I spent the past weekend with my family, celebrating one of my cousin’s birthdays. It’s Leo season, so naturally we hosted barbecues for two days in a row. The man of the hour arrived late to the second one. The trip home provided a much-needed and welcomed change of pace after the last few weeks. I think it’s unwise for anyone to move to the city without a designated escape. It could be anything from an old haunt to a new hobby, but it should be something meaningful enough to pull you out of the manic monotony of the city.
For me that escape is my family, from whom I am constantly learning to become a better person. It goes further than reforming bad habits and learning financial solvency. My family has a way of chipping away at the notorious narcissism of my zodiac sign (and my generation). When surrounded by unconditional acceptance, one can learn to look further than themselves and appreciate the world around them. When family has your back, you can stand tall and walk proudly, knowing that they see past the wrinkles in your clothes and love you at face value.
In light of this trip home, I’ve realized that folding clothes is a big deal. I’ve also been thinking a lot about the ways in which we connect and reconnect to others. I confessed at the end of last week that I have a lot to learn in this department. Upon further reflection, I realized a tendency to delay or eschew connecting with people until I accomplish some outside goal. Typically, it’s an objective that would in fact improve my life, which makes me feel justified in displacing personal relationships in pursuit of it. I can catch up with friends once I find a job. I’ll be a better daughter once I get my finances together. I’ll be a better cousin/sister/aunt once I feel more settled.
The key mistake in this line of thinking is the belief that one can achieve anything without relying on others. The great thing about family (and the truest of friends) is that they love you as you are now and, in doing so, help you get to where you should be. Now, should is a dangerous word because it implies expectations that are troublesome at best, and disparaging at worst. It typically means that you’re peering over someone else’s shoulder and pitting yourself against what you see. But the best thing you can do for yourself is keep your eyes on the mirror…if that ain’t the most Leo thing you’ve ever heard.
I should clarify—goals should be individual, and determined by your unique talents and paths rather than comparisons to others. The thing about family is that they see you for who you are, and for who you can be. They focus on THAT comparison (you vs. You) in a way that you might not always be. Hell, while I’m worried sick about what I’m achieving in comparison to my peers, my mom can only remember the name of ONE of the friends I’ve had in my lifetime without difficulty. Loved ones have a refreshing perspective on what’s specifically best for you and, ideally, default to lifting you up towards your best self rather than comparing you to others.
You can probably notice this habit in yourself, too. When’s the last time you compared someone you truly cared about to someone else? E.g., man, I wish Whoever was more like Who Cares. If you have, I think that’s a sign of trouble. You might want to reflect on the (unrealistic) expectations you’re putting on Whoever and the (unfounded) idealization of Who Cares. And if by chance you’re at the receiving end of this comparison, do the same reflection and then come to the conclusion that you should DROP THAT HATER. #UnsolicitedAdviceoftheDay
I want to add that family can (and often does) include the people you choose to befriend and care for. I feel blessed to be born and sworn into a family that I am eternally grateful for, but I understand that’s not the case for everyone. Hopefully you’re reading this and have someone in mind that gifts you the feeling of acceptance. Familial love isn’t solely a byproduct of DNA. The families we craft are just as powerful as the nests we flee, if we allow them to be.