Self-Love: Finding Your Ultimate You
A personal essay about finding — and accepting — the truest version of yourself
Sarah Sapora shares an excerpt from Soul Archaeology with CoveyClub.
Your Ultimate You is the greatest version of you. It is the most powerful and the truest version of you that exists. Your Ultimate You is not perfect — it is the state of self in which you are fully connected and listening to yourself. This is a version of you that feels fear but is not ruled by it. A you that is imperfect but authentic. Your Ultimate You sees herself with clarity and compassion and is committed to taking action to grow in the ways that serve her.
Red dress. Tan. Long, blond hair. I have this picture of me where I look sexy, strong — these are words I rarely use to describe the way I look but, almighty, I look all of those things here. I am glowing. I am buzzing and alive. My thighs are thick and well-muscled, my waist definition strong. Off to the side of the camera, out of view, is a six-foot-tall man wearing a well-fitting three-piece suit with a red tie he picked out to match my red dress. He has the power to make me orgasm just from touching. He is waiting for me; he kisses me in front of other people. Earlier in that day I went scuba diving — there was salt in my hair and on my skin; I smelled like Coppertone. I feel lucky. I feel beautiful. From the outside looking in, I am my Ultimate You.
The reality of this exact moment was very different. Oh no, this was absolutely not my Ultimate You. Earlier that day I’d walked away from this same man, feeling defeated to my core, because he still insisted on calling us “friends” even though we both very well knew we were far from that. It was the same heated conversation we’d had a dozen times because I hated the expression — it made me feel disposable and insignificant — but he wouldn’t budge. We were friends. Just friends. Only friends…Yeah, right. Fuck. But when I had my arm linked through the crook of his, I felt in those few minutes like I belonged somewhere, so if “friends” was what it was, then I guess I could handle it. I ignored the hurt and I tucked it away for another time.
Except I couldn’t get it out of my head that he had stopped to buy women’s perfume for another “friend,” to thank her for helping him with something. He remembered what kind of perfume she wore; you don’t remember what kind of perfume someone wears unless you’re used to smelling it and seeing it. “Do you know what kind of perfume I wear?” I asked. He didn’t know. “Michael. Michael Kors,” I said, but I knew he’d never remember. I felt like I’d never be enough. I wondered if this friend was the same person I saw him texting when we were on the plane a few days before, when I opened my eyes after falling asleep with my head on his shoulder…Fuck.
That was not my Ultimate You. As beautiful as I looked, as great as the picture was that I posted to social media, which was, soon after, flooded with Likes and Comments telling me how awesome I was, that was not it.
You cannot be your Ultimate You when you are abandoning yourself.
You cannot be your Ultimate You when you tell yourself your feelings do not matter.
You cannot be your Ultimate You when you trade away pieces of yourself in order to turn someone on or keep them by your side.
You cannot be your most vibrant self, your most connected self, when your insides are screaming, Something is wrong, and you decide that nothing is wrong because it can’t be wrong.
Fast-forward to a few years later, when it appears as if everything in my life is fucked but I am more my Ultimate You than I have ever been before. Parts of my business are crumbling, and I am questioning my next steps. I sit on the couch in sweatpants and a T-shirt, with my two-day dirty hair tangled in a bun. I’m twenty pounds heavier than I was that day in the red dress, and far less tan. The man I’d craved has not spoken to me in months and, though at first I thought I’d never make it without him, I am crying less and less every day and, to be honest, feeling pretty strong on my own. Even though things feel like they are falling apart, I am safe, and I know it.
That day sitting on the couch I wasn’t coping. I was listening to myself. I was making changes. I was reevaluating the hard stuff, of which my eyes were finally open to — I’d walked away from a relationship that didn’t serve me, turned down work gigs that didn’t feel like ME, and was sitting in the emptiness without freaking out. And when my best friend came over, she sat on my couch drinking a latte and said, “I know you’re kind of a hot mess right now, but I gotta tell you I’m not worried about you one bit. You’re taking care of you. For you. You’re raw but you’ve got this.”
And she was right.
In that time, I was more my Ultimate You than I had ever been before. Because I was aligned. My eyes and heart were open. And I was serving myself.
Your Ultimate You is not performing. She certainly doesn’t exist to impress others. She is not an unreachable expectation you have of yourself that you can (probably) never be, at least not for more than a fleeting moment in time.
Your Ultimate You is messy-beautiful. Because that’s what self-love is. And she is full of it.
Excerpted from Soul Archaeology by Sarah Sapora. Copyright © 2023 by Sarah Sapora. Reprinted with permission of Balance Publishing, an imprint of Hachette Book Group. All rights reserved. You can find Sarah on Instagram @sarahsapora or Facebook