The Struggle of Being Nice to Yourself

I have a site with a domain “Alex Has Nice Hair.” It’s tongue-in-cheek, sure… Actually, no; I have great fucking hair. It’s that fucking nice! Okay? But seriously, one would think that I would be nice to myself.

But I’m not.

The clichè that we’re our own worst critic is true. However, I’ve somehow taken this concept to new and exciting heights and one might even say I’ve made a national sport of it…

Let’s start with the basics. Am I happy? Yes. I am happy. But… Oh that BUT! That fucking “but!” It’s that but that gets me locked inside my own head. Each time I get to this point where I’m having to say “Dude, lay off yourself buddy. You’re doing what you can” I get frustrated because I should know better. But I forget that I do and so I beat on myself.

I was having breakfast with my buddy, Chris Tolar, and he gave me some encouragement and a reminder that I’m doing pretty damn okay. I don’t know why it sounds better when these words come from someone else, I imagine it’s for the same reason a sandwich tastes better when someone else makes it for you (except if it’s from Subway).

I’m not the only one who struggles with being nice to oneself either. Lots of us are in that boat, too. And we forget that we’re happy; we redefine happiness by ridiculous measures, often comparing ourselves to others. One of the simplest traps to get caught in; yet we do it on a “wash, rinse and repeat” cycle. I don’t think it’s for a lack of self-love or self-worth… I truly think we simply forget to be happy; we forget that we are pretty fucking great.

I heeded the kind words from Chris; and heeded more kind words from my gal, Melissa, too. I held onto these words and I really, really tried to hear them and get what the words meant and I tried to remember. Yes, I am happy… And a number of reasons why I am happy and that I shouldn’t be such a dick to myself.

Going full-time freelance has been scary, hard and great. Running my first marathon was hard, scary and great, meeting someone new and slowly letting them in has been… Well, you get the pattern by now, don’t you?

Day in and day out you’re probably working on someone hard and you probably don’t always have the answers. Many other days you probably feel like a hack; you probably feel like a poopy-flavored popsicle stick which, as we all know, is the most useless flavor of them all!

An old friend of mine, Seth Perles, once said to me: Brother, “assume competence.” You can translate that “fake it until you make it.” Often we’re in this place of assuming competence; of finding our way when we don’t know what direction to go. We don’t have the answers yet each day, we find a way around or through these challenges, or we don’t; we ask for help, gather a brain trust and we “figure that shit out.” And when you do “figure it out” don’t harp on the fact that maybe you couldn’t have done it on your own; focus on the fact that you realized two or more brains were better than just your one. Focus on the fact you had the strength to say “hey, I don’t have all the answers and I don’t fucking know.” Because you know what? That is hard to do. It’s okay, buddy. We’ve all been there, several times… Daily, even. Just be nice to yourself.

Lastly, can you and I make a pact? Just between us, okay; let’s not look to others and try to define our successes and failures by what others have done or are doing. Let’s keep it focused on what we’re doing and where we’re going. I’m fortunate to know a lot of friends who are great at what they do and experience a large amount of success doing what they do. These folks have been at it twenty years; ten years and more, some less. That’s great. Learn from them what you can, they have some great advice to give you. Please remember, most importantly, to be nice to yourself; if you keep working hard good things will happen, but you gotta keep working and while you’re doing all that working and hustling, be sure to pat yourself on the shoulder once in a while and crack open a beer and salute yourself.

Okay, my work here is done. I’ll make you a promise. You keep being nice to yourself; if I catch you slipping up on that, I’ll remind you. But, please, be sure to do the same for me. I’m the World Champion of self-deprecation. Thanks!

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