Of all of the nutty places to find an epiphanic connection, Saturday Night Live? Of all of the people to spout the words of wisdom that are still resonating with me a day after hearing them, Sarah Silverman???
While sitting on the lap and lovingly petting the shiny blond hair of a spectacled audience member, Ms. Silverman said:
“I hope that you are as kind to yourself as you are to any schmo on the street.”
Naturally, this was a part of a gag where the self-admitted “blue” comedienne expected reciprocity for her kind, self-esteem building sentiments. Yet, there was a sincerity to it, because I think Sarah Silverman (like most American woman) has faced being way too hard on herself throughout her life.
I’m too hard on myself! I am! When I make a mistake or a bad decision, I feel so disappointed, no amount of retribution from anyone else comes close to torturing me as much as I torture myself. A misstep has me questioning my worth and character to such depths, it’s ridiculous. I waste far too much time beating myself up for past errors, present lacking, and a desired future I feel is impossibly unattainable because I ultimately don’t believe I deserve it. Will I ever be happy with the way I look, the amount of energy I have, the size of my bank account, or the legacy I leave behind when I die if I don’t change this self-depreciative loop in my head?
Would I treat any schmo on the street this way? Never! If a friend, acquaintance, or even a stranger came up to me and said, “I suck! I haven’t accomplished as much as I should have and I’ve screwed up and I’m so old to be starting over the way I am!!” I would say, “Oh, sweetie, no no no! YOU are wonderful! You are beautiful! You are HUMAN! Give yourself a break and enjoy the moment you’re in. You’re alive, surrounded by amazing people and an amazing world, and every trip, stumble, or fall up to this point were just lessons to be learned. There may be more, but you’re getting better at avoiding them, and better at recovering from them because you have life experience, support, and you’re WONDERFUL!”
At some point, I have to give myself the same courtesy I happily offer to others. I think today’s just as good of a day as any to start.