Last night I was talking to my fantabulous boyfriend and he gave me a challenge: I should write a blog post answering the question “What do you think your boyfriend likes about you?” I thought that this would be the worst blog post in the world and impossible to answer and pretty much suck, which of course means that I should probably write about it.
One of the things that is incredibly difficult when you have depression or an eating disorder or just cripplingly low self esteem is that when someone you love compliments you, it feels like a lie. Not only that, but it also feels deeply wrong. It causes a great deal of cognitive dissonance. You trust this person to tell you the truth. This person is saying you’re good or beautiful. You know deeply that this is not the case. How do you reconcile these things?
Most of the time I think people like myself just ignore this problem. When someone compliments us we deny or we hide or we pretend it didn’t happen. We don’t want to face that dissonance. So it can be an extremely helpful exercise to try to imagine ourselves from the perspective of someone else. When another person simply tells you what they think of you it’s easy not to internalize it, but if you have to creatively imagine it yourself it is much more powerful.
So if I were to imagine what my boyfriend likes about me, here is what I would say.
I am a tenacious person. Somewhere in me I have the bits of my mother and my grandmother that say I will complete a task that I set out to do. If I decide something will happen, then IT WILL HAPPEN (and woe betide those who try to get in my way). Even if I hate something, I will still persist and persist (and bitch) and persist if I say I’m going to do it. I don’t view commitment lightly, and I think that says something about how important the world and other people are to me.
Part of that is that I’m thoughtful. I don’t just skim the surface of things: I think about them. That means I think about what it means if I don’t finish something. I think about what it means if I do finish something. I think about everything all the time. People tell me I’m smart, but really it’s just that my brain never stops. And that’s kind of beautiful. Sometimes I think that I’m just a neverending ball of energy (on a good day) and sometimes that energy comes out as bouncing and giggling and dancing and sometimes it comes out as philosophy and that’s sort of awesome.
And part of that awesome is that I really deeply care. I care about other people a lot. I have sort of an overabundance of empathy and I’m really worried about making sure that other people are ok. This mean that I will spend a lot of time checking in with the people I care about, listening to them, taking care of them, being vulnerable with them and helping them be vulnerable back. I’d like to think I’m pretty damn good at keeping someone’s vulnerability safe. And I don’t only feel this way about people that I know and love. I want to spend my life making the world better for everyone (except Rush Limbaugh).
But I also want to spend my life doing awesome stuff. I’m probably one of the most engaged people I know: I get excited about nearly everything and I want to do nearly everything. This means I’ve got lots of really badass hobbies. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with someone who does cool stuff? I’m not ashamed to like stuff, loudly and vehemently, but I’m also curious about the stuff other people like (as well as almost everything in the world).
So I guess I do have a few good things about me. What would you say if you had to explain why your friends love you? Can you do it?