“Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be.” ~Alan Watts
This is because I spent the first third of my life believing that in order to be validated, I had to be perfect…perfect meant being what others needed me to be…quiet…clean…ideal daughter…grand daughter…
Plus, I was just one of those souls who required validation from the outside world.
I felt invisible. I needed to be perfect in order to matter.
Clearly, I did not think I was enough. In fact, it’s taken me the better part of three decades to make peace with the idea that I am not only enough, but that I am exactly who I am supposed to be.
Growing up in the 70s and 80s I had all of these notions, largely fed by TV, pop culture, and my peers, about who I was supposed to be:
A Charlie’s Angel, Wonder Woman (but I’d be happy to be Lynda Carter), and a career-bound (not a stay-at-home) Barbie.
As I matured into my teens, I began to shed this billboard perception about life.
My head was turned less by action-hero ladies with perfect hair and more by, well, if I’m being completely honest, cute boys who listened to the “right” music and wore Polo cologne.
Now eager for their approval, I shaped myself into who I thought they wanted me to be.
This only got me so far. Having looked at my life from the outside in for so many years was a hard habit to break.
I was like a junkie for other people’s approval, permission, information, and maps.
I thought everyone except me was issued a handbook about life.
They seemed to “get it” while I was constantly scrambling to find my place in their world.
Of course, I was laboring under a massive illusion that I was the only one who felt this way.
One day the universe let me look under the hood and I was let in on a cosmic secret: tons of other people feel like they’re living without a manual. Lots of us are winging it, and being a little lost is how we actually come to find ourselves.
This epiphany was such a relief that I stopped trying to be what I thought others wanted and started getting really good at being me.
I would love to say that this powerful shift happened overnight, but it didn’t…it hasn’t.
The “just being me” remained a nuanced confidence-building process for a few more years (ten?) until I was able fully step into who I am in the world today…ok I am still taking steps on my path. But I am evolving….learning to appreciate me and all that I am! What a gift!
The wonder of it all—and another cosmic gut-buster—is that the more I align with my whole self, the more the world rushes into to meet me where I am.
I venture that if there actually were a handbook issued at birth, it might go a little like this:
1. You are a miracle. Never forget this fact. Just the science alone is mind blowing.
2. You are unique. No one will ever be as good at being you as you are. Seriously.
3. You are enough. Always. Never doubt this. There is nothing to add, but feel free to expand.
4. There is always more to learn, but that is not failure, it is a gift. It can be fun too.
5. Every obstacle is an opportunity to fall further into the miracle that is you.
6. Commit to being the best version of you every day. Recalibrate definition of “best” as needed.
7. Leave room for others when they fall off the wagon of their own miracle.
8. Forgive. Forgive. Forgive. Forgive every which way. Forgive him. Forgive her. Forgive you.
9. Compassion is the key to forgiveness. Compassion means you feel the humanity in others.
10.The more you forgive, the more you’ll enjoy being you, because the lighter your load will be.
11. In the end..in the middle just as in the beginning: You. Are. Amazing.