BECOMING ME (finally)
When I was young, I wanted to be either a gym teacher, like my inspiring grade school gym teacher Mr. Fox, or a psychologist. I spent HOURS reading out loud and pretending to be a teacher, and playing school with my sisters. Mr. Fox was one of the most inspiring people in my life and I wanted to be the same for others. I loved to teach, coach, mentor and motivate and inspire people.
But I didn’t become a teacher OR a psychologist. Because I listened to what OTHERS thought was best for me. From my early teens and twenties (not counting my rebellious teen years when I quit school to be a professional asshole player), I didn’t follow my gut, and I listened to what other people told me was BEST FOR ME. I have no idea why I didn’t trust myself, but I believe it has to do with one or all of the following:
- Being a people pleaser
- Avoiding conflict
- Doing what is easy and fun over what is right
- An inability to say no due to being a people pleaser
- Low self confidence and self doubt from being consistently told that what I wanted wasn’t good enough/right/best for me
It took me until my MID-THIRTIES (gasp) to finally start living my life on my terms. What changed? THREE WORDS.
I GOT DESPERATE.
I had two kids under 3 and I was deeply unhappy, overwhelmed and I didn’t know who I was anymore. I was living someone else’s life. Someone I didn’t like, or even agree with. When my mother died at the young age of 56 I realized that LIFE IS TOO SHORT to live that way. I will always remember what my therapist said that changed EVERYTHING.
“Why is OTHER PEOPLE’s happiness more important than yours?”
I was putting my kids and my husband, my family, my friends, and even TOTAL STRANGERS needs ABOVE MY OWN.
When I thought about the answer to that question I realized why.
I thought that MAKING OTHER PEOPLE HAPPY WOULD MAKE ME HAPPY.
Truth was, that:
- I wasn’t happy.
- Me not being happy didn’t help me make others happy.
- I couldn’t take good care of my kids and the rest of the world when I was depressed and not wanting to get out of bed in the morning.
- I didn’t even know what happiness was for me.
THE MIDLIFE RENAISSANCE
It wasn’t until I decided to finally TAKE CARE OF ME that things really started to change. I started to stand up for myself, listening to my gut, and making choices that were RIGHT FOR ME (and stopped giving a F#$% about what other people thought).
I started prioritizing my needs. I started saying no. I learned to trust my gut and take some risks. I started doing things that people say were “selfish” but really it was all about reclaiming my life.
Little people pleasing, middle child, devoted YES sayer Mia, put her big girl panties on a started saying no and this created LOTS OF CONFLICT. This is not easy for an avid conflict avoider but I knew that my life depended on it and I learned a lot in the process…
Here are some lessons:
- Asking for what you want doesn’t make you selfish, it makes you brave. You are worth it.
- You are not broken, you are AWESOME and there is nothing wrong with you. You don’t have to settle for anything less than you want need or deserve*. *I am happily divorced from another AWESOME man who also isn’t broken/bad/unworthy. We just weren’t happy together and not giving each other what we wanted or needed. Nothing wrong with either of us just different. END OF STORY.)
- Letting OTHER peoples VALUES and EXPECTATIONS FOR YOU get in the way of YOUR LIFE is no way to live. The only person it hurts when you shape your life to other peoples standards is YOU.
The Midlife Renaissance is about exiting your comfort zone and parachuting into the great unknown. When you learn to trust yourself, and your instincts, and following through certain things will happen:
- Choosing courage over comfort will be scary but will build your confidence exponentially.
- When you make your own decisions, you will make your own mistakes. OWN THEM and learn from them.
- You will fall A LOT. You will doubt yourself. Carry on.
MY ONE REGRET
This September in my 42nd year of life, and with a fresh new baby, I am starting teachers college. The Midlife Renaissance has lead me back to where it all began… What I wanted all along. What I was told wasn’t “good enough” was exactly where I needed to go.
In the end, my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.
I’m not here give you advice. I am here to tell you my story and hope you can learn from it. In the words of Sarah Knight in her book You Do You:
“I simply wasn’t happy and I didn’t want to show up. Another. Single. Fucking. Day.”
If that is how you feel in your life right now, it is time to reflect and take a long hard look at what is going on. Give yourself the permission to be yourself, ask for what you want and don’t settle for less… Stop caring about what other people think, stop trying to be perfect and JUST DO IT, whatever “IT” is for you. It is about time you take responsibility for your own life.
“You should never sacrifice what you could be for what you are. You should never give up the better that resides within the security you already have - and certainly not when you have already caught a glimpse, an undeniable glimpse, of something beyond.”
- Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules For Life