies, our skin. We are allowed to want more. We are allowed to fear for the future. To take risks for what we believe. To comfort our hurts. To speak kindly to ourselves. To fumble and trip and try again.

We are allowed to assume others will welcome us. To sting before shrugging it off when they don’t. To choose our friends and let others choose theirs. To be grateful when fondness grows into affinity. We are allowed to disregard networks and metrics and opportunities and strategic plans and personal brands. To determine our heroes. To write letters that no one will ever see. To offer up our longing to anyone who will listen. To never speak it out loud at all.

We are allowed to want.

We are allowed to share a home and a bed with someone. We are allowed to pour as much of ourselves into our home and our companions as we wish.

We are allowed to share a home and a bed with no one. We are allowed to pour as much of ourselves into ourselves as we wish.

We are allowed to be satisfied and unsatisfied at the same time.

We are allowed to accept what’s in front of us. To reject the parts we aren’t ready to accept. To dig ourselves loose first where the roots are most shallow. We’re allowed to focus on health, pleasure, sex, family, finances, art, neighbors, stability, science, travel, learning, justice, books, self-care, scholarship, gods, gaming, pets, peace, building things, helping people, keeping house, growing food, climate change, or anything else we find meaningful.

We are allowed to shed old definitions. To expand our vocabulary.

We are allowed to wake up unsure what will drive us today. To get up anyway.

We are allowed to follow a pulse only we can hear.

We are allowed to inhabit the skin we’re in, exactly as it is right now.

We are allowed to love ourselves.

Image: Frederic Bonin-Pissarro, “Family Legend”

9 thoughts on “Permission”

  1. I appreciate this work of writing, thank you for sharing it. Allowing ourselves to be reminded that we are a work in progress, a fumbled moment away from greatness, beauty from the inside and out, just as we are is enough…I quite agree. And, I enjoyed reading and finding so may similarities in what you wrote about and what I see to be enough in myself. Lovely.

    1. Yes… untying some of the emotional knots around our relationships, work, and self-concept frees us up to have a more effective impact in our communities and the world.

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