How many times has someone cited baggage as a reason for breaking up with you? How many times have you been let down because you were too complicated, too messed up, or just too plain difficult to love?
My guess is many, many times — perhaps not with this exact wording, but people with baggage are used to having potential partners run for the hills when they’ve deemed them too complex, emotionally trying, or difficult. Most people have a low pain tolerance for other people’s baggage.
But baggage is actually not something to be self-conscious about or to obsess over. It isn’t stuff that makes you unlovable. It makes you a human being. Any person who isn’t willing to fight the good fight with you isn’t worth your time. You’ve seen more of life and been through a multitude of experiences that have strengthened you.
We are a culmination of deeply human experiences that we’ve chosen to label as baggage. It’s trite and absurd.
Instead of being embarrassed about your “baggage,” use it to fuel your power and shape your character. You have the unique ability to radically accept the person you are in a relationship with because you know what it means to go through the most difficult of challenges.
As Andrea Miller writes in the author’s note of her new book, Radical Acceptance, “Together, we can spark a Radical Acceptance movement, leading to much more love, compassion, and happiness in our world.”
Cheers to the damaged people. People with baggage are the compassionate ones. We are the ones with battle scars and the emotional resilience to handle any relationship hurdle that comes our way.
Baggage isn’t a handicap — it makes you a stronger partner. Here's why.
1. Your baggage weeds out the weak.
I know we all get upset over our complicated histories. Our mess of terrible breakups, layoffs, emotional distress, and hardships weigh upon us. We are so used to being told we’re damaged goods. This judgment does not exactly make us always easy to understand or figure out.
Despite what you may think, your baggage is not going to prevent you from having worthwhile relationships; you are not going to miss out on something great because you’re “messed up.”
What your bundle of war stories does is weed out the weak — the people who cannot possibly give you what you need. Sure, a guy or girl you thought was quite exceptional may dip after hearing some of your stories and, yes, that does sting, but it’s better to know now that this person can’t handle you.
What is going to happen when some stuff really goes down? You know you couldn’t count on this softy to get through it. If a person sees your baggage, gets a taste of your worst moods, sides, and memories and sticks with you, that is a person worth their weight in gold.
If you use your baggage as a source of strength and don’t let anyone make you feel less whole for having a history, you’ll wind up with a relationship that is truly exemplary, and the person who loves you will love you harder than you ever thought possible.
2. Having a complicated past deepens your ability to love.
Damaged people love harder because it’s harder for us to love. We obviously have trust issues, but that isn’t a bad thing. It makes us warier and more careful. When we love, we love HARD because our love is not given easily.
We are able to love a person fully — scars, warts, imperfections and all. Nothing can stop us once we fully invest in a person.
As Miller writes of her relationship with then boyfriend (now husband) Sanjay, “In deciding to ‘just love him,’ I was finally, really making a commitment to him and to our relationship. While we had been together for a handful of years, and though I loved him very much, our differences sometimes seemed intractable, to the point where I had been nursing an exit strategy in the back of my mind.”
People with baggage don’t give up — we commit. We’ve been through enough terrible stuff to know that if we’ve found a person who we love and who loves us back, we have to hold on with everything we have.
3. Baggage is a driving force in empathy.
People who have been through messed up life events and experiences are the most empathetic. Sure, there is definitely a dose of jadedness to it all: we’ve seen how cruel the world can be. Yet, we’ve seen the true, complicated nature of other people, we’ve experienced a broad spectrum of emotions and pain, and those multifaceted experiences broadens deep-rooted empathy for others.
And those with empathy make the best partners. “Long-term happy couples exhibit are as follows: they are empathetic, they have strong emotional control (i.e., they don’t freak out easily), and they maintain 'positive illusions' about their partners over the long run, which means these couples focus on one another’s desirable traits while overlooking the negative traits,” Miller says.
People with baggage are the realest of them all. No person without a lick of baggage was ever considered interesting. We know the worst of life and the best of life. We’re definitely not one-sided or boring. All the best people have baggage because all the best people are complicated and finished pretending otherwise.