When I was younger (and if I’m being very honest, sometimes even now) I would announce a praise someone else had recently bestowed upon me when connecting to a friend, as if to convince myself of its truth and declare my worthiness. I don’t think I am alone. We live in a world that asks of us a sort of triumphant self-proclamation. But I have noticed that those who seem the most self-assured, the most confident, tend to quietly, almost furtively express their acknowledgment of self. This is not to denounce those who are larger than life, whose personalities light a room or stage aglow. I, for one, love to be entertained. And really, where would we be without the Leos of the world? I am referring, instead, to something subtler, something more pervasive that seems to run through the very marrow of our culture.
I am deeply introverted, but I learned, over time, to overcompensate for my acute sensitivity and shyness with an almost cartoonish extroversion. When I moved to Los Angeles a decade ago, alone at the tender age of 24, knowing barely a soul, this need intensified. I hid my insatiable intellectual curiosity. I dropped my wit, saltiness, and natural sarcasm. I abandoned myself, attaching to a man 14 years my senior, who mirrored back my own self-denial: critiquing my headiness, my conservatism, and my tenderness. The farther I grew from myself, I later realized, the louder I spoke.
We will never get what we need from others if we don’t get it from ourselves first. And while it is indeed true that we need others, it is also true that we won’t be able to receive what they have to offer without the careful examination and subsequent recognition of our own worth and value first.
I recently saw the delightful and uproarious musical Matilda, based on my favorite childhood novel by Roald Dahl. It follows the story of a little girl who is exceptionally, preternaturally intelligent, but born to parents of limited intelligence and curiosity who incessantly mock and scold her. Upon entering school, she is befriended by an observant and sensitive teacher who encourages her talents, despite the absurd protestations of the headmistress (who, of course, hates children). Books may be Matilda’s thing, but it is a story for any child who has ever felt unseen, unheard, and unacknowledged. What struck me above all else was Matilda’s refusal to apologize for her uniqueness. She remains intact. How often do we, especially as we age, atone for ourselves in an effort to adapt to our surroundings, inducing shame and surrendering our integrity in the process? What if the reverse were true? What if instead, we gathered more of ourselves as we sank into adolescence and then into adulthood, ridding ourselves of the scaffolding that we so diligently erect to protect ourselves? Who would we be then?
Whoever you are, whatever particular mix of disposition and behavior constitutes the core of your being, know that you are lovely and loveable. It is the very reason why I became an astrologer. The look of relief on a client’s face when I explain the origins of their patterning is often heartbreakingly beautiful. Who doesn’t ache to feel understood? We grow, we evolve, we expand, but we are who we are. And it is so much more than enough.