The tale of the teal couch
I have a teal couch in my living room that’s fur-covered and coffee stained. It’s seen its fair share of spills and wet paw prints. Two of the cushions came with a pattern on the back that I make sure never see the light of day and it looks disheveled no matter how many times I fluff everything back into place. This couch has so many flaws, but it’s really sentimental to me. It represents a time in my life when everything started to change. When I stopped settling for “one day things will be better” and started making one day happen here and now.
It reminds me of a time when I was basically a ball of self-doubt disguised as a "normal" (whatever that means) 25 year old.
It taught me that I could handle anything as long as I believed in myself.
My whole life, I wanted to be independent. I craved freedom more than I craved guac and that is really saying something. There are a few reasons I felt so stuck- one of them being that my dad was really overprotective, and did everything he could so make sure I’d live with him forever. The other was because as a kid I learned that I needed to be pretty, quiet, and selfless above everything else.
While there’s nothing wrong with being pretty, and there’s nothing wrong with being quiet, those qualities became a very limiting way of living for me. And, for the record, I have a huge problem with selflessness. I think that girls learn it’s unkind to put yourself first. We learn that it’s more important to put your own needs aside, so that other people will be comfortable. I know I believed that, and now I can see that I basically wore it as a badge of honor. It was a big shiny trophy saying “look at me, I’m so selfless. Love me! Notice me!”. What I’ve learned over the years is that we’re all just looking for love + approval. We just want to fit in, we want people like us, and selflessness seems like a good way of going about that.
I suggest we take a stab at self-love instead. I think that when we love ourselves more than anything, then we’re not competing for attention anymore. We’re not settling for lives that we don’t love. We’re not balls of self-doubt disguised as normal. But that’s a rant for another day.
So.. back to the couch. A few years ago I basically had enough of feeling so stuck in my life and I knew I needed to move out on my own. I didn’t go away to college, I didn’t go live with my mom after my parents’ divorce. I had never experienced true freedom, I could barely think for myself, let alone know what I wanted to do with my life + go make it happen.
I made the decision, but I didn’t tell my dad right away. I told my friends who had all gotten me apartment warming gifts for my birthday that year. They were all supportive and excited for me- but telling my dad, and breaking his heart, was going to suck. When I finally blurted it out, he didn’t understand. He asked why I would hurt him so bad. Meanwhile- I was moving 10 minutes away. This might sound so outrageous to you, but that was my life. I was basically brainwashed to think that if I didn’t live under his roof, I was abandoning him.
As much as it would have been easier to just give in and make him happy, I knew I couldn’t do that. I owed it to myself to just go and see what would happen.
I was terrified, because I didn’t have a good job. I had never had to pay rent before. But I finally believed in my ability to make it happen. The first thing I bought for my new apartment was the teal couch. It’s really long- Frank and I can both lay on it comfortably. It’s (almost) stain resistant- somehow red wine comes right off. It’s cozy, and it’s mine.
The day it was getting delivered, I went over to the empty apartment and just laid on the floor. I felt so scared that day- I had no idea what I was doing. I was moving out on a waitress’ budget, knowingly pissing off the person who always supported me financially. The self-criticism telling me I was a terrible person was so loud that all I could do was fall asleep on the carpet with the sun beating on my face.
The delivery truck woke me up, the guys brought the couch in, and then they left. It was just me, my new couch, and imprint of the carpet on my face.
That was almost 3 years ago, and today, I’m writing this from that same couch. I don’t feel like a terrible person at all. I still have the love and support of my father, only now it’s on my terms. I still don’t always know what I’m doing, but I know I can figure it out. Now, Frank lives with me, and it’s his couch, too. I get to watch him and our fur-baby take naps on it. (Is that creepy?) It’s a symbol of the life I chose for myself. The one that I wanted so badly, but was scared to reach for.
3 years ago, I chose to trust myself. I chose to believe in myself. I simply chose myself. It was really freaking hard- but it was the best decision I ever made. I’m writing this because I want you to know that you can too. You can create your own story of choosing yourself first, even when it’s really scary. Then you can do it again, and again, and again. And before you know it, you’re letting life get really good, falling in love with yourself, and living out your dreams. That, my friend, is what life is about.
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