“Amusement flashed in his eyes. I had fed off that look once, when I had been starving and thought such crumbs a feast.”― Madeline Miller, Circe
Who among us hasn’t gobbled up crumbs? Starving for love or attention or actual nourishment, you jumped at anything others tossed your way — a noncommittal relationship, a shitty job, literal fast food. You’re so grateful. “Thank you so much for these delicious crumbs,” you say. And when you’ve finished your crumbs you feel empty again. So you eat more crumbs. Emptiness. Crumbs. Emptiness. And so on until something changes. Until you change.
In the past, I’ve let a romantic interest leave me hanging and lead me on, only to toss out a crumb or two just to keep it interesting. I’ve experienced the drift of once-substantial friendships turn into rice cakes. I’ve been part of companies that churn and burn their employees, tossing new people in the mix while overworking the old ones until they quit. Crumbs, all of them. The junk-food version of love and attention.
And at the core of these crumbs wasn’t someone else’s poor assessment of my value, it was mine. I ate every single crumb that was thrown my way and you better believe I thought it was a feast. Until I knew better.
“Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.”― Toni Morrison, Beloved
In case no one has told you this, let me be the one to let you in on something huge for me: You don’t deserve love crumbs. Or friendship crumbs or professional crumbs, either. Or fun crumbs, which is what happens when you really want to do something fun but do the Diet Coke version instead. Like if you want to have popcorn with lots of butter but have Triscuits with cheese instead. (Is that relatable? Am I the only one that does that? I did that last night and went to bed sad. It’s a tiny bummer.)
These crumbs (or tiny bummers, copyright me from five seconds ago) aren’t innocuous — they’re spiritual poison. Accepting crumbs in one area of your life erodes your confidence and self-worth in the other areas. It teaches you to accept less than what you are worthy of, which tells your soul that, hey, maybe you can take less here and there and over there, too. Oh, and also there. Soon, you’re at a crumb banquet wondering why you’re starving.
So, again, let me tell you unequivocally: You don’t deserve that. Not by a long shot.
“You deserve to feel good as hell,” — Lizzo
Recognizing where in your life you’ve thought such crumbs a feast is step one. Step two is going on a realness diet. Step three is letting yourself feel good as hell.
You deserve real love, not thin love, and all the buttered popcorn your heart can desire. You are worthy of real, reciprocal, connected friendships. Your contributions to the world, whether or not you’re paid for them, are valuable and needed. You are worthy of a love buffet, full of the best feelings you can muster up for yourself and for others, AND YOU CAN GET A TO-GO BOX FOR THE ROAD.
Because you matter. Because you’re you. And for you, it’s either love or not love. If it’s love, if it’s friendship, if it’s real; it’s yours. If it’s not, it can get gone. It’s not voodoo or some sort of full-moon ritual — it’s a basic choice. Either you get back the love you give or you don’t. If you don’t, it’s not for you. Sometimes it’s as easy as just walking away from the crumbs being thrown at you — ”No thanks! I already ate.” Sometimes it’s a big escape from something or someone that doesn’t deserve you. In either case, it’s always worth it. Declaring that you will accept nothing less than the real and the true is powerful stuff. And you, my friend, are powerful.
Ready to feel good as hell? Do these three things right now.
- Figure out where you’re getting crumbs. Is it your love life? Your job? A “friend”? Identify the source.
- Cut off your crumb supplier. Stop doing that thing, responding to that person or reaching for the Triscuits when you want popcorn. Start building an escape hatch for more complex crumb situations.
- Step into your value. Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you’re worthy. (I’m dead serious. It works. Truly — if you can’t even tell yourself you’re worthy, how the hell are you going to tell others?)