Since Mum died in June 2016, I found myself propelled into a head on face-off with the warm, familiar comfort blanket of an identity that I’d wrapped around myself for the previous 28 years. I personally found it frightening as hell, this whole identity questioning, it made me face the reality that I didn’t know what I liked, what was genuinely in my ‘love it’ bucket.
If I didn’t know, who on earth could help…
When people would ask what music I liked, what I love doing, what career I want (we like a good neat box to pop life in to) I was stumped. I’d been busy living life to look after, support, celebrate and take care of others in a way that I wanted for myself, too. I just didn’t value myself enough to afford this approach to me, I was never ‘good enough’ for that.
I’m learning that I can have faith, trust and compassion for myself in the way that I have for others, that I can get through tough shit even when my mind tells me that there is no way I could possibly cope. The way I learnt that is by going through the shit (oh joy) but, most importantly, recognising that I have gone through it, am still living, smiling and witnessing that it was me that steered the ship I’d been scared to paralysis of.
I learnt that I need to swallow the ‘be strong’ Brussel sprouts that I’d long pushed around my plate and open up my vulnerability, my flaws and imperfections and make space then to bring on board my beautiful friends and create positive coping mechanisms to help me navigate the sea and manoeuvre the not-so-infrequent tidal waves that sometimes near threw me off the deck.
I might be able to eat them, but I still don’t like Brussel sprouts #JustSaying
The lesson in summary…
Sprouts aside, identities evolve and grow, even when we don’t feel ready for it, or we want to hold so tightly to it. It didn’t need to be held tightly though, it was already mine and wouldn’t ever be discarded. As soon as I could let loose the reins that held on to that fear, I found a windy path extended in front of me, which opened up opportunity to grow and evolve.
‘Good enough’ and ‘perfect’ were long held aspirations – so they won’t go away quickly, but I’m working on it – and, obvious as it may seem, I realised that they are only standards I set myself, if I set them, then I have the power to change them.
You do too, I promise. It’s not easy, so get that coping toolbox full-up with good stuff, stuff that works for you – messages to friends, your favourite smells, things that make you smile.
Aspire for imperfection, it’s hard but, boy, it’s worth it.