As soon as the conversation ends, my therapist swoops in like Batman with her favorite question to pick it back up.
“What else is going on?”
WHAP! It hits me like a Batarang.
Great, I guess the session isn’t over yet. I’m going to have to keep talking about myself, my least favorite subject. I let out a sigh and tell my therapist the big secret, “Today’s my birthday. I’m 38.”
She does the whole, “Happy birthday! That’s so exciting! What are you doing to celebrate?!” shtick.
“Nothing. Not even cake,” I say.
Incredulous, she blurts out, “Why not?!”
“I guess I don’t feel like I even deserve a birthday, I kinda suck,” I reply, and as soon as the words leave my lips, I know it’s checkmate. I’ll be locked up in Arkham Asylum before the day is out.
However, for the first time in my life, I was wrong, and through my therapist’s unknowable mercy, we reached a plea deal. They’ll release me from this cage as soon as I write a list of 38 things I love about myself. Thirty-eight because I just turned 38. Cute, right? So, here it is, for your reading pleasure. Let the record show someone is coercing me to do this.
- I’m funny. If you’ve known me for any amount of time already, you know I dabble in comic relief, from the silly to the hilarious to the downright offensive. Humor is probably the only saving grace that’s kept me alive through my lifelong depression. I love it.
- Sense of humor. Why do you think I’m so funny? I can appreciate a good joke. I’ve spent a lot of time taking in comedy through various forms and cultures. I have a deep understanding and love for it. Humor makes the world a better place.
- Drawing. I love that I draw. It allows me to go to a peaceful place of creativity and gives my mind a chance to slow down. It’s like a secret hideout free from worry where anything is possible. I highly recommend it to anyone who doesn’t draw. Yes, everyone can learn to draw.
- My eye for beauty. Most of my childhood, I was quiet and said next to nothing. I was taking in the world, which allowed me to listen to what I saw, heard, and experienced, and taught me how to find the true beauty in everything. It’s a priceless gift.
- My quiet intensity. When you say very little, the words you do say are worth more. People want you to expose what’s in your mind so they can understand and judge you or your position. Staying quiet has worked in my favor more often than not. Sometimes it prevented me from saying my first thought, which could’ve been wrong or hurtful. In my professional life, during negotiations, it gave me more leverage than I deserved. It turns out there are situations in life where it’s beneficial when people can’t read you.
- My voice. People have always loved my deep voice. Women appreciate it, and men are typically jealous of it. I came to love it myself when I spent years recording music and participating in rap battles. People always say I have a great rap voice.
- My bounce back. I never stay down. It doesn’t matter how hard I get hit; I always get back up. I love that.
- My hobbies. I love playing video games. I’ve done it my whole life and don’t think I’ll ever stop. Some people think video games are a waste of time, but they have many benefits, like reducing stress, improving decision-making skills, and easing pain.
- The lives I’ve changed. It’s no wonder I love the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I love how I’ve made a positive difference in other people’s lives, even if they’re no longer around, and I love having the chance to matter to more still.
- My bravery. I love that I’m able to decide to keep moving forward despite the overwhelming uncertainty in life. Even when all hope seems lost, I will take another step in the darkness instead of giving up. I love that about myself.
- My honesty. How can I ever know the truth if I participate in the proliferation of lies? This thought occurred to me when I realized how impossible ascertaining the truth of any matter is. If we do not take great care and personal responsibility, we might accept lies as the truth. That would be a great miscarriage of justice. I love my dedication to being honest.
- My love of learning. I love that I’m willing and open to continue learning, even though my school days are way behind me.
- My open mind. I’m open to new ideas and willing to try new things I haven’t before. My opinion can change for the better. It’s great.
- My intelligence. I love my ability to learn, understand, and reason. There are so many problems in life, so it helps if you can figure out how to solve them.
- I know when to shut up. There is a time to stop talking, mainly if you find yourself heading in the wrong direction, i.e., digging your own grave. I’m happy with my ability to discern these moments.
- I can appreciate silence. Growing up as a quiet person, I’ve always enjoyed moments of silence — a small breath in the chaos of life.
- I’m dependable. I love how I’m able to be there when people need me. It feels good to be reliable and have people trust me.
- My creativity. I’ve always been creative, so it feels like part of my soul, but I’m grateful for it. It turns out life requires all kinds of ingenuity to make it through the day. I’m glad creativity was fostered in me and not snuffed out.
- I trust others. My willingness to trust is a strength not everyone has. I’m glad I understand my confidence level in other people’s reliability. I love how I’m able to build trust with others over time.
- I’m not afraid to start over. When you have to start over, it sucks. I’ve done it in so many different ways throughout my life, and it’s never easy, but I love having the courage to do it whenever it becomes necessary.
- The way I care about everyone. Caring about people is important to me because I know what it feels like when nobody cares about you. For the good of the world, we need to care about everyone.
- I only give good advice. I want to make a positive impact on this world. That’s why I only provide information I genuinely believe to be good. I don’t tell people to do things if I haven’t carefully weighed them in my mind. Whether they follow through with said advice is another story entirely.
- I live a meaningful life. Making a positive impact means doing something useful with your life. I love that I can make it meaningful not only to others but to myself as well. That’s why I’ve decided to give back through the arts in whatever ways become possible to me. I have plans, man.
- I’m willing to follow my dreams. My dreams were always rooted in creation. In my teens, I wanted to go to school and learn how to design video games, but I didn’t do it. I gave up on my dreams. After college, I went into logistics. It wasn’t my bag. I left and starting doing freelance design, which I had no previous knowledge of, and now I’m reaching for the stars. I love it.
- I show myself compassion. Well, this is one to grow on apparently, but even the fact that I’m able to write this list shows I’m capable of it. I love the idea of learning self-compassion. I’m finding the time to heal and recoup whenever life wrecks me.
- I endure when life wrecks me. Everything that has come my way up until this exact moment, I’ve survived it all. How amazingly resilient are we as humans? I’m very grateful to be stronger than I ever thought I was.
- I’m not afraid to show emotion. Letting others know how you feel is hard for some because they think it’s a sign of weakness, but it’s a sign of vulnerability, and gasp, humanity. It’s easy (though harmful) to keep your emotions bottled up, but it requires courage to be authentic and constructively express your feelings. I’m glad I have that courage.
- I’m not afraid of a challenge. Would I rather things be easy? Probably, but I’m not opposed to rolling up my sleeves and tackling some tough shit. I love that about myself.
- I’m raising my children in a better environment than I had. I’m a better father, my kids go to better schools, and they live in a better area than I did growing up. I’m proud of it all.
- I’m living in the present. For a long time, I loathed the present and ached for the future. Eventually, I realized waiting for the future to be happy is a trap, and there’s no time like the present to be content. I love understanding that every moment of our life is a gift.
- My ability to say no. I love how I can say no. It gives me the chance to set boundaries and protect my time and energy. I don’t want to let others have the keys to my most valuable resources.
- My commitment to become a better person. I’m happy to recognize nobody’s perfect, which means we all have room for improvement. I’m always open to becoming a better person, not only for myself but for the world as a whole.
- My flexibility. No, I’m not secretly a gymnast, but I am willing to accept change and compromise. I love having flexibility in my life because I care about other people.
- My curiosity. I love it when I come across something I don’t know much about, and I get a burning desire to learn more.
- I don’t take life too seriously. How can you, when none of us get out alive? If you’re too serious, you’ll suck all the fun out of everything; it’s a scientific fact. I’m happy I don’t do that.
- My ability to forgive. In a world where we all make mistakes, I’m grateful I’m able to forgive other people. It frees me up to move forward with my life and not get stuck in the past.
- My ability to listen. When you care about other people, it’s an excellent skill to have. It helps me show people I’m paying attention to their thoughts and feelings, and that’s a big deal to me.
- My determination. I love my persistence. Life can shower you with all kinds of difficulty, and it’s vital to be able to push through despite it all. With determination, I can overcome any obstacle.
And that’s my list. Yep, I somehow managed to conjure up 38 whole things I love about myself, and none of them are about my appearance. Heck, if I can do it, so can you. After all, you don’t have to be Batman to find things you love about yourself.
Now somebody, please let me out of this cell!