WARNING!! PERSONAL POST AHEAD!!
Three years ago I was a college senior and a newlywed. I had a picture perfect life. I was vibrant and confident and knew who I was. At least from the outside it seemed that way. If someone had peeked into my soul, what they would have really seen was fear, unworthiness, and a deep sense of shame, not for what I had done in my past, but literally for who I was.
If you had spent 5 minutes with me you may have left thinking I was funny, honest, and bold for being so sincerely myself. If you spent a few days with me you would realize that I was ashamed of my personality and was living with a lot of social anxiety.
I used vulnerability to keep people from knowing who I really was. By being overly open about my life and my "issues" I would keep people at an emotional distance. I used religion to feel like I had finally achieved a sense of peace and order in my life. I belonged, I was living the "right" way, I had approval through my good actions. I used relationships to fill the deep sense of unworthiness by collecting many acquaintances but no deep friendships.
"If they laugh I am enough. If they think I am amazing, I am enough. If they think I'm pretty I am enough. If they think I'm interesting, smart, talented, I am enough.”
Scary, right?! I was living through other's opinions of myself. And if someone had a wavering opinion of me, I crumbled. I did not know how to be confident in my own skin. I was certainly not proud of who I was.
I share this with you because I know that my story, although unique in many ways, is not unique in the struggles. Many of you, too, are overcoming the same fears, shame, and pain. I want you to know you can overcome. I want you to know you can truly thrive.
Today I am still funny, vulnerable, and bold. It is the real, authentic me, and I am owning it. But, something changed in me the past 3 years that is obvious to anyone who knows me.
The frantic anxiety leaving the house to go to an event has if not completely gone away, almost never happens. The people who I felt the deepest shame around no longer have a strong place in my inner circle, and I am stronger than I ever have been. I am healthier in my marriage and I have healthy boundaries. Plus as a bonus, I actually love people, and have given up controlling them and judging them.
I still struggle like any normal human, but I want to share my journey with you. It can be easy to assume the road was easy, or that there wasn't a road at all. But the road was freaking hard. It meant facing who I was. What I was doing to hide who I was, and learning for the first time to be truly vulnerable with the people I could trust most. It meant overhauling friend groups and forgiving my parents. It meant forgiving myself and forgiving God. It meant letting go of the religious legalism that kept me safe and embracing the uncertainty in my faith journey.
It means moving forward. It means deciding who you want to be and taking action steps to get there. I went into 2014 with the mantra, "this is a year of freedom." And it was. I continue that tradition every year and revise my goals with my life coach quarterly. Today, set yourself an intention for this upcoming year. You don't have to wait until January! Do it today.
Who do you want to be in one year?
How do you want to feel every day?
What isn't working?
What needs to shift to make room for this vision?
Ask yourself these questions and really dig deep. Life is a gift, but it is yours to cultivate. Get to it my love. All that is waiting is your YES.