I want you to know that nothing is wrong with you. I know this sounds cliché and trite and like I'm patting the top of your head while telling you all the things you want to hear. No, that's not where I'm coming from. I need you to know and I need myself to know that there is nothing wrong with you/me. We're f*cking fine. Do you hear me? We're fine.
I want you to know that you can try to be better, you can work hard, you can do all the things you think you need to do, but none of that will do anything to prove to you that you are worth your space in this world. The only person that can decide that is you. You.
You decide how much space you get to take up. You decide how much your voice is worth. You can work yourself ragged and accrue everything you ever thought you needed, but if you don't believe who you are underneath the glitz, nothing will matter. A fevered mind has a funny way of turning gold into dust.
I want you to know there's nothing to prove, that even if you do all the things that you or someone else told you that you couldn't do, there will be no glory in it. There is no glory in living a life in search of undoing a feeling. You have a core belief that you are not worthy, that you are not lovable, and that you are not good enough? There is no manner of things you can achieve, people you can impress, or people who will love you in order to convince you of a thing you can't believe in yourself. You can't turn a sour belief sweet just by outrunning it forever.
I want you to know that you can't outrun your life, your emotions, and those little beliefs that feel tiny enough to overlook but fester over time. Inconsequential negative beliefs have a way of turning into hugely damaging beliefs. Believe me, I've lived in search of the magic elixir that will turn my emotions into something else, something better, and my life into something shinier. I've searched everywhere, but the only real magic elixir is reckoning with yourself, taking the responsibility, demanding that the only person who can save you is you. It's you, babe. It's you.
You're the savior. You're the one you've been looking for.
I want you to know that you will never be enough if all you're looking to be is enough. You need to forget about enough and look beyond it to something else entirely, something that can be measured. "Enoughness" can't be measured. You are only as enough as you are better than someone else, and that's a slippery slope. Not being enough needs participation from others—because it's always comparison. That's always where it begins and ends—this incessant need to weigh the value of your life against another person's. Are you more than another? Less than another? You don't really want to be adequate or good enough. No. What you're searching for is to be special, to be better than others. And that's a losing game, even if you think you've won.
I want you to know that if you need to feel loved, please look around at your life and see the magic everywhere. You may not have a thousand friends or a perfect family, but you have your people and they matter, even if the number of those you can count on is in the single digits. Don't throw that away looking for more. I know it seems like admiration, fame, social validation make you feel the love you may not feel for yourself, but it's so fleeting. It's dangerous to stake anything on.
Attention is not love. Double taps are not reminders of your adequacy. Favorites, likes, and followers are not an indictment of your value, no matter how big or small the number reaches or falls. If you've found yourself entirely too consumed with the digital trail of admirers you do or don't have, remind yourself that you are valuable, as you are, without anything or anyone paying attention. Your value exists without condition.
I want you to know that strength is not what you think it is or what the world has told you it is. Strength is not your loud voice or your angry rally cries. Strength is in keeping a positive heart in a negative world, a sensitive soul in a cruel world that often feels beyond the realm of soulless. There is a strength in not letting this world swallow you and spit you out as someone who thinks preaching their opinion off the highest mountain is what brave people do.
Courage is listening when your knuckles are going white from clenching down on the arms of your chair. Courage is respect and not letting any number of heartbreaks sour you from believing that there is good, there is love, there is something in this mad world to have hope for.
I want you to know that within you lies something integral to this world. You're a puzzle piece that fits into the grander framework of humanity. Today is a whole new day, and you can turn it all around in one quick decision to do something, anything, different than how you've done it before. Change comes slowly and then all at once. You will think you're going down the long tunnel of darkness until it happens, until you're renewed. Trust that it's coming. Trust that something bigger is forming. Trust your tender heart. Trust your wild ideas. Take the chance. Say no when it doesn't light you up. Follow whatever within you tells you that you're doing something that makes you come alive.
I want you to know that the only waste here would be for you to sleep through your life. The only thing you could do wrong is to opt out of who you are, to forgo whatever fights come out of you. Because something does fight within you to be said, to be done—no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential you think it is. You can change a heart in the most ordinary gesture. Don't let this world harden you until all you see is what's going wrong, what's bad. Because the thing no one tells you is there is as much good as there is bad. As much darkness as there is light. It simply depends on where you focus your eyes.
This piece was originally published on Medium and was republished with the author's permission. Jamie Varon is a writer based in Los Angeles. The views expressed herein are hers. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.