I have this obsession with photographing bathroom graffiti. I have pictures of bathroom graffiti from all over the world, including places like London Gatwick airport, 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, and Delphi in Greece (as in the oracle of…).
Lately, I’ve been photographing the bathroom graffiti at the university where I’m doing my post-bacc.
Is this a weird obsession? Yeah, it probably is.
But it’s also fascinating to me to see what others have written on bathroom walls and stalls. (There must be a sub-category that studies psychological motivations behind graffiti and I want in on that research!)
A few weeks, I found the quote, “We accept the love we think we deserve” written across a toilet paper holder. An odd place to write that sentiment, but kind of beautiful nonetheless. I know it certainly struck a cord with me when I saw it.
You see, I used to have a real problem with my self-worth. Actually, in order to have a problem with self-worth you have to have some, and I didn’t.
I couldn’t think of myself in any positive terms.
I was entrenched in shame patterns and never let myself catch a break.
After going through a terrible breakup last year, I started dating again, but those dates never materialized into anything beyond a night of fun…or not so much fun.
When you don’t love yourself, other people can tell.
This was a fact I tried very, very hard to ignore as I kept attracting emotionally stunted men who were both not ready for relationships and also didn’t see me as a real person.
And one night it hit me. The problem wasn’t a lack of good men in the world, it was a lack of self-worth, an absence of the belief that I was worthy of a loving and devoted partner who would see me as a woman, not an object.
I so badly wanted to be loved that I accepted anything that came my way, instead of learning to love myself so that feeling worthy wasn’t a burden placed on my partner. It’s no one’s job except your own to love yourself. No one else can do it for you.
It was then that I decided to weed out the toxic relationships I was still a part of, no matter how much it hurt. I let go of the man I’d been in love with for nearly 3 years, knowing that not being in his life at all was better than being a quasi-friend whom he couldn’t commit to.
I also stopped giving out fourth and fifth chances to friends and guys who didn’t deserve them. Though I’m a forgiving person, there’s a difference between forgiving and a doormat.
I’m no doormat. Not anymore at least.
People will either step up and treat you the way you deserve to be treated, or they won’t. If they can’t or don’t want to step up, move away and move on. Their presence in your life is just not worth it if they consistently hurt you.
This weeding out yielded some miracles in my own life.
I started making new connections that turned into friendships. I started meeting people who had the same standards and values as I do and who were willing to stand next to me and support me as I did the same for them.
I began to receive more attention from guys I was actually interested in, but I also didn’t need them to like me because I loved myself enough to not depend on their feelings.
Reciprocal relationships don’t drag you down. They don’t exhaust you. They energize you and lift you up.
But these only work out if you value yourself enough to wait for them and to work for them.
Remember that you are worthy and lovable, and you deserve that love from yourself and others.
As the week begins, keep this in mind and act in a way that’s consistent with these truths until you believe them.
Life is a string of miracles waiting to happen, so let them happen.