Thinking back over my few years in life, I’ve never felt more whole than when I was about five or six. I felt my most alive or most validated at around eleven or twelve. This already was a sign that I was forming an idea of who I was and what I am capable of based on feedback from people around me. I knew I was fast to grasp new concepts, studying was not hard, I was very entertaining and I frequently heard that I was “weird”. I looooved being called different or weird. Comments like these made me even more proud of who I was. To me it meant that I stood out. I was different. I was indeed unique. I revelled in my uniqueness. When most of my pears fought to fit in, I fought to stand out, but still be accepted or adored. The line didn’t feel fine then. It became a lot finer as I grew older.
I think we break a little more every day as we grow. It is true that we really do spend our lives unbecoming what we were told we are. You are none of what they say. You are not even what you think you are. A few people are blessed enough to grow beyond this madness, this chronic race to who-knows-what. To some this race has a clear end goal: a professorship, a successful business, a mother to abandoned animals. Your role seems to be clearly defined. I have seen so many people fall into utter depression when Life takes away their ultimate role, the role they identified so much with, that without it they are empty, they do not exist.
What you are doing, is not who you are. There. I typed it. I can’t say I get it yet. I am trying. I am not a digital designer. I can stop doing this and I will still be worth all the worth I was when I did this. I am not worth more because of it. Nor is anybody else worth less because they do something else, something that earns less prestige by the merits of the world…madness is assigning merit by job title. I know more mature janitors than I do business owners. I have had better conversations with bathroom cleaning crews than I ever had with managers.
A knew thought is starting to form: I am not even hurting from the things I think I’m hurting from. My mind keeps the pain alive. If I keep repeating the situation that caused the pain to myself or I keep looking at situations around me to confirm the painful thought, I keep the hurt alive. Right now that situation doesn’t exist anymore. Only the memory and the pain my mind attaches to it. The situation and the pain was real. The pain is still alive because my mind has validated it with other events that seemed like it confirmed the hurt I felt. The truth is that nothing can diminish my worth. I can temporarily forget my worth and buy into the idea that I lost value. That’s on me. The minute I realise what I am doing, I can remember my worth again and I feel the weight lifting.
I am slowly unbecoming all the labels I held: smart, funny, cute, sassy, naive, drunk, infertile, loyal, driven, angry, bipolar, suicidal, pregnant, mom, wife, daughter, girl, human…all of it. It’s taking a lot of oiling to get the glue from some of the labels to dissolve, but one by one I’m starting to see these labels removed. I’m not seeing the same form in the mirror anymore. Bit by bit the light is returning.
My heart aches when I think about the fact that my children will have to go through the same becoming ,and then unbecoming. I can only guide and facilitate the journey. Their choices are their own. Their journey is not mine. The only practical advice I have is to do what your hand finds to do at the time you have to do it. Don’t categorise it. Don’t label it. Be busy with the things you need to get done and find the joy in it. There is joy in all of it, if you stay in the moment and don’t already pull ahead or look back.