I spent some time yesterday with my not quite yet three year old niece Ella the other day. I just love the stuffing out of her. I had the best time just watching her play with her little kitchen, pouring us tiny cups of the “soup” she’d made, feeding the stuffed animals and putting them to bed, letting her imagination run wild.
She would talk and talk. More “at” us than to us. I don’t even think it mattered to her much whether we truly understood what she was saying. At one point she said something that made herself laugh. She had an expression on her face that said: “I am so hilarious”. She was delighting in her own jokes, basking in her own brilliance and it was beautiful to watch her be deeply content in her own wonderful world.
She doesn’t need anything to make her happy. (Well, she wanted a second cookie, but other than that…) Sure she’ll have her unhappy moments (that’s might be putting it mildly, right mom/sis?), but she is more likely to be railing against the injustice of not getting something she wants, because she still knows that she deserves it all, rather than feel miserable because she feels not good enough or unworthy in some way.
She is born, like all of us, with a natural love for herself, just as she is. She doesn’t know what self-esteem is, she’s just got it. She has no concept of self-criticism. She feels full of herself in the most beautiful way. Full as in filled up. Whole. Perfect.
As I watched her and reveled in how amazing she is, I thought: “When did we lose that?”
When did we lose that natural ability to love ourselves as we are? To take delight in what we do well rather than dwell on what we perceive to be flawed? To laugh at ourselves. And not just at our own ridiculousness which would be an improvement, but laugh because we actually take a moment to appreciate how amazing we are.
Because aren’t we all doing really well given who we are and all we’ve been through? Isn’t it okay, more than okay, to revel in that a little? Or even a lot?
When did it become an insult to say: “she’s so full of herself!”?
That should be the most beautiful compliment. One I decided to strive for. I want to be full of myself. I want to be so filled up that I light up like my niece does. From that place I would have so much more to give to others. I could offer my fullness instead of my depletion. I could give because I’m spilling over, not from needing another to need me so I can feel fulfilled.
When I watch her I think, yes, that is how life is meant to be lived. Fully loving ourselves and being so filled up inside that we don’t really need anything other than what we’ve got. Feeling enough and therefor having enough. Utter contentment with what is while imagining something even better.
Barely three and she’s my favorite teacher. I’ll let my self-help books gather dust on the shelf and just watch her.
I want to live like she lives.
Tell stories for the sake of sharing them, not caring if anyone listens or even understands.
Pursue joy for the sake of joy. Skip. Play. Laugh.
Delight in the little things
Love myself as I am without question.
So when I grow up?
When I grow up I want to be like her. I want to be so filled up I’m spilling over. I want to feel such appreciation for myself that I don’t need to hear praise or acknowledgment from anyone, but welcome it graciously when it comes my way. I want to know my worth so deeply that I never question it. I want to know that others can find the same and that they don’t need my help to get there, but they might just be inspired by my example.
I want people look at me and say: “she’s so full of herself”.
I’ll smile, delighted, and say: “thank you”, while thinking: “I know.”
Then I’ll treat myself to another cookie.