Everything I’m Not Made Me Everything I Am

Radix Magazine Spring 2020 - Well-being

I was excited to see that the prompt for this season’s submissions was “well-being,” because I felt like I had things to say about this topic. But it didn’t take much preliminary writing to see a pattern of thought emerge which was far more concerned with the idea of improving one’s self rather than finding wellness for the self. This conflation didn’t surprise me. On the contrary, it was familiar to me – a place I had operated from for a long time. How can I get higher grades, how can I be healthier, how can I know and do more, etc. But I’ve come to learn that it’s a troubling thing to confuse wellness with improvement – and in the end, this belief sets you on a path that can’t earnestly lead you to either.

As soon as we make improving ourselves our sole priority, we begin to operate off the logical basis that we’re “not there yet.” And while self-improvement can be a healthy and realistic space to motivate certain goals, it’s also a deeply fraught place to seek wellness. Sure, we all need things to strive for – that is certainly a part a full life of wellness. But when you live in the space of “not there yet” it can start to sound an awful lot like “not good enough yet.”

Soon, this habit of confusing the two in my pursuits became a sure way of limiting the self, when I was trying to nourishing it! And while it’s true that I couldn’t really imagine my life (or myself) without the idea of ‘self-improvement,’ it can never be the foundation for being “well.”

The true backbone of wellness, in my opinion, is acceptance; the practicing of persistent awareness and acceptance of the self as is, in any moment. Because we can’t become any more than we are if we aren’t already enough.

So, I did get a C on a paper last semester, and no – that friend didn’t keep my confidence, and yes this eternal winter does have me so far in my feelings that my hopes of seeing daylight again are waning. But really, all of that is okay. As it turns out: a C, one less friend, and overcast skies are enough – and it’s up to me to say so. So here’s what I pose to you: surrender as far as you can into acceptance (and maybe a little ways into vulnerability, too), and see if wellness doesn’t surface. In fact, see if all things in your life, including your goals of self-improvement aren’t made the better because of it.

Wishing you wellness.

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