I do something quirky when I fall into a slump with myself. This is the first time I am admitting to it.
When a day comes along where I lose sight of myself as an individual I head up to the third floor of the college library. I power through the shelves of books to where catalog numbers PS meet PR and locate a book with the card number: PS3563.08749. I know it by heart.
The book is Toni Morrison’s Beloved, a novel that hardly allows me to draw any parallels to my own life. The cover is worn, the pages are torn. The message never breaks. It is hidden like a gem in the back of the book and I read it over and over again, sucking out the sweetness in the spaces and the syllables:
He wants to put his story next to hers.
“Sethe,” he says, “me and you, we got more yesterday than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow.”
He leans over and takes her hand. With the other he touches her face. “You your best thing, Sethe. You are.” His holding fingers are holding hers.
Ok, I am a literature geek. I get that. I accept that. (P.s. I love it). But something about this line just hits me. It has hit me ever since I first laid eyes on it last year and began to cry in the middle of my literature class at the beauty of the statement. You your best thing. The broken message brings me back to the beauty in my own self. Every. Single. Time.
How often do we forget that we are indeed our best thing? Even worse, we insist on comparing ourselves to others. I am not as good as her. I will never be like him. I will never get as far as she has. What a terrible, terrible disservice we do to ourselves in knocking ourselves down all these notches. We think, why should someone ever look to me or want to be like me?
Well enough of this. Enough of not being good enough or not being like someone else. Clearly there is a very good reason for our individualism, so that I can do my thing and you can do your thing.
We need to embrace our individualism. We need to be our best thing.
So here is to “being our best things.”
I am my best thing.
I know hunger statistics like the back of my hand. I am great at baking cupcakes. I am not an awesome singer, but I have more soul than Mariah Carey. I can turn just about anything into a legitimate debate on feminism. I am an excellent dancer and gifted at rapping (if I do say so myself). I am ambitious and outgoing, passionate and poised. I could put you to shame in a Lil’ Wayne trivia contest and I would have made a heck of a forensic pathologist had I had not discovered that I did not like dead bodies. I am anxious but in a good way, full in the best way. I am healthy and I am strong; I can curl more weight than a handful of guys in the weight room and I concoct a killer smoothie. I have an eye for literature and a knack for prose. I have dreams in my head and I am a straight shooter; I speak my mind and I stand up for injustice. If I had been lived in the 60s I would have made one hell of a protester but if I had lived in the 20s you would have thought I was a great flapper. And if by chance I had been around in 1912, Jack Dawson would have fallen for me on the Titanic. Of this I am sure. I am a good communicator, a great debater. I am getting better each day with listening and even my flaws are beautiful. I can make people laugh (even if most of the time they are only laughing because I find myself so funny) and I can laugh at life. I am Irish. I am German. I am Slovakian. And I am proud. I wake up every morning and I show up for life. I do my part and trust I am doing enough.
I am my best thing.
Am I perfect? Far from it. But I am the best version of myself and I am no imitation of someone else.
I am my best thing and you your best thing.
What makes you your best thing?