Today, I had a friend casually tell me that they adored my soul.
And then suddenly I was crying awkwardly by myself in Starbucks.
We live in a society where what you do and how you look is often seen as more important than who you are. In fact, think about it — what is typically the first thing you ask a new acquaintance?
“So, what do you do?”
You are what you do, what you supposedly contribute. I’ve witnessed this first hand. Since I can remember I’ve been introduced to people as “the dancer.” It was as though, aside from my career, I had no identity.
But where are you left if that identity is taken away from you?
A couple months ago, I was forced to contemplate that question. Suddenly, I found myself unable to do the one thing I’d always been known by. I couldn’t dance, I couldn’t even walk comfortably. Now let me tell you, I freaked out.
Not only did no one else know who I was outside of being a dancer, but I hadn’t the slightest clue either.
If I couldn’t dance, what was I? Was I useless now?
I sank into depression, trying to push my recovering body too hard. I restricted my diet, often going all day on a single cup of coffee. My anxiety kept me up at night and during the day I was always a second away from tears. Mentally and physically exhausted, I found that I had nothing else to give.
It was then, finally, that I started to notice things about myself.
I could make people laugh. I gave excellent hugs and was a good listener, with friends often coming to me just to vent and be heard. I was capable of making people feel comfortable and a little less awkward. I had a proficiency for language and found peace in writing. I read books I’d somehow never found the time to read before. I found that I was brave, I was strong, and I was so, so LOVED.
You are not what you do.
Even if you had no elaborate career to offer, no incredible talents to show, you would still be valuable.
Because you are you.
Look around you. See the colors in a sunset. Feel the wind kiss your skin. Listen to the trees as they rustle their leaves. In all of this crazy, awe-inspiring beauty, you were somehow included. Deemed worthy and needed. A necessity, something given for the world to be more complete. That in itself is incredible. You, just existing.
You are beautiful.
I love you.
— Ericka Goss