There is a picture on my bookshelf of a quote that I like. It reads:
“She needed a hero, so she became one.”
For most of my life I would have said that sounds like someone who is full of themselves…today I say it’s the quote of someone who has challenged themselves to find the power in their own story and sees the beauty in anyone else who wants to take control of theirs. The twists and turns of my life have caused me to wrestle with some big narratives, whether it was my shyness, or finding my core values in an less than traditional family set up, life is better the more we understand ourselves how know how we want to show up in the world. But, because I have examined my patterns and thoughts, I have found a level of connection, kindness, and calm that produce a deep level of contentment on most days. So many thoughtful conversations come from considering your own steps and observing others and then knowing what questions to ask. The nature of the narratives of our lives is that they are personal, what is true for one story, may not work for another…which is why we should stay away from judging other people’s perspectives and either bond with what we have in common or can find compassion for, or set boundaries to protect what we see as our best way forward in our own life. Going back to what I wrote about. last week, we can’t control other people, but we are solely responsible for creating the best version of ourselves.
Optimism doesn’t mean that every twist and turn of life is joyful and easy. In fact, it’s the tougher moments, the challenges, and even the stress in our lives, that comes to teach us and make us stronger. This reality gets sticky for me sometimes, usually around issues that I feel define my character and the way I present myself. I’ve had to learn to trust myself, rather than the outside opinions that I was a fan of taking in, and trust the gut that I have developed from a lifetime of listening.
At some point, we all have to take ownership for our own lives, figure out why we make the choices we do, embrace what we love about ourselves, and get after changing the things we don’t.
Because I believe so deeply in authenticity, but have also learned that not every story in our life is for everybody, I know that I have to be accept the fact that some will vibe with my personal philosophy of life and some will pass on it.
I had a little gathering at my new house not too long ago and when I stopped to pay attention, I was inspired by the generations of people that I find connection with. Every decade from teenagers, who are my kids friends, to people in their 70’s showed up to hang out. As I always say,
“pay attention to what you attract because it’s leading you to your purpose.”
This experience, hanging out with people who are a part of my life, whether at yoga, on the volleyball court or others who help me stay healthy and sane over the course of my days, inspires my belief in connection and generational learning and makes me want to create a world where people aren’t so guarded and afraid to tell their stories, so I lead by telling mine. It’s not for attention, it’s because writing is cathartic and creates a sense of belonging with people who get me.
Part of building a strong and supportive tribe is knowing that we won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and, if we try to be, we end up exhausted and hiding our uniqueness that we have to share if we want to create health and happiness in our lives.
For so much of my life I was the young one, always feeling like I had so much to learn, afraid to put myself out there, and yet with this little voice in my head telling me all kinds of cool insight and stories, probably why I enjoy my alone time. I didn’t know that learning to manage criticism and judgment were a natural part of gaining a stronghold on our own lives, so naturally, I tried to avoid anything that might draw attention to myself. In school, I was always the youngest in my class, then I got married at 22, so most of the couple friends we had were older than me because really, not many people, even 20 years ago were getting married that young. It’s only been in the passing of the last few years that I have taken over the roll of one of the older ones. It’s like my old soul has finally caught up, and now I want to make good on the time I have left, which has me thinking about some of the things I want to work on in the New Year…
I will continue to ask, and even more frequently, knowing that silence or even rejection (I still can’t decide which one is more internally uncomfortable) isn’t a reflection on my worth or purpose. I am the only one who defines it. There is always the possibility that a connection is created with a yes. If we control our own mind, an ask is at best a neutral position, and even better, we get a yes and move the ball down the field.
I will embrace the wisdom that comes with age and love myself for both the changes that come, and the work I put in to stay healthy and free. I’ve been putting a camera on my face more often and have noticed that my initial instinct is to be more critical of myself. I’m learning to put my face and my voice out there anyway, because what you see is the real me, getting better…and that’s the best thing we do each day for ourselves and the generations that come after us.
I will separate myself from judgment of anything but my own path, find compassion for my own story, and set the firm boundaries that create healthy relationships in my life. Today I know how to do this and I want to teach others how to feel the strength I feel from learning this essential life skill.
Why share your real story? Because it matters and it helps create understanding in this world. And you will indeed end up becoming your own hero when you find the power in your story. The pain is in the shadows, it begins to subside when we learn to bring it into the light. The challenge is to decide who to share it with, it doesn’t have to be in a blog…start with one person, find your connection, and the most beautiful healing will take root inside of you.