Hey, it’s me again!
I’m turning 28 next week and am completely prepared to say goodbye to 27, the “milestone” age where I became a stranger to myself. (Seriously 2016 though) It feels odd because struggling to figure out who you are is known typically to be an adolescent struggle. Nope. I guess I can say I’ve discovered this can happen at any time in your life.
But it’s getting better, I can feel it.
If you are ever feeling a loss of identity, if you’re ever struggling to remember who you are, look for a better reflection. Go to your hometown, go to your old bedroom, go to your parents’ house. Go to your best friend’s basement where you spent forever, long ago. Go to that bar where everybody knows your name. Meet people who light up at the sight of you, who pull out unique traits and celebrate them. Immerse yourself in recognizable laughter and surround yourself with positive faces. If you do this, you will inevitably end up running into someone familiar… yourself. The best mirror to your true self is through the eyes of those who love you, unconditionally.
You may feel gone. You may be gone. But you are not gone completely. Dig up the remnants.
One of the hardest parts of overcoming a traumatic event is remembering who you were before it took place. Maybe it hasn’t been that long in reality, but my brain is stretching to recall what life was like before this collapse. What was I like before I looked at my reflection and didn’t recognize myself? My mind and spirit have spent so long altering themselves to conform to a situation, to protect themselves – and the result has been a totally different person. A frightened and censored person. Uh – that isn’t me.
It all feels like a mild form of amnesia. It’s as if someone was holding up an old photo of me, asking ‘Who is this?’ and I genuinely didn’t know.
So tell me, who was I? Who was I before I became scared to celebrate my cherished friendships I’ve developed over my life? Who was I before I became timid, less outgoing, less social?
Who was I before I put myself and my health last? Who was I before I stopped being proud of my work, my radio show, my home? Who was I before I felt self-conscious about my life choices? Who was I before I felt talentless, insignificant? Who was I before enduring all of this was normal?
Who was I before I spent every minute in a battle with myself, trying to convince myself that this was all okay and I was content living in this anxious state? Who was I before I was crushed beneath the weight of defending each of my actions? Who was I?
It’s kind of hard to know.
Believe me, the trauma of defending your character (who you’ve grown to be over so many years of your life) is ongoing and destructive, and not worth it.
And then … I opened my eyes a little wider. I am (or at the very least, in the process of) turning off that switch that told myself I wasn’t worth it. I don’t have to hide anything! I don’t have to feel embarrassed, or reluctant. I don’t have to censor myself. I don’t have to crawl around with my tail between my legs. I refuse to admit defeat – I can still be loved. I am appreciated for being myself. I have been reminded that I am myself for a reason, and I should never have to exhaust my entire being while proving myself to be worthy of respect.
And I want to be able to shine bright again! I want to be able to write again. To write brightly.
I jumped over a huge hurdle when I went to a friend’s wedding in September and was exposed to a pure love that became foreign to me – a love void of anxiety and fear and loss of sense of self.
Truthfully, I’m a little nervous that I’ll never get that girl who I once was back completely – however, I now feel a sense of awareness that definitely went into hiding for a while. From those closest to me, in Winnipeg and in Toronto too, I have been given that boost of reassurance that I’m free to be me, whoever and whatever that is, and this I’ve learned:
If you’re experiencing arms that are not open to embracing your identity – you’re spending your time looking in the wrong mirror. You are beautiful. All of the tiny quirky components that make you who you are .. are the things that make you spectacular. Your likes, your dislikes, your friendships, your stories, your past, your present, your goals, your identity, your word, your passions, your values.
Nothing ( AND nobody) is EVER worth changing a god damn thing on that list, or justifying anything on that list. I promise you that.
Never forget you. RISE.
(And PS – I’m back.)