The courage to be me

September 17, 2014 § 16 Comments

For quite a long while, I lost myself. I completely forgot who I was.

I forgot that I was once a girl with options. A girl who could pick and choose from a number of possible destinies. A girl who was good at a whole lot of stuff – just as long as it didn’t involve throwing, catching or hitting a ball, or running with any grace or stamina. A girl who knew her limitations, but who also knew she had great potential. A girl with dreams. Big dreams.

One day I woke up and realised I had lost that girl. She was buried far beneath the labels I’d acquired. Mandy – the essential part of Mandy – was gone.

The difficult part of that realisation was the sense of deep disappointment. Because I knew the potential I’d had, but I had failed to live up to my own expectations. I had allowed others to shape my life, my destiny. I had allowed other people’s words and ideas and world-views to have such an impact on my life’s journey that I couldn’t even find the road anymore.

I had lost all confidence in myself, in my abilities, in my worth as a human being. And in case that’s difficult to understand, here’s some of what that looks like:

  • avoiding photographs because all I could see was a fat, ugly lump.
  • taking work I didn’t really want to do, often at a laughably low rate – because I completely undervalued myself.
  • constantly putting myself down.
  • assuming every compliment paid to me was just someone else trying to be nice – they couldn’t really mean it.
  • allowing people to patronise me and treat me like I was stupid.
  • volunteering to do all kinds of things I didn’t really want to do, because I thought those things were expected of me.
  • never asking for help and turning down offers of help when they came, because I didn’t really deserve help.
  • not trying anything new for fear of making a fool of myself.
  • believing every negative message I heard about myself, and assuming the positive messages were just polite lies.

It wasn’t pretty. And it took many months of work with a life coach before I started  feeling vaguely like myself again, like that girl with promise. For too many years I was just too busy being the girl I thought everyone else expected me to be.

It’s taken a great deal of courage for me to finally begin standing up for myself. To rock the boat. To not be the good girl, the typical eldest child, the deputy head girl, the supermom.

Being me means being willing to take a few more risks, relinquish control, let people down, fail from time to time. It means letting go of perfectionism. It means putting on my big girl panties and rolling with whatever the future holds, because you don’t reach your destination without going on a journey first, and journeys sometimes feature potholes and detours along the way.

So I will write. I will sing. I will crack my appallingly bad jokes. I will love and cook with wild abandon. I will teach and coach and get back into public speaking. I will wear the clothes that please me. I will welcome my friends into my heart and my home whether they need food or lodging, or just tea and sympathy. I will cry, dammit, and ask for help when I need it. And I will not ask for permission.

I’m not perfect – not by any stretch of the imagination – but I am perfectly me. And that’s all I need to be.

 

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§ 16 Responses to The courage to be me

  • Amen. I can relate to this!

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  • Perfectly you! Love this, well done!

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  • Trishpp says:

    Well done. It is so liberating when we find the courage to change. Go girl.

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  • Claire says:

    This is something I really needed to hear this week, thank you.

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  • Mandy says:

    Thank you for writing this very powerful piece brave lady 🙂 And like Claire, I REALLY needed to hear this today!

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  • Wow Mandy, that was so awesome to read. So very proud of you for becoming aware of your truth. You are amazing.

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  • Tracy Todd says:

    Dear Mandy

    Thank you for this touching blog post. It left a real lump in my throat because I can so relate.

    I felt like a useless piece of flesh after my accident left me paralysed from the neck down. I searched for something worthwhile to do with my life. I had no intention of becoming a speaker, but circumstances sort of dropped me into that role. In the beginning, I did it because it was something to do, but I eventually discovered that it brought me more joy, healing and awareness than I’d ever anticipated. Sharing my story with complete strangers, and hearing their’s, brought my soul back to life. People labelled me an “inspiration” and sometimes the pressure of living up to that is exhausting. Some days I just want to be weak, dependent and cry my eyes out. I often feel like I can’t out of fear of hurting those closest to me. Somehow they have a need to see me strong. I don’t want them to worry about me but some days I just want to be me.

    Thank you for showing me what courage really is.

    Love Tracy

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    • Thank you for your lovely comment, Tracy. I can’t even begin to imagine the journey you’ve been on.

      If I’ve learnt anything, though, it’s okay to be weak and dependent and cry your eyes out. It makes you human, and it makes other people feel that it’s okay for them to be vulnerable sometimes too.

      I’d be worried about you if you *didn’t* have those moments.

      Liked by 1 person

  • davepp says:

    Mandy you are such a warrior – writing this is extraordinarily brave. I hope it has been liberating for you too. You are changing how you view yourself, and most importantly, recognizing that others really admire and like/love you, for who you are, what you do, not the way you look or sound. This is so inspiring. Fluff out your tail-feathers. It is great to know you – even digitally…

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    • Thank you, Dave. I didn’t mean to write it: someone threw out the topic at me and this was the result. It’s been a journey and it’s had some unintended, difficult consequences, but it’s good to feel like me again.

      Liked by 1 person

  • mariekeates says:

    Sounds familiar! 🙂

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  • This is written from a true place, a place many of us avoid going. Thank you for writing this Mandy.

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  • Oh wow Mandy, thank you for being so brave in writing this. I can completely relate. I am slowly finding and learning to love myself as ME one little step at a time & your article is truly an inspiration to keep going and not give up! xox

    Liked by 1 person

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