2:24 AM

According to Nics

It’s 2:24 AM and my eyes are glued to my bedroom ceiling. I can hear with perfect clarity, the swoosh of the odd car as it drives past my window, the sound of my refrigerator as it hums softly in the distance and the slow steady drip of the faucet that I didn’t completely shut off after my last trip to the kitchen to get a drink of magical insomnia-curing water.

While there is no doubt that when my alarm goes off in a mere 4 hours and I’m forced to walk out into the world, that I will do so as a sleep deprived, aggressively sarcastic and easily irritable human being, but in this moment all I can do is smile.

Smile? Well, that took a sharp turn down, “what the f$#k are you talking about lane” if I ever did see one. Trust me, I even threw myself off with this one.

Something inside of me has shifted. I’ve felt this way for a while now, but haven’t been able to quite put my finger on it (and to be completely honest, I’m still not sure that I have a handle on the entire amazing picture, but I’m getting damn close to at least making out the edges). To the naked eye, I’m still the same Nics – I look the same, I dress the same, I talk the same, I laugh the same, I work in the same place, I hang out with the same people, and yet as I stare up at the ceiling on this cool November morning, I feel like an entirely different person.

Difficult conversations have a habit of sneaking into your life now and again – I’ve recently had my fair share. Conversations that were inevitable regardless of how long I put them off. Conversations filled with love and frustration and fear. Conversations that saw smiles emerge through the many (and I mean many) tears. Conversations that didn’t end the way I had hoped but ended nonetheless.

Last year, these exchanges would have knocked me on my ass and sucked the air right out of my lungs. Last year I would have walked out the door and instantly been hit by a wave of self-doubt, insecurity and anger so large that I would have had no choice but to throw my hands up and be taken under by the sheer force of it all. Yet here I am, staring at my ceiling in stillness…smiling.

Like I said, an entirely different person.

Through the moments of frustration and happiness, of fear and love, I’ve found strength within myself that I never knew was there. A strength that I wouldn’t have discovered unless placed in this very situation at this very time in my life. I’ve learned that the most important love is that which you have for yourself. Self-love is the thing that so many of us overlook, but is what I believe to be the key to our happiness.

When you love yourself, you can love others fiercely and fearlessly. When you love yourself, you can live each day openly and without expectations. When you love yourself, you can accept others for who they are as opposed to what you need them to be. When you love yourself, you can face anything that life places at your feet because the only thing you really need is to love and accept yourself. Isn’t that what we’re all searching for anyways, love and acceptance? The secret is that instead of looking outside, you need to turn your focus within.

I don’t know when or where (actually, I’d bet good money that it was on my yoga mat) or how, but I’ve found that self-love within myself. It’s not perfect, it’s not without it’s moments of doubt, and it’s most definitely still a work in progress, but the point is that it’s there. This doesn’t mean that I don’t need or want love from others in my life, what it means that I’m able to love freely. Self-love teaches the priceless lesson that your happiness is not rooted in someone else, but can only be truly found deep within yourself. Once you’ve come to this mind-blowing realization, you can truly enjoy the people, places and moments that life brings you because you know that regardless of what changes, the happiness that you’ve found within can never be taken away.

While I can’t tell you where I’ll be a year from now or who will be there with me, I’m beginning to trust that life has a funny way of giving you exactly what you need exactly when you need it (even if you’re unsure of it at the time). And at 4:17 AM, that’s more than enough for me.

According to Nics…

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