On Being Hard to Love…

I don’t have any game. None. I am the sidewalk before someone draws the hopscotch on it. Once, I locked eyes with a guy I had never met, smiled and uttered the word “Hi!” and he immediately responded with “You’re… A LOT!”

I am So Much. Like I am So A Lot.

Something I often get told is “Joanna, you’re TOO nice”. There is a difference between “too” and “so”. When someone says “She’s so pretty!” , what they mean is there are different levels of pretty and this person is #NextLevel. When someone says “She’s too pretty” , what they mean is “she looks superficial and I hate her”. When I get told I’m too nice, what is meant is that my nice-ness must be controlled. Lowered. It isn’t being used effectively and in fact, might be detrimental. I have yet to find the balance of nice. A friend once told me I talked a lot: “I said you talk a lot, I didn’t say you talk too much”. Balance (sorta…). We are all striving for equilibrium.
Still, I often feel that I am simultaneously never enough but always too much.

Like There is an Overwhelming Amount of Me

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by someone? Like that poor guy who was just so done with me after one syllable? There are some people whose very being overwhelms me. They take up a lot of space. TOO much space. Maybe I feel that way because they reflect things I wish I could be – or worse – things I am, but wish I wasn’t. I try my best not to overwhelm people which is code for “I am judgy AF”. I meet someone, suss them out and ultimately – judge them. I decide what I think they can handle based on the vibe I get (FYI I have a 99% success rate of knowing what folks can handle). Sometimes, that is a considerate thing to do because I think we need to meet people where they’re at. Other times, it’s an exercise in self-harm because I start to believe that it’s me. Hi. I’m the problem. It’s me. I create a narrative that what that specific person can handle is what everyone can handle. I convince myself to make myself small because most people would find all of me overwhelming.

… But I’m Not Hard to Love. It Isn’t Hard to Love Me.

When I feel like I haven’t struck the right balance, I subconsciously begin to believe that I am hard to love. That is a bad feeling and one that has made a home in my head and in my heart. Slowly but surely, that notion is moving out. It’s why I’m so grateful for the people around me with whom I can be myself with. My So much. My A lot. My Overwhelming Amount of Me. I have friends who tell me when I’m out of line and make sure I know they love me anyway. Who make space for my worst qualities but are not overwhelmed by them. For 30 years, I surrounded myself with people and spaces that made me feel like I was hard to love. I stayed because I thought what they were doing was “challenging” me and “forming” me and that being there is what was required to be the best version of myself. That those people were the only ones who reeeaallllyyy loved me and that the only path to truly love yourself was through self-hatred.

I Strongly Believe That

Y’all remember Goldilocks and the Three Bears? What was the point of that story?! A family of bears leaves their home to go out bearing? Then a white girl walks into their place like Joe from You and touches all their shit?! All I remember is that Goldilocks always found 3 things: one that was too much , one that wasn’t enough and one that was just right. So, here is my challenge to you, friends: find the spaces and people that feel just right. Don’t settle for ones that make you feel hard to love. Don’t seek out folks who, under the guise of love, enable the worst in you either. The ones who truly love you call you in before they call you out. They’re intentional about pursuing community with you. They check in. They validate and challenge you in healthy ways. Those people exist for me and you – I believe that! And as much as you can: be that person for others! Seek people out and make sure they are seen.

*ProTip: You cannot be loved if you are not seen and you cannot love if you do not see*

Affirm in people that they deserve to be seen and loved, because they do. You do!
An 18 year old sent me the text at the top of this blog. 18?! I was such a fucking idiot when I was 18! She is not. She is incredible and incredibly easy to love. And she, like many of us, is on a quest to find people and spaces where she is seen and she is loved. So I leave you with her words of wisdom…

You are so much.
Like you are so a lot.
Like there is an overwhelming amount of you.
But you’re not hard to love.
It isn’t hard to love you.
I strongly believe that ❤

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