ARE YOU LIVING YOUR LIFE FOR YOU?
I grew up in an extremely science-based family so my brain operated on logics and not intuition. I preferred maths, human biology and chemistry due to the black and white nature, and struggled to understand English and Social Sciences as I viewed them as ‘grey’ subjects (aka. you’re never 100% sure what the right answer is). In English class, I’d try so hard to write my essays based on what I thought the teacher wanted, not what I felt pulled to discuss or passionate about.
That is how I lived my life.
Not just in English, but all areas.
Every decision I made was based on what I thought society wanted.
I should have clear skin.
I should be petite.
I should wear fashionable clothes.
I should ooze confidence.
I should be glamorous and beautifully made up.
I should eat salads.
I should, I should, I should….
I was a serial ‘should’-er.
The sad thing was, this belief was so ingrained in me, that I had no idea who I was anymore or what I wanted. I only ever knew what society wanted and the lines between me and society became seriously blurred. I never consciously realised it was happening, but I was never truly happy.
I’d get nervous and worried every time I did something, because I was waiting in anticipation for how the world would see me.
The only time I remember feeling utterly blissfully free and exuding bucket loads of confidence, was when I was travelling alone. I was standing in the middle of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, and completely surrounded by total strangers who (I soon realised) would never see me again. Once that comprehension hit, I relaxed. I stopped second guessing my actions, thoughts and emotions.
I was just me. It’s like I was hit by a shooting star, this overwhelming sense of freedom and pure joy flooded my body. I was freaking free. It was addictive.
Back in Perth though, I quickly fell into the same hole.
My old self-inhibiting thoughts returned…”what would people think of me, I’m not good enough as myself, I’m not pretty enough, not smart enough, not worthy enough…” These beliefs were SO subconscious, I didn’t even know they were there, but it threw me right back down into anxiety territory.
Years and years and years of recurring stories and thoughts cemented these beliefs. It kept the gorgeously, magical glowing swirl of colours that was me, locked deep down in my heart in a safe place. So safe that I struggled to access it. Because my fear deemed these qualities dangerous. They’d expose me to criticism, exclusion, judgement, dislike, rejection.
I can only describe who I was as grey.
A dull cast of grey, while that pool of brightness and joy was trapped deep in the depths of my heart and covered by black self depreciating thoughts. The problem was, I had no idea this was going on inside of me. I had no idea this beautiful pool of magic existed inside me.
Until the day my emotions hit a dark spot.
The only way I can describe it is imagine that bright magical pool of colours screaming out. Screaming so loud their voices were hoarse and hopeless. The dark sludgy fears above kept shooting wisps of anxiety throughout my body, which buckled down the hatches and prevented that pool of magic from exploding and consuming my being like it should have.
The day my depression came, the dark sludge grew stronger and stronger.
It felt like that magical pool had given up sending me any slivers of joy it could let loose and instead it just cried.
It was so detached from who I was, that it just felt despair. Despair and utter sadness. It got to a point that the brightness, joy and happiness stopped trying to escape. I no longer felt a beautifully warm and happy embrace in my heart and soul.
My little glimpses of joy each day stopped.
I’d sit with my gorgeous dogs, pat them and feel nothing. Not necessarily sadness, just nothing. I was apathetic. No little tingle of joy in my soul, no swelling of joy in my heart.
This was my breaking point.
Not the years of anxiety or overwhelm, but the depression.
I was so early into the days of depression that I noticed the absence of joy. I knew it shouldn’t be this hard to feel happy and I missed it. I craved joy and happiness like I crave jam donuts (which is a lot).
This depression created change in me.
I dove head first into really nourishing myself. My body, my brain and my mindset and beliefs.
The beauty is, I managed to not only heal my depression, but I also healed my anxiety and stress. I forgot what life was like without them.
Strangely, I’m so grateful that depression decided to grace my life. I truly believe I was meant to go through it.
Because if I didn’t, I never would have taken the steps to transform my mental health and realise there was a life I really wanted, but I wasn’t living.
I got to know what depression and anxiety represented to me. I got to know why it appeared in the first place. I got to know why it overtook me at this point in my life and why not earlier. I got to know how to let it go and set it free. I got to know how to live each day in a way that meant it wasn’t coming back.
Six months later, I’m now an entirely new person.
I say new, but she may have existed in my earlier years when fear of being yourself wasn’t so strong. Definitely prior to pre-primary and my first recollection of wanting to fit in.
This new person isn’t afraid.
This new person doesn’t let fear govern her.
This new person loves who she is.
This new person may have little speckles of grey still floating around, but that beautiful magical pool of colours is no longer trapped deep in the depths of her heart and soul, but now floods every single cell and atom in her body.
She no longer lives a life dictated by what she believes society expects of her.
She lives a life in alignment with herself.
Other peoples opinions, judgements and criticisms bounce off her, because she is sure of who she is and who she wants to be. The anxiety of needing to fit in and to please everyone is gone (or mostly anyway).
If you can’t already tell, I’m a visual person. So for me, I can’t just feel alignment, I need to visualise it. To me, being in alignment with who I’m supposed to be is this bright white light that is glowing from my heart and beams ahead of me.
This white line is my alignment.
My journey in life. The one that feels right in every cell of my being, even if my logical brain says otherwise.
Each time I take another step forward in life, I now have that emotional radar that detects if it matches up with that white line, or if I’m aiming in completely the wrong direction.
Am I being true to myself and embarking on a journey that is right, or making decisions based on the influence of society and the opinions of those around me?
Situations in life can still feel freakin’ daunting and can sometimes make me want to curl into a ball in bed and hide. But now I can distinguish these emotions between fear and being totally against my gut instinct (aka. curling into that ball is a good idea), or daunting with butterflies in my belly but really exciting and totally in alignment with who I want to be.
Going to new events, meeting new people, putting my true self out into the world are still scary. But they’re also really exciting.
I’m still only human so those self depreciating thoughts still try to weasel their way in, but they don’t last long as I can quickly work through them and set them free. If I ever feel confused by all the opinions thrown my way in this world, I always ask myself:
Who do I want to be and what do I want my life to look like?
Society can no longer make me feel uncomfortable in my own skin, make me feel less about myself, influence me to dress a certain way, or make me second guess that what I’m doing is acceptable by the masses and will make me be included and liked.
I work hard on not caring what society thinks of me, because I’m darn proud of who I am.
The anxiety, fear, worry and hopelessness I felt attempting to fit in and do what society said was acceptable is so not worth it.
True happiness and freedom can only come from being yourself, and embracing all that you’re supposed to be.
So I say to you:
Live a life that is in complete alignment with you.
Not a life that society dictates is the correct way to live.
Not a life where you’re constantly second guessing yourself.
Not a life that is controlled by the opinions and influence of your friends and family.
A life that feels right in your gut, in your heart and in your soul. But not necessarily in your brain.