“To fully appreciate something, one must also fully experience its opposite.”
We sort of know this. But we don’t like it. We want all the glory, all the depth, all the good stuff. But we don’t want to go through any darkness to get there. Because it’s messy. It’s painful. It’s ugly. It’s embarrassing. It’s hard. We want to be bright lights all the time. Good vibes only. No mistakes. But that’s not reality. And the sooner we accept that, the better off we’ll be.
“I love you no matter what,” I said recently to a friend who had suffered a major setback. “If this was the 47th time you failed, I would still love you. If this was the 900th time you failed, I would still love you. Failing is part of it and you are amazing regardless.”
Later that day, my stomach twisted violently when I had the thought, “Would I be able to say the same thing to myself? Am I able to love myself through every failure, setback, mistake, and broken promise? Through all the dark?”
Are any of us able to do that?
I fail every day. I often disappoint and even disgust myself. Sometimes the dark in me feels overwhelming. Sometimes it feels unloveable. Unforgivable. In those times, I want to distract myself. Be busy. Be with people. Turn up the music. Work too hard. Work out too hard. Scroll scroll scroll through the newsfeed. Anything to stay in the light.
But again… To fully appreciate something, one must also fully experience its opposite.
And to fully experience, we must stop avoiding. Scurrying. Jabbering. Spending. Scrolling. Gossiping. Fretting. We must face and embrace the dark.
The times I’m a liar show me how valuable it is to speak my truth.
The times I’m a pushover show me how valuable it is to stand my ground.
The times I’m overcompensating show me how valuable it is to be subtle.
The times I’m materialistic show me how valuable it is to simplify.
We appreciate the light because of the dark. The beauty is in the contrast. The lessons are in the contrast. The life is in the contrast.
I don’t trust people who appear squeaky clean anymore. And, please, don’t think I’m squeaky clean. I assure you, I’m not. But this admission – this acknowledgement – is so necessary. So healing. I accept that the dark is there. It’s there in me. It’s there in you. But it’s not an enemy. It’s a gift. Maybe not the gift we had our sights set on, but the gift we need.
So sit with the lights off every now and then. Notice all the dark and crooked parts in you, but don’t hate them. Know that they are supposed to be there. Be brave enough to explore them. To feel them. To heal them. Quit trying to drown them out with positivity and busyness and validation.
Tree branches are twisted, rough, and gnarled. Still beautiful.
Sunsets are fiery, fleeting, and unpredictable. Still beautiful.
YOU are confused, tired, and struggling. STILL FUCKING BEAUTIFUL.