Nobody knows the REAL you but you. Sometimes, even that’s a stretch as we trip and stumble along life’s journey. Maybe you’ve lost yourself? Or maybe, you just haven’t figured out who you are yet. Like most of you, I’m a work in progress. I grew up slightly introverted, a little weird, quite bookish and completely unaware of the social hierarchy amongst my classmates. Except I knew I was at the bottom of the fishbowl. Today, I am forty-something, still a little shy, but more assertive. AND, I don’t mind being the odd one out. In fact, I rather enjoy my quirky individuality.
Like some of you, I grew up as a people pleaser. Maybe even a little (OK, a lot) co-dependent. I felt it was better not to shake those apples off the tree, and garnering less notice by hiding amongst the leaves, was beneficial. I had a lot of self-doubts and very little sense of self. I didn’t find myself at all until I was in college. And I’m still unearthing some of the hidden aspects of my new, unique and wonderful self.
Don’t get me wrong; I grew up with a lot of love. In fact, maybe too much love. I might even say I was smothered in love. As an adult, I realize that has given me deeply connected familial roots. I was, and continue to be, grounded and rooted in love. But, along with love came a mixed message, even from my family; it said I was loved, but flawed because I was unlike the general mold. I didn’t trust my ability to make decisions because my family didn’t see my reality, and instead foisted theirs upon me. It made me a little hungry for approval and may have been the push that led me to my happiest self. Different, unique, artsy, punk, goth … whatever. I had found a place in a new family which gave me a deeper, more fulfilled sense of self.
I spent many sleepless nights bemoaning my inability to make decisions, and once I had made one, my family often used guilt tactics to change my mind. It took a very long time and a lot of distance for me to see that I could have a different opinion than everyone else, and still be accepted and loved. Although I make decisions now, the residual effects of my spineless youth make it hard for me to stick to those decisions. I feel unqualified to make good choices, so I am afraid to make any at all. I end up running around asking advice of others, multiple times. Then, if the decisions based on that advice were not what I wanted to do, I would be angry at myself for listening to them.
I was telling myself that my opinion doesn’t matter. Somewhere in my mind, I thought that the others must know better. After all, what in the world could I possibly know? Guess what. We all know something, and that’s not a horrible thing. In fact, you probably know more than you think. But thinking you don’t know anything keeps you dependent on others. Trust YOUR decisions.
It takes a lot of courage to take responsibility for your life and “own” your decisions. I have let myself down by allowing others to be my decision makers. For example, because of my lack of assertiveness, I handed over control of my future. I let others decide my career because they “knew” what was best for me. Maybe I was just lazy, but I was also unhappy and unfulfilled. I needed to learn that it’s OK to make mistakes. A lot of mistakes. It means you are human. It’s time now to speak up for yourself. Ask for advice, but remember, like tequila, to take it with a grain of salt. You are the one who needs to live with the outcomes of your decisions, whether imposed by others or yourself.
It’s time for us outsiders to become a positive force for change because we have something to say that someone might need to hear. It’s why I write for you lovely peeps. It’s time for me to trust my judgment and follow through with my decisions. I must be true to my SELF, and if my house of cards implodes, I can always start from scratch. Life has a funny way of working out in the end. No matter what horrible decision I make, I can always come back and correct it. Maybe.
And so my friends, try what feels right for you, and don’t worry about making the wrong choices. I have learned that the world is a great place to explore, and if you embrace it, it will wrap you up and hug you back.
Stay motivated and caffeinated!😉☕