I can remember this adorable commercial I used to see all the time as a kid. It was a little girl, dressed up in what is presumably her mom’s “grown-up” stuff; high-heeled shoes, pearls, and make-up. And at the end up the commercial the little girl, in her still unquestionably innocent voice with a slight lisp and says, “Growing up.” I just loved it.
I remember this commercial especially because my mom used to say I looked a lot like that little girl, and we used to walk around the house and tease each other with the words of that little girl: growing up. At the time I could never have realized just how much I would “grow up” over the years to come. And I especially couldn’t have known just how much growing up can sometimes involve forgetting who you really are, what you really want, and how it also sometimes means giving up all that delicious self-confidence and bravery you felt as a child. It makes me a little sad.
I’ve thought a lot about this over the last few years. I definitely became one of those people that forgot a lot about what I wanted in my habit of being a people pleaser and conflict avoider. In all the rush to grow up and not to cause ripples I forgot all those things that made me the unabashedly hungry-to-take-over-the-world kid that I was. And I yearn for that again.
So when I came across the perpetually inspiring JustaTitch‘s post where she referenced the new to me OdeMagazine’s article Reclaiming Our True Self I was sold. I mean, if answering a few questions might help me recapture that amazing free feeling of being a kid as a grown-up and allow me to hold onto it every day, consider it done. So a’answerin’ I will do…
- What is more important for me, memories or dreams?
Memories have made me who I am, they have molded me into the person I see in the mirror, flaws and beauty. Dreams lead me forward, and keep me aching to live every day of my life. If I had no memories I would be a shell, but if I had no dreams I would be immobile. They are both equally important to my well-being.
- Am I living my life for an audience? In what ways should I be more true to myself, despite what other people expect from me?
To be more true to myself I need to make a conscious effort to not always try and avoid conflict and uncomfortable situations. It started out as self-preservation but continued on to become self-destructing; I can’t avoid all conflict, all uncomfortable situations, all things that make me a little scared and still be happy. I can’t be true to myself if I’m trying to please all people and live without discomfort and fear.
- What recurring patterns cause me pain or discomfort? How could I change my behaviour or lifestyle to avoid repeating them?
Not living for myself is the biggest source of pain and discomfort, which is ironic considering my need to please people was built out of my dislike of being uncomfortable with telling people, “No.” The only solution is to realize I can’t please all people and know that it is not just okay but integral to my happiness and well-being…and I deserve that.
- What are the unfinished things in my life that I should walk away from now? I felt that sometimes it is better to make room for new dreams if old ones have been pending for too long.
My school career. It was a dream of mine forever to go to college and come out with at least a Master’s; I thought that would be what I needed to feel smart and to prove that I am smart. It turns out that college really isn’t my favorite place on earth, and that I don’t have to finish college to feel smart and/or have others know that I am smart. Maybe one day I will go back to college, but maybe I won’t. But it shouldn’t be a reason I think less of myself; some of the most brilliant people I know never stepped foot inside of a college class.
- If I took my ten year old self to lunch today, what would she think of me? Would she identify with the person that I have become in the last 16 years?
I think my 10 year old self would be a little worried for me; a little sad for herself. I was very brave back then, a “spit-fire” and I just lived to laugh and love. I may have been scared from time to time, but it never stopped me. But I have been living a pattern of letting my fear stop me, and that is definitely not something my 10-year old self would want to identify with. She knew that acting despite fear was the ultimate in bravery, and that is what she would have wanted for her entire life, not just the first 10 years of it.
- Do I still have that eagerness, joyfulness and optimism that I had at the age of ten?
I secretly do, but in my negative habits of people pleasing and not wanting to cause ripples I hide a lot of those things because sometimes, often, it clashes with the desire of someone else and/or may cause the ripples I so desperately don’t want to cause. I think it may be harder to know I am many of the same things my 10-year old self was but hide it for the sake of others than if I was just a completely different person all together.
- What must I do about people I have hurt, disappointed and have let down in my life, so far?
I must accept what I’ve done and make amends with them if possible or make amends with the fact that it happened, I can’t change the past but I can do all that is in my power to never make the same mistakes again.
- What do I expect now from people who have hurt, disappointed and have let me down?
I expect nothing from them. What has happened has happened, and I have forgiven them for what has happened. I have evaluated where they stand in my life and know what I can and can’t share with them anymore.
- Am I ready to heal the damaged relationships, or is it time to move on?
I feel very secure in the fact that the relationships that I felt have been damaged by me or another person and want to keep are on a positive path to achieve keeping the relationship. There are however, a few relationships that are damaged or just aren’t what belong in my life the same way anymore that do need to be accepted as not the same. I can’t say that I could ever just completely “move on” from the relationship, but there are definite changes that need to be accepted.
- Am I as healthy as I want to be? What must I do to be physically and mentally as healthy as I want to be?
Both physically and mentally I am just a few levels off from where I would ideally want to be, but I also respect the positive changes I have made up until this point; they have not all been easy. Physically what I need to do is simple; I need to respect my body and eat healthy and exercise regularly so that even when my age is reaches higher and higher, I still can reach higher and higher. Mentally I need to stop the habits that make me unhappy (the people pleasing and conflict avoiding) and recognize that I am worth a few ripples.
- How would I act and look at the age of sixty? Would I be called ‘a nasty old cow’ or an ‘elegant, poised and gracious person’?
I think on the track that I am on at the moment I would be somewhere in between, something like a “typical and naturally aging woman.” I can’t say that people would be surprised to hear that I was 60 years old but they wouldn’t think I was 80 either. I would ideally like to be the 60 year old no one wants to believe is 60; physically or mentally.
- What must I do now, what must I know now that I don’t know now, to not turn into somebody ‘extremely avoidable’ when I reach my ripe old age?
I need to cherish myself, mind, body and soul. I need to exercise my mind and body, and never underestimate what I can do. The moment I start underestimating myself is the moment that I stop trying as hard and that is the moment that I will fulfill that expectation of not being that able. I need to give up my inaction due to fear and start acting despite fear. I must never stop learning and laughing, and start recognizing what is not healthy for me and eliminating those things from my life.
- How do I want to love and be loved? What is my true definition of a satisfying relationship, marriage or love -affair?
I want to love and be loved unconditionally. I want to love and be loved in a way that is both tender and strong; so that we know when to push and when to stop pushing; so that we know when to say something and when to be silent; so that we know how to make each other laugh and think. For me a satisfying relationship is one that acts without always having to be asked, to reciprocate love and good favors, honesty, commitment, communication and encouragement. Respect.
- What is stopping me from finding that?
I am lucky (and deserving) enough to have already found that. Someone who loves me for me, but pushes me when I need it, hugs me even when I don’t know that I want it, and says and does things out of pure love for me and our relationship.
- When I set my goals today, do I clearly see them coming to fruition in the future? Or am I blocking it subconsciously, due to my suppressed fears?
There are definite blocks as a result of fears. I haven’t really recognized them until recently but I do know that they are there, and I am working on facing them head on; this blog is a result of facing some of those fears.
- What am I doing everyday to improve the quality of my life, to contribute to my environment and do my bit for the society?
I am practicing the habit of doing something everyday that I love and makes me happy, whether that is writing, or talking to a friend, or cooking something delicious. I want to practice doing things that make me happy so that it no longer feels like I’m being selfish when all I’m really doing is nurturing myself. I try not to be wasteful with any thing; material or not and one of my personal goals is to volunteer and give back to the world in any way; both because these things are worth doing and because it is one of the things that makes me happiest.
Wow. I feel like I could write a post on each of those questions…and I just might.
I hope this inspires you to look inside and ask yourself questions that may make you nervous. I’ll tell you, it feels good.