Once upon a time, I gave my all. I gave my all to everyone and everything in my life. My eagerness to drain my own well came from a place of deep insecurity. I’d been left before, abandoned by both family, friends, and lovers. I took it hard. I was convinced that it was my fault- it had to have been, right? I didn’t give enough to make them recognize my value, so what was there to make you stay? Cue the long years throughout high school and college where the loudest part of my personality was my undying eagerness to people-please.

Once upon a different time, my life took a dramatic 180*. I was introduced to and became a devote practitioner of this new millennial religion called “self-love”. Now cue the endless Pinterest quotes and Instagram models telling me that I couldn’t possibly think of filling other’s cups from my own if mine was empty. These inspirational quotes became my Bible, my guiding source in life. Looking back, it is easy to see that I took it too far, but at the time, before walking off the plank, this was the mentality that I so required in order to evolve from a people-pleasing door mat to a person strong in their convictions.

I learned that it was okay to not be okay. I didn’t owe anyone a damn explanation. In fact, if someone demanded I explain myself, I determined I probably didn’t need them in my life. I deflected any responsibility and deemed these people as “toxic”.

Sometime early in my new-found devotion, I left a circus of a relationship, I healed from previous trauma (as much as one can heal from trauma), and I actively began working on myself. I strived to continue moving forward and always fought hard to covet my new source of peace.

I spent the next two years with very few relationships that were anything more than superficial. Work, gym, lovers, friends…I had my true blue go-to’s of course, but I can count those blessed people on one hand. And, as we know, adult friendships are very different from friendships in youth in terms of maintenance. Life happens, work happens, family happens…

So, what I’m trying to say is, I had no one to fact check me.

My self-love crossed a line into the realm of self-centeredness and selfishness.

What do I gain from this?

What have they done for me lately?

Can I use this to my advantage?

I covered the truth of these motives by telling myself that if I was in a position the be the one who gave more, did more, whatever more more more was, than the other person must be toxic and someone who negatively affected my mental health.

That is until I finally allowed someone into my life who not only had the balls to challenge my perspectives and habits but pushed me to do better. He pushed me to aspire to be the next version of myself in my journey of growth and maturity.

It was a struggle, to say the least. I had used the term “self-love” and cultivated many self-serving practices in the name of building myself back up. In reality, I deprived myself of the possibility of meeting new people that I wrote off purely because they wanted something from me without “giving” me something first. Selfish of me, much? I had associated the meaning of being a giver to being weak. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Being brave enough to put yourself out there by encompassing “more” takes way more balls than to shut yourself off and only endlessly consume from your environment.

Moving forward, I regularly rely on him as my team mate to continue to check me and support me in my growth, as I do for him as well. No one is perfect, especially when you’re attempting to navigate new waters.

I try to be better at balancing the cost of certain acts to my mental health to what the outcomes are. For instance, how can I give something to or do something for another person that could improve their well-being without draining my own cup? Instead of giving 100% all, or 100% nothing, what can I do in the middle? The Goldilocks of giving, if you will.

In doing so, I do feel more vulnerable, and I’m scared that I could still put myself in a situation to be taken advantage of. But I must learn to trust others good intentions until I have good reason to suspect otherwise. If someone actually is taking advantage of me, I suppose I tell myself that they obviously needed whatever they needed this time, but I will no longer expend any kind of energy on them. You got me this time, but now I’m smarter for it.

I encourage everyone to accept themselves and to accept others as they are. However, true growth comes from having a continuous and honest conversation with yourself. Self-evaluation can guide your path, and help you bloom. My advice would to make sure that whatever you bloom in to is closer to a giving tree and far from a weed.

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

By Mandee Ramella

Mandee is a warrior and has lived by the Spotter Up mantra for years, unbeknownst to her. She thrives on fun facts and aims to know, at the very minimum, a little about a lot. Her interests span a multitude of fields. Talk to her about anything. She spends the majority of her free time spoiling her two dogs and kicking her own ass in the gym. She likes to lift heavy things and then put them down. If you can’t find Mandee on the ground, look to the sky. She loves to climb shit, despite her fear of heights. She’s absolutely a Harry Potter nerd and definitely a subpar chef in the kitchen, thanks to her many years in fine dining management. She shoots a lot of pool, has a lot of tattoos, and pets as many dogs as she possibly can. If it’s less than 85 degrees out, it’s too cold. She loves being surrounded by big, green, leafy plants but plant tags that say “thrive on neglect” do the best in her household. In 2014, she graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and spent the next few years running away from her degree. She has since returned to school to pursue her Master’s Degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, with the eventual aim to work as an independent business consultant. She was introduced to the importance of self-defense at a young age by her dad. Although she was always in the presence of firearms, it wasn’t until recently that she was provided the opportunity to dive face-first into the gun community. Mandee was immediately enthralled by what was being shown to her, but had trouble relating to the pink, sparkly, bubblegum Barbie image many stores pushed in order to appeal to their female customers. Her aim, among many other things, is to show that you can be a strong, decisive, independent, feminine gun-toting badass without subscribing to a certain image. I WILL FIND A WAY OR I WILL MAKE ONE. SPOTTER UP!

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