let's be who we are
I treat these posts as journal entries. They are raw and unedited.
I share them in the hopes of starting a conversation about emotional wellness.
I treat these posts as journal entries. They are raw and unedited.
I share them in the hopes of starting a conversation about emotional wellness.
We live in a huge world that we’ve made very small. Like never before we see how people on the other side of the world, on the other side of the city, in the higher apartment, in the bigger house, with the traveling lifestyle, with the dream job, with the cute family, with the idyllic life are living. The capacity to compare is through the roof. Not only do we have lots of avenues to compare ourselves to people we don't know, and will probably never meet, there is more and more pressure to compare ourselves to society's ideal version of who we should be and what we should be doing at this point in our lives exactly.
Oftentimes I find that version of who I might be is so ingrained into my conscious, it feels like I’m comparing myself, to my own ideal version of myself. There have been milestones and markers and ladder rungs that I thought I would have met by this point. And generally speaking the milestones of our lives today are much different from even a decade ago. Expectations may be more fluid, but they’re still there. Our ideas of what people can do to make a living have expanded to a place of overwhelm. And our ideas of at what age you should reach a point of success are getting younger and younger. To own your own company before your 30 seems not uncommon. But it’s also not uncommon to see article titles like this one: “Millennial's are Worse Off Than the Generation Before”.
We rarely see the lives that people lead behind their self promotion. Our social media presence, has become our resume. Filtered, edited, curated, deliberate and misleading. I don’t discount myself of playing a part in this. A few times I’ve been on the receiving end of comment about my life, based off of my Instagram and I always find myself surprised about the feedback. But then I realized it’s what I’m posting and that these friends who I’m talking with aren’t there with me every day when I have to draw myself out of bed. An internal battle going on like that between a dog that doesn't want to keep walking and its owner determine to carry on. They aren’t there with me when I’m sobbing in my car or talking to my dentist about how I clench my jaw. I don’t post about the angry stressed out customers that yell at me at work. And why would we broadcast those things? I have no interest in remembering them, and that's not the vision I want to paint for my life.
I recently heard it said that no growth can come without compression, friction and hardship. That even to grow into a fetus our cells must first endure pressure inside the womb. The womb that is specially designed for this one amazing function of growing a human. Even there, both the cells growing, and the mother growing them, must endure. So knowing this, knowing that in order to grow and change and thrive, we have to go through points of struggle, doubt, hurt, and sadness, wouldn’t you think it would be safe, rather than shameful, to share those things? Those things that we all have to go through.
I’ve also had feedback that some people are shocked by how much I already do share on these platforms. In those instances there is always a flash of shame before I come back to my senses and think, but this is my goal! To talk about these things that we have for so long been lead to believe you should not share with your community. If it’s true that we all have to experience fits of anger and bouts of depression then why not talk about them. Why not share our experiences and our tools. Why not share our lows so that we can more fully and graciously celebrate each others highs.
Vulnerability is the cure to shame. To share our fears and our failures will show us that they are not the end, they are not the roadblock we are lead to believe. I choose to put my faith here. In the idea that if I continue to share, continue to support others who share, and proceed to share even more authentically - stigmas will start to disappear, growth will happen, dreams will come true and futures will be made.
So I know it’s hard but I’ll ask you to share too. Start small and grow in big ways. I can tell you that you’ll start to become more comfortable in who you are, and you’ll find that in most (not all) instances, you’re met with compassion. If you’re not ready to share then start to notice. I’ll also ask that when someone is brave enough to share with you, you meet them in compassion as well.
Surprise! I had two weeks of consistency writing a ‘blog’ and then couldn't find the motivation, or didn't know what else to write about. So I’m combating my lack of motivation, by writing about just that - motivation.
Time to come clean - I’m a scatterbrain. There are few things that can hold my attention for very long. I will be the champion of excitement, the ambassador of idea town and the puppy chasing its tail while trying to catch a ball at the same time. Except for the fact that a puppy doesn’t care if nothing comes from all its efforts. I care.
But what stops me if do care so much? Ahhh probably caring so much… ideally think “so what if nothing comes from this - just do it!” Well, easy enough for Nike to say… But ahh, what if I can't think of anything? What if it’s not as good as the last one? What if it makes no sense? What if I write it and no one reads it? What if I create it and no one buys it? What if I organize it and no one comes? What if I freeze? What if I bomb? What if I fail.
I sometimes feel like I’ve never really failed because I try to keep the mentality that I’m always learning. So if you’re learning, it’s productive, and therefore not a failure - right? I do ultimately think this is true. But I’m starting to think I may not have so many failures because I haven’t taken too many risks. Like I joked about in my last post, fear can hold me back from even playing new games at a party. When I encounter fear, I absolutely freeze in overwhelm.
We experience fear because we need to feel peace. Fear is action oriented and is meant to give us the fast energy we need to take charge and make changes. So how is it that fear can also be paralyzing, or that it leads to paralyzation.
My fear is rooted in rejection, failure and judgement. What's under that? Being outcasted, losing people, being made fun of, putting myself out there and being smashed down. What’s beyond that? Being alone, having to make a living doing something I don’t care about. Beyond that? Dying alone and unfulfilled.
WOOF. Okay - fear is trying to protect me from some miserable stuff, and it's no wonder my sympathetic nervous system basically crashes like an overworked computer. Like I said, I get so overwhelmed every time my thoughts go here, I end up becoming passive. I know, that my fear will keep coming back until I finally take action on those things that I’m frightened of. Yes my fear is paralyzing, but it won’t go away until I become unparalyzed and do something about it.
It won't leave because it’s trying to show me how important all of this is to me. If to die alone and unfulfilled is ultimately my biggest fear, I better take action to make sure I don't end up there. As one of my teachers GuruMeher says, “If action is called for, fear will return until you act to remedy the situation.”
So, time to come clean - I’m SCARED! There are lots of things that hold my attention. There are lots of ideas that nag me, that come up year after year filling me with burning desire. I get ideas that feel so big and scary and exciting that they knock me off my feet with their bigness. They knock me down (or, I knock me down), and I abandon them, and they come back. Over and over. I’m the puppy thinking about how great it would be to chase her tail and catch the ball but instead, is too worried about the people laughing.
So how am I going to get motivated? Here’s my decree - I will write whatever I’m thinking about, whatever is exciting me or bothering me. I will follow through on projects that ignite me, even though they might cost money and there might not be high return (right away). I will plan and organize and know that if I’m true to myself and vulnerable with others - people will come.
Because, the puppy that’s chasing its tail, looks like it's having a lot of fun…
What keeps you motivated when you’re feeling overwhelmed? Let me know!
Why do we so whole heartedly believe other people’s opinions of us?
It’s like because someone says “You are…” - we think they're speaking the truth about us. And even worse, when we’re told something repeatedly, or strongly, or from someone we respect or love, we truly come to believe it. It becomes internalized, and then it becomes our story.
It’s natural that as young people trying to understand ourselves and the world, we’ll trust our elders and our peers to know what they’re talking about. It’s almost like because we think we don't know what we’re doing, everyone else must have it all figured out.
We feel alone in our struggle and we’re taught from a young age not to communicate our heavier emotions. When a child is told not to cry because they miss their mom, they’re being taught that sadness is wrong. Likewise when they yell and cry because they're hurt, they’re learning that fear and anger are wrong. We’re bullied into listening to other people's demands and opinions of our emotions, rather than listening to and learning from our own.
Can you recognize what stories you tell about yourself that actually began in other people's discomfort with how you were expressing, or being, yourself?
When I was little a lot of emphasis was put on the fact that I had trouble spelling. Like, A LOT. And it came from a lot of different directions. So much significance was put on this aspect of who I was, that I started developing shame around my intelligence. Being bad at spelling quickly snowballed into being bad at english all together. And while we’re at it let’s throw in geography, science, math, language…blah, blah… just learning in general. (To credit my teachers and parents, they had no idea that spell check would be as helpful as it is today.)
My point is though, I came to define myself by this infinitesimal aspect of a struggle I was having, something I was told I was BAD at. And to me it was a HUGE deal. It kept me from writing on the board in front of the class (even though I loved it because I loved my handwriting). It kept me from writing in front of other people in real time and from letting them read things I had previously handwritten. It even kept (keeps) me from typing in front of people, lest they see the crazy way I try to spell “necessary”. It kept me from trying all sorts of things I was sure I would fail at. Which pretty much included everything I didn't already know I was good at. Can you believe that my fear of failure - which may stem from how my ability to spell was received by my community - kept me from learning to ride a bike until I was pretty old. Or that the stress I once felt for spelling quizzes, is linked to the fear I feel today when someone suggests playing a game I’ve never played before?
My example may seem pretty light hearted. But this phenomenon can bring us to some very dark places.
I still have moments of panic when I know someone’s about to be let in on my secret. But I’ve learned to love this part of myself and laugh at the my phonetic spelling attempts (which I still think make more sense).
These parts of ourselves that make us different, and difficult, are the most beautiful elements of who we are.
I had a day off today and I found myself in the middle of the day thinking “Wow I haven’t done anything today”. With that thought in the front of my mind, the thought in the back of my mind was “AGH SO LAZY”. I caught myself and thought woah woah… you haven’t been just sitting here. You just spent about two hours meditating on shame, and another two hours reading about someone else’s experience of shame and meditation.
I have a lot of shame around the idea of being, or being thought of, as lazy. I grew up around someone who was labeled lazy, who I projected immense amount of anger towards. I’ve known for a while that this contributes to the shame I feel when I notice myself doing something that others may perceive as lazy. But I’ve also known that for the amount of shame I feel around this action (or lack of) it absolutely must go deeper. I know I feel shame due to a fear of becoming lazy, but I realised I also feel shame because I have a history of being told I was.
School was a bummer. I have fond memories, sure. But for the most part, it was not fun. I remember being repeatedly told that I just, “needed to try harder”, or, “put in more effort”. I was trying so hard my brain constantly hurt. Like actually hurt… I suffered from intense chronic migraines through most of high school and college. No specialist or neurologist could tell me or my mom what was wrong, and no medications really worked. Post college, when I got a little more in touch with myself, I told people they were from stress. I would say, “I don’t know how I know, I just know they’re from stress.”
The stress was that I was trying as hard as I possibly knew how, but it wasn’t getting me anywhere. It wasn’t making me any smarter, or any more interested. But it was making me sad. I learned the message that when I failed because I wasn’t a natural at something, wasn’t a fast enough learner or was bored to death, it was because I was lazy
Recently I find myself in the throws of the newly popular, quarter life crisis. Based on experience I would say it’s a time when you feel confused, overwhelmed, paralysed, fragile, overwhelmed, optimistic, ambitions and overwhelmed. OVERWHELMED. The possibilities are endless in a way they never have been before. If you’re like me you were in school until you were about 23 and then all of a sudden, you weren't. Also if you’re like me overwhelm can lead to feeling paralyzed, and feeling paralyzed can lead to feeling lazy, and feeling lazy can lead to shame. And shame… leads to an idea of low self worth, and high self doubt.
But I know shame is really here to teach me how being a slow learner could maybe be a good thing. That identifying your own boredom in one thing, could possibly lead you to something else that’s wonderfully interesting. And that reading and meditating for four hours, though it may seem slow and low energy, feels good.