I decided it was time to get a bit personal with you guys. A comment left on my previous post encouraged me to scratch the surface of my personal battles. One of the things I think we all struggle with in both large and small proportions throughout our lives, is that we loose ourselves. I’ll give you the rough lines of how I’ve lost myself time and again and how I finally realized how to keep myself in alignment with myself. Note that this doesn’t mean that I don’t go off trail still, but it doesn’t carry the same negative effect as it used to.
Once upon a time, in the late 20th century to be more precise, on a cold December morning a little girl was born. That little girl was me. Already in a hurry and impatient to start life, I made sure to greet my parents a week earlier than anticipated. The skill of impatience stuck with me from this moment and has been a hub of frustration throughout my life as a whole.
Not only was I an impatience child, I was critically introverted and shy to the point where normal tasks like greeting the cashier at the local shop was a life or death hurdle to me. Bless my mom for making huge efforts to train me into completing normal tasks, because she really had to work me to help me get over my fear of everything. Especially my fear of other people. I struggled with vulnerability and fear for years, and even though I became quite good at challenging my fears, I still to this day struggle with my vulnerability.
How is this relevant you might ask? Well, introverted or not, it is human to struggle with fear, vulnerability and impatience. These emotions and the ideas that surround them often curse us with self-constructed limitations and frustrations. Now, the problem is not the challenges these feelings or ideas bring, but it is how we are equipped to takle them. I was lucky to have my mom and her drive to wish me success help me overcome my inability to function, but some obstacles I have had to work out for myself. I struggled for years with what we call «good girl-syndrome». Everything had to be correct and perfect. Perfection here defined as meeting with the expectations I believed society demanded of me. High ambition, beauty and success. Sounds familiar? It took me a hell of a nasty break up, the loss of toxic friends, depression, loneliness, anxiety, overall exhaustion and the realization of ownership for my responsibility in this to begin scratching the surface of how and why I ended up where I did. During my existential crises, which is still going strong by the way, and after reading a dozen self-help books, regularly seeing a (very much appreciated) therapist and writing out my thoughts and emotions, I came to a realization:
I had been living my life in regards to what I thought was expected of me. I was fixing my emotional problems with actions rooted in external expectations and I relied on the respons from the people surrounding me to confirm or discard my path.
I was unconsciously desperate to be accepted. This is how we utterly fuck ourselves up. This is how we harm ourselves and harbor unhappiness within our souls. We are taught in our society that altering our shells, aiming for high achievements and working until we don’t function anymore is the ladder to success. Success being the ultimate goal. It wasn’t until I asked myself «what does success mean to me and why is it important?» that I understood that what I had been doing was pure self-destruction (as if going 150 miles an hour straight into a wall wasn’t enough). Where was my value-system? Which guidelines did I live by and why? What was my core values? Success as I viewed it back then was recognition, fame, praise and wealth. The illusion that perfect was possible. Again, a clear desperate cry to be accepted, recognized and seen – and «fuck you I made it» to everyone and anyone who ever sprinkled my existents with doubt. My definition of success was based upon the reaction of others. My definition of success today are none of those things. Success to me, today, is the achievement of living by and executing my values in every situation, choice and obstacle on my way, every single day. The key word being values.
The term values is randomly thrown about here and there. It is not like I just discovered the word for the first time. I’ve never worked for a company that didn’t have a set of values to offer their employees, something I didn’t give much substance to because they are often contradictory and people just go about their day pretending to care about them anyway. I did the same. No, it wasn’t until I started questioning my personal set of values that I understood the importance of well thought through values and how they can change a life.
My story is not unique, my experiences are not unique – other then them being from my perspective. There have been people before me and there will be people after me that will have similar stories. Experiences. That will have the desire to share and enlighten. Still my wish is to clarify to you, the things that took me so long to recognize. Not to save you from pain, because pain is an essential fluid in the elixir that is life, but to hopefully help you find the pleasure in your journey. To understand how I lost myself, how I continue to loose myself and how I find my way back.
We loose ourselves when we give away our value, foundation and our expectations to external factors. When we are no longer in the driver seat of our life.
My story has not ended. It is an ongoing happening until the day I die. As I am typing these words, I am still in a hole of shit. Shit of various degrees. Shit that rocks my foundation of life, both physically and mentally. Uncertainty regarding work. Uncertainty regarding my flat. Uncertainty regarding my life choices. I quit my job. I’m still questioning my life purpose. Despite the hardship and the daily pain this offers, I am no where near the internal hell I would have lived in if I was to go against my own truth. Shitting fictional rainbows does catch up with you at some point and in my case I now know that one of the symptoms to this is getting continuously physically ill. And mentally torn apart. My decisions and choices now have been made with careful intent and I stand by them with everything I am. This has changed everything for me, and despite that life isn’t easy, it’s certainly more enjoyable.