(A note from 2022: I wrote this years ago, and clearly there are worse quotes on the internet. This was before Trump was in office and I was aiming for a clickbait title as I tried to gain traction with my baby blog. So, let’s just let this fake outrage over a simple little quote live in a bubble. K? k.)
It is a sneakily destructive quote for relationships and personal growth.
We’ve all seen the quote. It floats around social media sites and countless memes have stemmed from it. It’s been attributed to Marilyn Monroe, but the actual source is unknown. The quote I’m talking about reads:
“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”
But most people edit it down to just:
If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.
It sounds empowering to those who embrace their flaws. We all have flaws. We all have baggage. It’s unfair for someone to expect their partner to be perfect, but it’s even more unfair to expect our partners to put up with our dysfunctional or unhealthy behaviors as a sign of love.
We’ve all been there.
I’m not pretending to have my sh*t together. I used to cling to this quote. I used to hold it as a standard. “Yes! My worst SHOULD be accepted and handled because that’s who I AM and the internet told me so!”
Until I learned that my worst was actually really unhealthy. My worst was holding me back. My worst is sometimes a black hole that I get lost in. Believing someone should be able to handle my internal sh*tstorm stunted my emotional growth. Why change bad habits if the right person should embrace them, right?
This quote is an anchor to the past. Don’t let it hold you back.
Our lives have shaped us in ways that we often aren’t aware of. Insecurities that may develop from childhood, trust issues from past relationships, or lack of emotional control from getting everything or nothing that we wanted/needed. We are conditioned from birth, but quite often we don’t realize we can rewire our brains to react differently and overcome our past.
Bullsh*t quotes like this enable us to stay stubbornly attached to our current selves. Possibly even our damaged selves. It gives us permission to hold onto our insecurities, let our emotions run wild, and act selfishly.
It tells us it’s okay to be a hot mess because a good partner will put up with it.
A partner that doesn’t want to put up with our sh*t might actually be the best thing for us.
They will still love us at our worst, but they should never be expected to like it or handle it, and quite frankly they are under no obligation to continue loving us if our worst becomes our everything. At that point, we are asking someone else to sacrifice their well-being to cater to our emotional dysfunctions.
I had a choice in front of me. Be miserable or take control.
It took me a long time to gain clarity, and it was painful to start poking and prodding at my deeply ingrained bad habits, but it was worth it.
I was the epitome of a hot mess. More than a few times, actually. The most recent bout of my ‘worst’ coming to the forefront was too much even for me to handle. It was unfair to expect anyone to deal with me in that state.
The only option I had was to stop giving myself permission to be a selfish sh*thead and figure out how to improve myself.
We are all a work in progress. We are always growing and changing, but some become more stagnant than others because it’s easy. It’s easy to get stuck in our flaws and ignore how they negatively affect our relationships.
It’s easy to blame others for our unhappiness–but we have complete control over our emotions. We just have to take it.
I used to externalize the source of my negative emotions. I’d blame other people, my environment, my upbringing, and my genetics. I didn’t want to take on the responsibility of fixing myself, because I believed it wasn’t my fault I was broken.
Here’s the truth: It doesn’t matter how we got to our current state. It doesn’t matter if it was self-inflicted or thrust upon us. We are the only ones who can be truly accountable for who we are moving forward.
Ignore that stupid and enabling quote. It will only hold us back and deprive us of a chance to become the next version of ourselves. Do a little introspection and adopt a new quote:
If you can’t handle me at my worst, I’ll work on it, because you deserve me at my best.
We all deserve ourselves at our best.