I have done a lot of soul searching this past half-year. Most of it has been successful, enlightening, but some has been a little disturbing and - I'll admit - embarrassing. And what better way to deal with embarrassing self-discoveries than to blog about them?
I've discovered many things, not only about myself but about what I want from life, from my journey with writing, from fitness, my marriage, and my friendships. You might be surprised to learn that it's quite a short list. It's not even a list, actually.
I want to be myself.
You see, I've discovered (as I'm sure many of you discovered when you were twenty-something years old and struggling to find a place in the chaos of motherhood, fatherhood, education, carreer-dom or what-have-you), that not everything has to fit perfectly in a neat little box.
I am not a neat little box kind of person. But, for some reason, I was convinced that I needed to be. Needless to say, there has been a lot of anger, disappointment, and self-loathing.
I'd like to say that I'm strong enough in my own beliefs and self-awareness to not let the things other people say affect the way I behave, but that would be untrue. Up until several months ago, I was so lost as a person that I would allow anything to define me if that only meant I could feel a sense of belonging, of worth, and of happiness.
It never worked.
Not only did it fail, but it confused me further, and that is saying something.
I struggled to find a place in a world of "happy" mothers, "fulfilled" wives, "confident" women. I never let myself believe that many of those "happy, fulfilled, and confident" people were just as lost as I was. I bet I looked pretty happy, fulfilled, and confident, too. In reality, I was drowning in the expectations I placed upon myself and those around me.
Since discovering that writing is not merely something I do as a release for my own benefit, the strength of my own identity has been growing.
After I took the step to write more than thoughts, lyrics, or words to be forever hidden from public view, I also chipped away a chunk of the wall of doubt that surrounded me. I began to see things in a different way. The confidence that came with being able to discover who I am as a writer has filtered into every other aspect of my life; an unexpected, but very much appreciated side-effect.
I've felt the shift the most as a mother.
Since the birth of my first child, I have struggled to fit into the mold of "mother". Maybe that sounds bad, to say I struggle, but it's the truth. I'm not the only one struggling out there, of that I'm sure. But I was so disappointed in my response to motherhood that I was afraid to speak of it out loud.
I was ashamed that I was overwhelmed.
I was ashamed that I was afraid.
I was ashamed that I didn't have the answers.
In short, I felt like a failure. I persevered and I fought and I cried my way through those first years, but I never admitted to myself that maybe, just maybe, I didn't have to fit into the role of "perfection". I never stopped to consider that "perfect" doesn't exist.
Now, as I become more aware of my own faults and strengths, I am embracing the imperfect. I am beginning to realize that the "right" way to do things isn't always going to be the right way for me. The idea of "perfect" is destructive. No exceptions.
As a writer, I've gained enough confidence to forget the "rules". I know what I want to write, and I know how best to write it for myself. I will always be learning, trial-and-error is my best friend, but I will never again let the opinions of others define me.
As a mother, I've discovered that my "style" of parenting doesn't have a name, a book, or a workshop. It's just me, and that's about as "perfect" as it's ever going to get.
As a person, I feel freedom.
Growing up is a hard process, but I'm getting there.