My Imaginary Friend

Being Compassionate to Myself

I have a bit of a split personality. Those of you who believe in astrology will put it down to my being a Gemini who was born in the Year of the Horse. I have vigorous debates with myself. I use the Royal “we” when I’m getting myself hyped. “We can do it!” I shout inside my head.

It’s a little nuts.

But it’s always been useful. I question everything I think and believe. It’s a big part of what’s allowed me to grow into a better person over the years.

It’s also been harmful. I’m very good at compartmentalizing, at talking myself into some abstract notion of what’s best for me without really considering my own feelings. There’s a way I’m callous to myself that I’d never be with another person.

I bought into the notion of “tough love” and deployed it against myself with both barrels. The results were… sub-optimal.

Over the past several years, failing more than I’ve succeeded at trying to make a living writing is what’s made me become gentler with myself. Constant self-recrimination creates too much tension and friction to produce creative work that is of any value. Self-reflection is necessary for any person who seeks to keep changing and growing, but unrelenting self-criticism is a paralytic. I learned (less quickly than I would have liked) that I had to stop berating myself to become a better writer. I had to be kinder to myself.

The result: I’ve turned one of the voices in my head into my imaginary friend.

My friend doesn’t have a fixed gender, I’ve come to realize. Perhaps because I’ve always had trouble negotiating the minefield of gendered expectations. I realized something about them was fugazi after a few days of kindergarten and shrugged them off in short order. I wasn’t very good at being a girl. Most of the time I’m not too concerned about being good at being a woman.

I just want to be myself.

My friend calms me down when my mind starts racing to the worst possible conclusions.

My friend tucks me in at night and reassures me that no matter who badly the day went, there are good things waiting for me in the future.

My friend gives me words of encouragement to start the day.

My friend sits quietly next to me when I don’t know what to do.

My friend gives me the courage to keep trying when I don’t know if I can stand any more failure.

My friend isn’t judgmental.

My friend is constant and true.

My friend is kind.

My friend is me.

Be the friend you need to yourself.

Written by

*squinting in Nanny of the Maroons* | Read my essay collection, DISPOSABLE PEOPLE, DISPOSABLE PLANET: books2read.com/u/mBOYNv | IG: kitanyaharrison

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