Have you ever forgotten to take your luggage with you on a holiday? I am guessing, no. Why? It is essential. Have you ever lost your baggage at any time whilst travelling? How did you react? Panic? Anger? Fear? Helplessness? Why? Again, your baggage is essential. As humans, we all have baggage, yet we often judge it or are judged by it, when actually, our baggage is essential to our story and our life. It is uniquely our own and needs to be looked after, just like our travel luggage.

We are encouraged to hide our flaws, deflect our mistakes, stay silent about our poor choices, and mask our imperfections. We feel like we need to be perfect or flawless to be loved and accepted. We keep getting told to let go of our baggage and start afresh. We have been urged to forget the past, turn over a new leaf, and be the person we have always wanted to be. The problem with this strategy is that it is not possible. You are you, warts and all. You can’t change your past, you can’t run from your mistakes, and you can’t let go of your baggage. Why would you want to when your baggage contains treasures that are uniquely yours and can be used to make your journey through life more meaningful and satisfying?

Let’s go back to the travel analogy. Now, there are definitely times we overpack and end up lugging around suitcases that are heavier than they need to be, as they contain things you won’t use on your trip. We have all been there, right? But was it really that much of a hassle? What if you did need it? You would be grateful that you packed it. You see, that’s the thing about baggage. At some point on your journey all of the contents are needed to help make your adventure as enjoyable and meaningful as possible. If you had gone to the snow, but decided not to pack your warm jacket because it took up too much space, you would at some point regret that decision. You would either be really cold or have to spend a large amount of money to purchase another jacket.

The contents of your baggage are essential, right? Imagine your trip with only one pair of shoes, no deodorant, no passport, only one shirt, no jacket or just one pair of undies. I am confident you get what I am saying here. Your baggage is essential. I want to encourage you to now think about your flaws, imperfections, poor choices, and the events you would rather forget, the same way: as essential baggage. You may be asking how that stuff could possibly be essential. That, my friend, is an amazing question which I shall attempt to answer.

I have more ‘baggage’ than most. Or, at least, as much. Daily mistakes, uncountable poor choices, truckloads of insecurities, many imperfections, and an embarrassing number of cringeworthy moments. But I love it all and it is essential because it is what makes me, me. Not only that, but it also helps me in every area of my life. Without my baggage and knowing why it is essential, I would be stressed, anxious, unhealthy, unfulfilled and without joy and purpose in my life.

It is my baggage which makes me relatable to people (as we all have baggage), and therefore helps me build stronger and more trusting relationships. My baggage helps me be more empathetic, understanding, and forgiving to others. Being able to be honest about my baggage and remove the mask that I have spent so much of my life wearing, has brought an incredible level of self-acceptance, self-love, and peace into my life. My baggage provides me with tons and tons of incredible lessons and opportunities to learn more, adapt more, and become a better man. For me right now, the best thing about my baggage is that it helps me to make a difference in the lives of other people. Can you see why I believe my baggage is so essential? The same applies for your baggage.

I had a wonderful conversation with Elise Peck on this week’s podcast called, Mutual weirdness. We talked a lot about embracing your quirks, imperfections, and weirdness, and when you do, you meet someone who connects with you. This may lead to, as Dr Seuss says, falling in mutual weirdness, more commonly known as love.

My main message this week is to stop hiding, running from, and being embarrassed about your baggage and embrace it. You can’t replace dumb things you have said or done, you can’t remove your imperfections, you can’t unmake mistakes, and you can’t change your past. Why would you want to when they are there to help you be you, help you learn, and help you live the best life you can live. So, from today onwards, embrace your baggage because it is essential.