The total package: looks, brains, and personality.  Or so we say.

It isn’t uncommon for us to think of people who possess these qualities as having it all or the potential to have it all.  We seem to assume that someone who does have the “total package” surely has better chances of being happy than those who don’t.  I think the truth is that whether or not you fit the description of what is usually considered the “total package” isn’t that relevant in your chances of being fulfilled.  I think what truly influences your chances of fulfillment is your ability to embrace your totality, and the ability of those around you to hold you in your totality.

By totality I mean all of who you are– the good and bad, the sweet and bitter, the pretty and ugly– regardless of how you fit into the idea of the total package.  To me, embracing your totality means that you can be kind to yourself and accepting of yourself even at (or especially at) your worse moments.  Being held in your totality by those around you means they can be in the presence of your worse moments and not lose sight of all of who you are.  Practicing this kind of love toward yourself and others is so much easier said than done.

I read somewhere that you become aware of your totality only when you are incited by the presence of the other, when you are enhanced by the presence of the other.  I think this is so true.  The presence of another raises so many anxieties about who we are and about how the other person will respond to who we are, that it almost leaves no choice but to be conscious of your totality.  That distress of the first stages of relationships, particularly romantic relationships– the intensity of feelings, the ambiguity of the connection, the uneasiness of what may or may not come– pushes you to expose yourself.  Naked.  Vulnerable.  Those of us who can manage the discomfort of so much uncertainty truly stand to be enhanced by the experience, regardless of the outcome.  You need to be open to the possibility of enhancement, though.  You need to believe that it is possible for you to be a better person and that it is possible for this improvement to happen in the reciprocity of relationships.  You need to not be afraid of letting this happen, not be afraid of believing, trusting, loving, and being loved.  In the right company, your totality is understood and allowed to just be.

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