“Make yourself important,” he always said to me with exasperation.
I couldn’t at the time, but his words never left me. I had only just begun to realize that me and my life mattered. That my wants and needs mattered, and I was allowed to take up space. But I didn’t know how to do it, and it didn’t feel safe.
“Make yourself important” has reverberated in my cells ever since, and I’ve finally begun living in alignment with its sentiment.
My wants and needs are important.
My standards are relevant.
My boundaries deserve respect.
I’m worthy of real consideration for who I am, not just how I fit into other people’s desires.
Others can love and value us, but it holds far less weight when we don’t love and value ourselves. No one else can build our sense of worth and deservingness but us. No one can set our standards or boundaries for love, care, or connection. No one can say what’s most important to our lives and well-being.
I still hear his voice in my head, a steady and commanding whisper that’s never left.
“Make yourself important.”
And so I do.
I make myself and my wants and needs matter. I set clearer boundaries. I hold higher standards. I take up more and more space.
But it’s a continuous practice, and I know I’m not the only one who learned to be small as a way to stay safe from trauma and abuse. Who made myself palatable to earn a false sense of safety, security, love, and belonging.
So to my feller shrinkers, let me pay it forward and say: make yourself important.
Because you are.
Your life, your wants, and your needs matter.
You deserve to take up space.