Once upon a time I knew this little girl who LOVED fashion. And even though she lived in a small town, and was afraid of her own literal shadow she thought (the idea of) high-fashion was pretty neat. She tore pictures from magazines like Elle and Vogue, decorating her walls with them rather than pics torn from Teen Bop. Boys? Who were they anyway. Sprinkle in a summer of Barbizon School of Modeling, and you’d think this human would grow up gleaming from head to toe in what someone would describe as Haute! But I digress. She did not. (hint hint: we’re about to stumble on why authenticity is a real bitch)
As a quiet, shy and (unbeknown to her or any other adult caregiver) incredibly dyslexic person, public school was the absolute ban of her existence. The idea that she had to fit the mold of everyone else who were nothing like her, didn’t make sense. And as you may already guess, she was the target for bullying – preteen girls are the absolute worst. There’s this little known idea that shyness = snobbery. So for almost ten years, the years shaping my actual existence, it was thought I was a snob, and not just quiet and shy. Tack on another few years of therapy for this one. Check!
Nope, sorry guys she didn’t go off to art school, fall madly in love with fashion (again) and live a life full of eclecticism and richness. She got married. Had two children. Live got full and complicated. Got divorced two decades later. Her children were her lifeforce, but she still felt bullied (this time is was mostly self-inflicted – OUCH!) and still not authentically herself.
Following her divorce, and her mid-life awakening she realized what she had forgotten all those years. She forgot how to actually love herself. This tends to happen when you’re put in charge ( of people, tasks, etc.) You are the doer. And doers feel guilty if they’re not doing for others and instead doing for themselves.
I read this the other day and it just made sense – when you start to live a life like you’re meant to live (boundaries & self-love come to mind) they don’t feel right. In fact, they can feel really wrong when you first start. They can feel like you’re being mean, or you don’t deserve to have them. You feel guilty.
You should NEVER feel guilty for taking care of yourself. Boundaries can be painful. And they can feel mean to the other person if they’re not used to having them with you (or anyone for that matter). If you haven’t done the work yet, you may not even know what the hell a boundary is. Or what self-care feels like.
That’s right. Self-care isn’t a luxury. It’s a life-force, and like eating berries instead of a candy bar, it’s truly what is going to help keep you healthy and alive. And boundaries. Well, those kinda suck when you first start incorporating them into your life. What happens is you realize, whether you want to or not, some people are not suppose to have such easy access to you. And for us doers, people have used you for years because they know they can rely on you for help. But don’t get me wrong, I already know what you’re thinking. You don’t mind helping. Because I never do. Unless I can’t. And as a doer, saying “no” is nearly impossible. Isn’t it?
Its the idea that you need to walk on eggshells or tiptoe around setting boundaries. So let me be clear here. You do not need to. Ever. An easy and uncomplicated “I’m not available” works just fine. Boundaries can look like “no, but thank you” and leaving it at that. Saying “no” is not taboo.
But really, I do that sometimes. I have amazing ideas rolling around in my head and unless I write it down right away, it can get a little messy with all these thoughts wrapped up and covering each other. Does this happen to you too? Back to my point – living in authenticity!
For over a decade I was a professional photographer. Did I love my job? No, I did not. Was I good at it? Yes. I was. Really good at it, and it was hard to walk away from something that made a good income. I didn’t feel like myself and I had that anxiety I had felt in grade school. I needed out, but walking away was really hard to do. Then the pandemic hit the wedding industry in March of 2020. I was one of the lucky ones because I really had niched down to “elopement” photography, so had a few gigs here and there for the next year. My mental health took a turn for the worst, along with my physical health and I walked away from professional photography, after 12 years, the end of 2020.
I don’t know about you, but when I do something, in true dyslexic fashion, I end up doing it twice. Once wrong the first time, and then right the second time. Walking away from the only career I had (outside of a few “jobs” in healthcare and the obvious SAHM hat I wore with pride) was scary. I didn’t know who I was, or what I should be doing. Midlife (I was 45 at the time) was staring at me, and it was laughing. Did I want to dive into something only to back out again ten years later? I’d be nearly 60 by then. Does one “start over” at 60? The thought gave me chills. And a few more wrinkles.
I dabbled in this and that, only to come back to where I started before photography. Education in psychology and more specifically – finishing my degree. I ultimately want to continue on the path and course of being a personal development coach/mentor/guide. Intuitively, finishing college is important to my purpose. So that’s what I’m doing. And daily, I check in with myself – an I feeling authentic? Does this align with my purpose? Am I working on something that will serve a greater good? Am I communicating my needs and asking for help when I need it? Am I listening to my body, and giving it what it needs in order to feel like my authentic self?
Einstein and his theory of relativity
You read that right. And yes, I am as eclectic as I should have been 30 years ago. Just in a different way. I read a lot. Every genre from metaphysics & spirituality, nutrition to alternative healing. I love science. I love medicine. And right now, I’m priming my brain for summer school with an online course through Stanford University called “Understanding Einstein: The Special Theory of Relativity“. I love how challenging it is for my brain. It feels good, all warm and tingly. And yes, I’m still very dyslexic so a lot of the foundational work has been a workout for me. I write a lot of notes, and have had to take a quiz or two twice in order to pass with 100%. There’s no excuse for less, at least for me.
When I graduate from college, I will have close to a 4.0. I have a few classes left, so I won’t say for certain. But I’ll bet if it isn’t a 4.0 it will be damn close. Is it that important for me to have a perfect GPA? Yes. It is. I don’t care about the actual number, it’s the idea that I got there that counts. I was a horrible student in grade school. I tried so hard to just get a 2.5 average (C+/B-). I would read, and re-read. I would take notes. But no one ever asked if I was having a hard time. It was the 80s/90s after all. We didn’t have tests back then or even the idea to ask. I remember fondly one night studying for a science test, reading the chapter over and over. Nothing would stick. Now I have tools that help. And I use them – all of them. I record lectures if needed, I write notes, and if the classes has timed tests I will utilize my special needs pass and take the test on my own time, untimed. Nothing to be ashamed of. With the pressure off, I can actually access information in my brain as if it was “normal” and I do well.
So long story short – authenticity is a real bitch, but definitely worth it. Never give up. Eventually, with hard work, self-reflection, boundary setting and self-love you’ll get there. I promise. And if you don’t think you can, think about this nearly 50 year old who is about to take a class with kids in high school because she put it off for nearly 30 years. If she can do it, if she can figure out who she is and what her purpose is – you can most definitely do it. In case you missed it, here’s my last blog post on self-care aesthetics. You can take care of yourself, and have fun doing it!
I’m a doer. And that’s why I wrote this blog, and why I have this website. I am here to help. If you really need help, let me know.
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