*Dear elephant reader: if you’re single & looking for mindful dating or conscious love, try out our lovely partner, MeetMindful.
When I was in junior high school, I learned some important lessons.
At the time, I had just moved back to California, from being out of the country, and I didn’t fit in at all.
People teased me, daily. I gave away my lunch, in the hopes that people would begin to like me. I’d inserted myself into countless conversations, desperate to be a part of them.
I would do funny dances in front of crowds of kids, thinking they were laughing with me, but it was really at me.
Everyone made fun of the way I talked. They made fun of my hair and clothes.
At the time, we couldn’t afford name-brand shoes, so I had Pro Wings (which were the closest brand to Nike, without the price).
And everyday they would call me “Tight Joe” because I wore near to form-fitting blue shorts and X-Men t-shirts.
I started to hate myself. I was insecure and felt like an outcast.
Being myself wasn’t enough.
I did everything I could to fit in with everyone else. I failed day after day for over two years.
And the summer right before high school, I finally gave up. I was tired.
But, I had found a friend.
He became my best friend and a brother to me. He lived a few blocks away from me, and I was at his house almost every day.
We went to the arcade and the comic book store.
We bought #2s from McDonalds (at the time it was the two cheeseburger meal) and each of us ate a cheeseburger and shared the french fries and drink.
He accepted me. He didn’t judge the tight pants, non-label shoes or X-men t-shirts. He was there when I was insecure and hating myself and he was there when I was laughing and happy.
He taught me that people who love and accept us do it wholeheartedly. All we have to do is show up as ourselves.
What I learned from having a true friend.
1. Be myself.
I was parading around as someone else and who I thought everyone else wanted me to be. I was putting myself in situations that were disingenuous, and left me empty because I didn’t have the courage to accept myself.
People didn’t know who I was, but neither did I. I was looking for myself in other people, and I just wasn’t there to be found.
In truth, I’m an energy healer who loves superheroes, watches anime and zombie movies. I eat cheeseburgers and meditate daily. And I have a cat baby (whom I love dearly).
2. Intuition is a voice of love.
This one took me a long time to learn, and it’s an on going process.
We must connect to our soul’s compass. We call it a “gut feeling.” But really it’s recognition of our body, spirit and the subtle messages (of comfort/discomfort) that are being received and our discernment of them.
In the past, fear, expectation, greed and past traumas guided me toward more and more of the same kind of pain. Drudging up the uncomfortable past, in order to remind me that it was filtering the way I perceived my world.
Because of this understanding, I’m getting better at knowing when I’m headed the “wrong” way and which of my choices are being influenced by negative emotions and past traumas.
And, of course, it helps to remind myself each day, “intuition is a loving voice.”
3. If a relationship with someone feels paper thin, it’s okay to let them go.
When I was younger. I called anyone who I met a friend. I thought the more “friends” I had the more important I was.
The truth was, 98% of those “friends” didn’t last forever. Many didn’t last the day, week, month or year and I was scared to let them go.
I was holding my “friends” as emotional prisoners within myself, because them leaving meant that I wasn’t enough.
I realized that my real friends are like family and the rest that had gone their separate ways, creating friendship families of their own.
In truth, I don’t believe our lives are meant to be a carbon copy of anyone else’s. There’s a unique internal blueprint that can only be ignited by the individual.
To soften our self-expression and not allow anyone to receive who we really are is a disservice to ourselves and those around us.
The choices we make point us toward truth. They shape us.
And the way we embrace and evolve from our decisions color our experiences.From the people we hold dear, to the parts of ourselves that we heal, and the ability to know when to let go of everything at its appointed time, allows us to hold the space for our greatness to occur.
Author: Nicholas Pepe
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock
Photo: flickr/Alexandre Dulaunoy