Stillness or movement.
Darkness or light.
Rootedness or flow.
Stability or adventure.
Certain or child-like.
Safety or freedom.
Success or happiness.
Masculine or feminine.
For so long, I only believed I could identify with half of that list.
And to survive in my childhood home, I had to be;
Still (at least on the outside)
Light (at least stay out of trouble)
Stable (you get the pattern, by now)
Successful (who would I be without a 4.0 GPA?)
And I’m still really good at all of that.
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This behavior carried on for years.
I chose to be angry than to cry.
I chose to be ‘productive’ instead of rest.
I chose to work seven days a week, instead of value my physical health. (If I wasn’t throwing up, I could definitely work.)
I chose to stay safe and small instead of try something new. (I believed the more I could predict the outcome, the smarter I was getting.)
I chose to build walls rather than open up and maybe laugh a little.
I thought if I got a flat tire, I wasn’t aware enough.
I thought if I had a happy thought or felt relief, there was definitely something else I was forgetting to worry about.
I thought in order to be successful, you had to compromise being happy.
Being both was just naïve. Life was hard and I had to work for it. My mom instilled this in me.
She called it reality and work ethic.
This struggle and obsession to label myself as one OR the other became apparent to me only recently. (another reminder that healing is constant, there is no end goal.)
Labeling myself calmed me down.
Labels are clear, concise and not messy.
If I labeled myself, that would mean I knew who I was and that meant that others would have to honor that. I thought that, that was respecting myself and these personal development books said that was a good start.
I was brilliant at presently myself as together, strong, reliable, observant and productive.
I started to realize that my sisters and my friends only knew these parts of me.
And it’s true,
I still love being the friend that will listen to you until your blue in the face.
I still love multi-tasking and crossing things off my to-do list.
I still love raising my voice and saying fuck every other word when I just need to vent it out.
Success is still very much important to me.
But, and this took some time to accept…
I had to stop hiding from the other parts of me.
Sometimes I don’t have all of the answers. Sometimes I just don’t care.
Sometimes I don’t want to vacuum in my spare time and would rather put on some Drake and dance it out.
Sometimes I just want to leave the dishes in the god damn sink.
Sometimes what I need to do instead of vent, is actually be my own best friend and trust my own thoughts and intuition.
Sometimes I’m not in a good mood but that doesn’t mean I’m not doing well.
Success to me isn’t only about money. It’s about impact. It’s about giving back.
The worst part of coming to terms with all of this, was how hard I was on myself. Before and during.
It felt like I stepping out of an identity and into a different one.
The unknown is a concept that still challenges me.
I was so judge mental. I felt like a hypocrite.
And to be honest,
I didn’t see immediate change but I had to be patient. I had to accept that I’m not superhuman.
One at a time, I had to peel each of these voices off;
The skeptic (are you sure about this?)
The image consultant (but what will people think?)
The risk manager (stay safe, it’s easier)
The wounded child (the world is out to get you)
& what I learned is that the way to truly respect myself is, by allowing myself to be exactly where I am.
If I don’t want to pick up phone calls for a day and need to recharge. I can do that.
It doesn’t define me as a bad friend. It’s not selfish. I can choose that guilt-free.
In fact, I learned, taking care of myself and honoring where I was, made me a better person, a better listener, a better sister, a better friend.
Because I intentionally worked on letting go of the identity of, ‘be together, all ways, always’ … everything else started to feel like less of an obligation. I had more space to think, to feel, to choose.
I became less of a drill sergeant.
I realized that when I’m furious at myself for being a certain way or for not being enough of something, that usually results in me feeling a ton of shame and being stuck in my head all day. Forcing myself to pretend I feel something that I don’t. That everything is fine when it isn’t.
So I had to give myself permission to be less structured and less certain which resulted in me actually being more flexible.
I learned that for me slow mornings actually create solid afternoons.
I learned that it all matters.
& I slowly began to recognize that I had to give myself the courtesy of just being HUMAN. (crazy, right?)
I started to create a world where I get to decide my balance of masculine and feminine.
Where I can be responsible and be adventurous.
Where I can feel unsure and still be on top of my shit.
When I can be in a off mood and it still doesn’t have to take away the rest of my day.
And that’s okay.
That’s being real.
That’s being truly, alive.
I sometimes still have to remind myself that I can always be and always have;
Stillness and movement.
Darkness and light.
Rootedness and flow.
Stability and adventure.
Certain and child-like.
Safety and freedom.
Success and happiness.
Masculine and feminine.
We are allowed to be whatever we want. At any moment.
We don’t have to be who our parents conditioned us to be or what we believe society wants from us.
We don’t have to buy into their version of success and failure.
We don’t have to put their needs before our own.
We can cry when we are upset and learn to have constructive conversations when we are angry.
We can take days off and not call ourselves lazy.
I can eat a salad for lunch and Shake Shack for dinner. And that doesn’t make me less focused on my health goals.
We can listen and be listened too.
So I want to encourage you, whenever someone asks a question that starts off,
“Would you rather … “
Create a world, where you are crazy enough to believe you could be both.