Becoming The Real Me

When I was very young:

I said I wanted to be a psychiatrist, but I was told not to aim so high.

So I didn’t.

I started to write poetry and short stories, but I was told to get my head out of the clouds.

So I stopped.

I was urged to go down the secretarial path, and it felt wrong.

But I did it.

I was told that I was dumb and I would never account to much, and I believed.

And I stopped believing in me.

There have been many, many occasions in my life when I’ve listened to the teachers, the critics, the doubters, the people who can’t understand what’s wrong with a ‘proper job’. So, when I left school, I got myself a steady 9-5 and made myself fit into a box of other people’s choosing. It was uncomfortable, it didn’t fit and the creative side of me felt utterly, utterly trapped. But I stuck with it, because isn’t that what you do? Then along came my children, the bright shining stars in my life of midnight black.

And through them, I shone.

With every silly verse or story I made up for them; I shone. With every game I created; I shone. With every nativity costume that I sewed; I shone. My creativity was finally set free. And, for that period of my life, I was content. When the inevitable happened and they started to grow out of riddles, rhymes and make-believe, I did what I was ‘supposed’ to do and got myself a job. It was a nice job, with nice people, yet every day that I walked through the office doors I felt suffocated. But yet again, I stuck with it – I stuck with it until I could feel my brain turning into mush – literally.

It was on the way to work after a Christmas break that it finally happened – I broke. It seems that if you’re a square peg, you can only force yourself to fit into a round hole for so long before something breaks. For me it was, well to be frank, it was me. I had a complete and absolute, ‘can’t leave the house, panic attacks in Tesco’ breakdown. It took a long time to fit the pieces together, and even longer to work out that the pieces weren’t actually me – they were a homogenised version of the real me.

Time passed and I healed, not completely – the beast called depression (or Bernard as I like to call it) still knocks on my door occasionally. There are also times when I have to quash a panic attack. But even with the depression and the panic attacks, I love my life. For it is exactly that; MY LIFE. I have a career that I chose, I take the opinions and feelings of other people into consideration, but every decision I make is mine and mine alone.

There is a voice inside which speaks and says: THIS is the real me.

 

It wasn’t easy evolving from a people pleasing / box fitting / I can’t person into an entrepreneurial / three company owning / built two blogs /qualified business consultant.

Yet I did it.

I did it despite the rolling of eyes, despite the criticism, despite the inner voice that whispered, “What if you fail?” And if I can live the life that I was born to lead then SO CAN YOU!

Other people just love to have opinions about how we live our lives don’t they? They love to give advice about what we should be doing and what we’re capable of. Some of these people may be incredibly well meaning, but there is a very fine line between advice and criticism – many people over step it; frequently.  So it makes sense to choose carefully what you listen to. Because people are not always right. Because people don’t necessarily know what is best for you. Because there is only one person who knows what is right for you and what you are capable of – YOU!

There is dream in all of us. What if you dare to make that dream a reality? What if you dare to live your life, your way. What if you answer your critics with these three words:

WatchThisSpace.

Here’s to the real you.

Cheerio.

5 Comments

  1. July 8, 2015 / 6:07 pm

    I love this! It definitely brightened up my day! Great post!

  2. Caitlin
    August 20, 2015 / 10:19 pm

    Loved reading your story! I hope you continue to be the real you and follow your dreams. I have hopes and dreams that I hope will be realized in their time as well. I can tell from reading your articles that you are a beautiful person with a beautiful personality. And by the way, you totally don’t look like a woman over 50! :-)

  3. Dawn
    August 31, 2015 / 9:51 pm

    At 45 I’m not sure if I’m living the life I’m supposed to. The answer has to be no otherwise I wouldn’t be asking. Loved your story Michelle, keep writing and I will keep reading. You are inspiring!

    • September 1, 2015 / 9:16 am

      Hi Dawn
      I think you’ve hit the nail right on the head – if you were happy with your life then the question wouldn’t even pop in to your head. Here’s what I did when I first wanted to make positive changes to my life:
      Get a pen and paper
      Draw a line down the middle of the page
      In Column A write: ‘Things that make me happy in my life’
      In Column B write: ‘Thinks that make me unhappy in my life’
      Then start writing, don’t think – just write. If you overthink things then you’ll start putting items into Column A, even if they make you unhappy. This is because you may feel uncomfortable about some of the things you write in Column B, so you’ll ponder and end up putting them in Column A or leaving them off the list altogether.
      For example: I wrote, “I wish I had been older when I had my first child.” In Column B. If I had overthought the whole process I wouldn’t have written it, it sounds as if I regret having my first child. But the next stage of the process is to really dig into your answers. So again taking my example, I asked myself WHY I regretted having my first child so young (I was 21). I really chewed over the question and it had nothing to do with my child, and everything to do with what I felt I had missed out on; parties, going out, etc. So I started to work on my shyness, made a bunch of new friends and started going out, going away with ‘the girls’, etc.
      This lasted for about six months before I realised that actually it’s not my thing. I hated the clubs and usually went home early. Girly weekends were too much like hard work – I don’t want to stay up until 4 in the morning talking, let me sleep!!! And no, thank you very much but I really don’t want to style the hair of 4 women twice a day. I now sound like a miserable git :)
      But I now know, and that addition to Column B has been erased. What I thought I had been missing out on was something I didn’t really want in the first place :)
      Not all the items you add to your columns will be easy to fix, some of mine took me years, and some you will decide not to change at all. But at least you will have a solid idea of what is making you unhappy, and how you are going to make positive changes to your life.
      I can’t promise that you will suddenly be happy overnight, but if you try this and it wheedles out the answers to your unhappiness, it can’t help but make you a more rounded individual with ‘happiness goals’.
      All the best to you, and let me know how it goes (you can contact me via email if you don’t want to leave a comment)
      Michelle

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