As your friendly neighborhood positivity advocate, I’m here to tell you that making and taking space for yourself is acceptable. It is okay. In fact, it is encouraged. Let me explain:
When I say making space, I mean giving yourself some me-time. Focus on your needs and wants. Take the time to sit down with yourself and just be there. Have an internal conversation with the kid version of yourself who still resides deep down inside, who needs some reassurance, a pep talk, a boost in confidence and self-love. In that same vein, why not have internal dialogue with your adult self? Check in with yourself: how are you really doing? Be honest. How is life? What are some things that you’ve been wanting to do that you haven’t been able to? What’s holding you back? What can we do to make this happen?
By making space for ourselves, we’re able to practice better self-compassion, and respect our own needs and desires. We become better at acknowledging that we’re human beings that deserve good things. You learn to trust yourself more, thereby allowing you to exude confidence and radiate with love, ambition and passion. This is the stuff that people are talking about when they say what you put out into the universe returns to you–you start here and keep going, and eventually your efforts will be rewarded twofold. Sounds a little unrealistic, I know. But I am living, breathing proof of this.
I was just talking to my little brother’s fiancée about this very recently. A few years ago, I spent a lot of time, energy, frustration and tears in a workplace I absolutely disliked. I was constantly stressed out due to the constant sexual harassment, bigotry, sense of entitlement, racism and just general negativity that happened on the daily from my boss. Note to self: never work in a place like that ever again, even if it pays really well! There was a cycle occurring–I worked in a place that had never let me grow, didn’t lift me up and made me absolutely anxious all the time, which resulted in me having awful self-esteem. The inverse also was happening–because I had awful self-esteem, I felt like I couldn’t leave that career and move onto something better, or at least just save enough money and quit. Another note to self: always have a fuck-off-fund–a savings that will allow you to give people, workplaces or situations the birdie when you’ve had enough.
I stayed at that shitty workplace for five years. Five years. And now, looking back, I think to myself: why did I put up with that harassment, anxiety, bigotry and all of that ugliness for so long?
Because I didn’t think I deserved any better or that I didn’t have it in me to do what I really wanted to do.
It wasn’t until much later when a few family members spoke up, realizing how miserable I was. My mom, one of the few people that actually pulled me aside and called attention to this truth, encouraged me to apply somewhere she knew had the culture I wanted and deserved, would give me respect, growth and everything that anyone could ever want in a job and more. So I took the plunge, but I was terrified.
But then, I proved my anxieties and negativity wrong. I did it. I’m now in a career I absolutely love, with people I actually enjoy working with, and I’m experiencing non-stop learning and growth–and it’s encouraged! As a result of removing myself from a place that stunted my growth (and in some ways, reversed what I had already cultivated within myself), I felt better about myself and radiated so much positive energy, that I began to attract people and events that do the same. Good things really do happen to good people. Perspective is everything.
In fact, I can easily say I am not the same person I was 3-4 years ago. I have grown so much in the last few years, when I look in the past, I don’t recognize that I was that person–that I was that individual who was constantly in mental anguish.
This is what I mean by making space. By generating space for you to be present with yourself and having a crucial conversation about your own needs and wants within yourself, you unlock a new achievement: being best version of yourself.
Now you’re probably wondering what it means to take space.
Taking space is being assertive. Taking space is voicing your opinion. Taking space is making yourself present and known. Taking space is not shrinking or minimizing yourself physically, emotionally and mentally. You are allowed to take space, be unabashedly yourself, and be accepted. Why? Because you deserve love, respect and acceptance, just like everyone else.
Admittedly, I have social anxiety sometimes because I am afraid of taking space. I turn into a shrinking violet and a conspiracy theorist. My mind can instantly go to something like, “wow, they must find me really boring” and I become simultaneously overwhelmed, quiet and mega awkward. I am afraid of exerting myself as a confident, strong, independent, intelligent, interesting, talented woman sometimes due to this fear of having people criticize me, shame me, or dislike me. Ladies, you get me on this. We’re frequently smacked with labels like “bossy,” “bitchy,” “too ambitious,” “too independent,” “fake,” and so on.
Ignore that bullshit.
Anyone that thinks those things of us are clearly misguided, misinformed and closed-minded. And we don’t want to waste our time and energy on those kinds of people anyway. We have much better things to do.
So repeat after me: I deserve to make and take space because I am a human being.