I never really imagined that at my age I would be where I am today.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my life. It’s a life that is BETTER than anything I could’ve ever dreamed of, better than anything I could’ve ever asked for. I live a life that is on one hand very ordinary and unassuming, yet also amazing and extraordinary on the other.
For the majority of my life, I’ve followed “the rules.” You know the rules … Go to school, get into college, graduate, get a job, buy the house, have the children, yada, yada, yada. I’ve deviated from the path here and there, but for the most part I’ve stayed on track. I’ve played it safe. I’ve worked the job. Married the man. Raised the children. I cannot complain. Like I’ve said, I’ve led a life better than anything I could’ve ever dreamed of or asked form.
College graduate – 2 Associate’s Degrees, 2 Bachelor’s Degrees. Registered Nurse x 30 years. Married x 2, although it truly feels like I’ve only been married once. Amazing children x 4.
For a long time I placed labels and defined myself, who I am, by what I do, or what I have accomplished. Student, wife, nurse, mother. The truth is, I am so much more than these labels. Yes, it’s true that I am a happily married, mother of 4. Yes, I am a Registered Nurse. But the truth is, I am a multi-layered being. I have so many different interests. I am something different, and play a different role, to every person that I meet and interact with. I can look in the mirror and see one thing, while when you look at me you see something entirely different. External labels do not accurately define who I am as a person.
I am someone who loves and cares deeply for my family and I enjoy spending time with them.
I am someone who enjoys learning, so you can find me with my nose buried in a book, or taking a class to add to my education arsenal.
I am someone who loves and appreciates what my body can do and I enjoy movement and challenging my body to see what it is capable of.
I am someone who recently discovered and unleashed her inner artist, and can be found painting and creating to my heart’s content.
I could go on and on, but the gist is is that I cannot accurately define myself as there is so much more to me than the mere labels of what I do, or have done. We are so much more than the mere labels that we place on ourselves or allow others to place on us.
We are all multi-layered, multi-passionate individuals, so much more than what one sees on the outside. No one can know EVERY thing about you. We all have parts of us that we don’t want others to see or know about. One of my biggest fears is that people will find out who I really are and that they will stop loving me.
There are NO rules. Those “rules” are preconceived notions of what success once looked like as defined by individuals who believed that this was the road to happiness and riches. As a someone who once followed the rules, I can tell you that it’s a hard road to stay on track. I followed the rules to please my parents, and in turn, I lost myself, afraid of looking bad, or bringing shame my parents. When I finally woke up from the nightmare, I had to admit to myself that I wasn’t happy and figure out who I truly was. That meant stepping away from the road that I had traveled on for so long and forge a new path.
What did it take? It took me remembering who I really was and accepting myself as I am. That’s right the good, the bad, and the ugly. It is a difficult thing to truly accept who you are. But here’s the thing … All of our experiences, accomplishments, and every failure or setback that we have encountered have made us who we are today and have brought us to exactly where we are today. We need to own it. Own yourself. Be proud of yourself. If you are not particularly happy with who you are of what you have become, you have the ability and the power to change this at any time by deciding that this is not who you are and doing better, getting that degree you’ve always said you were going to get, moving, committing to yourself, etc. You get the picture. You’re not stuck. You’re no longer the little kid that was neglected. You’re far from the teenager who didn’t do well in high school. Commit to yourself to make the changes you desire to make to become the person that truly know you are capable of becoming.
We cannot live our lives for others, not for our parents, not for our children. We can only live our lives for ourselves. YOU are the only one that you have to answer to. YOU define who you are. YOU are the only one who can answer if you are happy or not. You can’t blame anyone else, nor can you expect someone else to make you happy. The responsibility of your happiness does not fall in the hands of someone other than your own.
Every day that you awaken, every moment that you take a breath, you have the ability to change your mind and go in a different direction. You are full of endless possibilities. Take hold of the pen, or the paint brush of your life. Refuse to hand it over to someone else, and be gentle with yourself as you write/draw/paint your story. You can create ANYTHING you desire. If you don’t like what you have written or drawn or painted – start over. Be kind to yourself and extend yourself the grace that you would easily extend to others. You are worthy. Give gratitude for ALL of your experiences. And, most importantly, ENJOY the process of creating yourself.
As Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”