We read so many articles and blog posts, and are exposed to so many Instagram pictures and advertisements, about being our best selves – in essence, eradicating our faults and vices as much as humanly possible in order to maximize every ounce of perfection that we possibly contain. That’s the general gist portrayed anyway. From what the media is shoving in our faces, if we lose ten pounds, work out every day and drink smoothies filled with chia seeds then not only will we look better and feel better, but we will be better people. Articles slightly less concerned with body image encourage us to write a novel, learn how to conquer our fears, jump out of airplanes and save the whales, whilst feeding the poor and finding the cure for cancer. Essentially, the message is that in order to be our best selves, we must constantly be doing something in the search for improvement. This, my friends, is where I have a problem.
Yesterday morning I returned home having been away for about ten action-packed days, with little or no rest. Having been travelling both around Ireland and England, visiting and hosting friends and attending a variety of events and get-togethers, I cannot remember the last time I felt so exhausted. In complete uncharacteristic form, yesterday I spent the entire day in bed and am extremely tempted to do the same today. My basic instincts tell me at times like this that I am wrong – that I should be out doing things, accomplishing things and improving myself. This morning, having consumed a huge bowl of porridge and lazed on the sofa watching several episodes of ‘Catfish’ and ‘The Great Irish Bake Off’ I compiled my extensive list of things to do today. With only a week until I depart for Canada there is still so much to organize and so little time, but the gravity of what lay ahead proved to much and instead I found myself spending the afternoon lying on a blanket in the garden, absorbing what little sunshine could poke out between the clouds and reading my current John Grisham novel. Although part of me is screaming at myself for being lazy and unproductive, the other part realizes that if it were a friend of mine, I would be encouraging them to relax, enjoy what time they have left at home, recuperate and do the things they enjoy. I love my friends for their kindness and compassion towards me, and maybe I need to learn to be a better friend to myself, more kind and compassionate towards my feelings instead of constantly plaguing myself with ways to improve. Although society may believe I should instead drink a mug of chamomile tea (which to me tastes of cat pee) and go for a five-mile run, my best self wants me to do no more than that which I enjoy today – relishing reading and sunshine, accompanied by a nice mug of my favourite coffee. My best self should be my best friend, not my worst enemy.
My best self isn’t afraid to sometimes break the rules, to not always try and be perfect. She acknowledges that sometimes she needs to try harder and that her choices aren’t always right, but she’s not afraid to make mistakes and try again. She knows it’s ok to be who she is.
Last weekend I went to stay with my best friend and her family. Although the regular type of hostess gift I would bring would fall under the category of either ‘beautifully presented box of chocolates’ or ‘expensive bottle of wine’, this time I decided to march to the beat of my own drum and bring a homemade gift. Although slightly alarmed by its authentic presentation, my ‘cookie-dough-brownies’, a recipe that I have always wanted to make from one of my favourite blogs Cannella Vita, proved extremely successful, and demonstrated not only my appreciation for the visit, but a strong sense of myself that I had put into the gift.
Yes, sometimes we do need to make slight adjustments or imrovments. We should go for walks, we should work harder in school and we should eat better. But only sometimes. All of the time we need to practise kindness – not just to others but to ourselves. When we are kind to our friends, we are being their best friend; when we are kind to ourselves, we are being our best self.
And I always have room for another friend.
“When a woman becomes her own best friend life is easier” – Diane Von Furstenberg