What It Means to Forgive Myself
I’ve always had a relatively hard time forgiving myself.
Take, for example, the weekly extracurricular activities I did as a student. Even though I knew my teacher would get mad if I didn’t practice beforehand, I once skipped out on a lesson and hung out with my friends instead. Understandably, my teacher was upset with me, but even more so, I was deeply disappointed with myself. I was unable to tell myself that it was “just one slip-up,” and the fun outing with my friends felt like a waste of time.
There’s another example as an adult. Although I was doing my best to be environmentally conscious and lead a vegan lifestyle, I eventually got caught up in work and let my good habits fall by the wayside. When I accidentally stocked up on totally non-vegan frozen foods, I fell into a pit of despair, disgusted with myself for not being able to stick to my own resolutions.
I doubt other people view me as perfect, but at the very least, I wanted to live up to my own standards and maintain a perfect self-image.
After getting upset with myself over the smallest things for the umpteenth time and not forgiving myself for those mistakes, the stress finally took a toll on my mind and body. Of course, that wasn’t the only factor, but the fact that I was unable to extend myself any self-compassion had apparently worn me out even more than I’d realized.
Fashion, which had been one of my biggest passions, no longer mattered. Even cafés, which I loved going to for a change of pace, wasn’t an option—the thought had been completely driven from my mind. There were days when I couldn’t get out of bed at all, and before I knew it, I had spent a whole day without having eaten anything. Other times, I was unable to fall asleep, and I would stay awake until the following morning despite not having anything to do. I couldn’t even check social media since everyone’s lives seemed so perfect, and replying to my LINE messages became the most excruciating task of them all. For several months, I felt empty and exhausted day after day. And still, I was unable to forgive myself for not being able to muster the strength to keep pushing on.
One day, while spacing out, I began crying—first a trickle, then a flood. That was when I decided to visit my parents.
Even after going home, I couldn’t tell my parents about my condition for a while. They would probably be terribly worried if I told them what was going on, and besides, I didn’t feel the need to say anything since I felt like I was able to act like my normal self in front of them. However, after enjoying our first meal together in a while, chatting, and staying up a bit late to watch movies together, I found myself slowly opening up to them.
Having heard my story, my parents took me on drives and trips to the beach, making ample time for me to relax with them and our dog. We had lots of good food outdoors and plenty of long chats about all sorts of stuff. After spending time like that, I finally began to feel like it was okay to forgive myself for not being perfect. If there were people who worried about me and loved me this much despite me not being perfect at all, then perhaps it was okay to loosen up a bit, forgive myself for my little mistakes, and live life at a slower pace.
This goes without saying, but I was obviously unable to write for Blossom during my breakdown. Perhaps one of the reasons for my writer’s block was my need for my articles to be as perfect as possible (at least by my own standards, that is). I put too much pressure on myself to write properly structured articles with clear references that would resonate with Blossom’s readers.
However, for the first time ever, I wrote an article about myself without any references. It may not be well organized nor have an impressive conclusion, but I’d like to forgive myself for writing a piece like this for a change. As you can see, I have no advice to offer anyone who might be struggling the way I did, but if it inspired even one person to become just a little bit kinder to themself, then perhaps that’s all that matters.
It’s taken many years for my personality and way of thinking to get to this point, so I don’t expect it to change anytime soon. Although it’s highly unlikely that I’ll be able to rid myself of my perfectionist self completely, I’m able to relax a bit, forgive myself, and breathe a little easier these days. Even if we’re not perfect, maintaining a healthy mind and body will probably make you, me, and the people who are important to us the happiest.
Translated by Yuko C. Shimomoto
Edited by Emiru Okada
Graphic by Ayumi White