steps of growth for my 23rd year
Yesterday, on July 26, I turned 23!
My year as a 22 year old was wonderful. My business did better than I imagined it could. I learned so much about myself and dug deeper into my beliefs and my goals. I moved out of my hometown into the "big city." I celebrated four years of marriage with Mitch and started this blog (maybe Mitch will start writing on it one day, LOL). I opened my eyes and wrestled (or started to wrestle) with my faith. I got hurt and stressed and anxious and overwhelmed, too. I faced some of my flaws and shittiness. But those things don't negate the wonder and beauty of the year, they just make me a regular human.
Today, I wanna share a few steps of growth I'd like to work on in the year to come.
1. Focus on and love myself.
I already feel an aversion to saying that out loud. It feels selfish. As women, we're taught our whole lives to not focus on ourselves, to focus on others instead. But you know what? 23 might be a "selfish" year for me, and I think that's okay and I think I need it. If we can't love ourselves we can't love any one else properly. So a "small" investment of focusing on yourself can pay off big time later on. Or I hope so, ha!
A lot of my self-worth over my life has come from the people around me (or lack thereof). Do people seem to like me? Do I have people around me I feel supported by? Do I feel valuable to people or do I feel like nobody needs me? If yes - I must be doing great. If no - dang, I must be a bag of shit. But this view of myself is completely OTHERS focused, and not ME focused. It has nothing to do with who I actually am and everything to do with who other people think I am (or what I think people think about me).
And I just want to learn to love myself, embrace myself, and walk into my Essence. To be an authentic and full version of myself in every situation - whether I'm alone, with dear friends and family, or with a hundred strangers. And hopefully people will hop on board with the human I'm discovering behind all these expectations and perceptions and personalities, and if they're not then I guess that's a shame because I'm just living as my truest and best self.
Am I going to get there in a year? No way. Am I going to get started and work on a firm foundation for myself? For sure.
I feel like I need to emphasize this (for me and for you)...
This is an important work and is not selfish.
We can love and care for everyone around us better when we are standing firmly in our own Wholeness. When we know who we are and when we love ourselves purely, we can grow into greater love and grace and understanding for others and ourselves.
2. Get moodier.
I've basically lived my life without moods. I've been mostly steady, mostly happy, mostly unrattled. Some of you may be thinking: "Umm, what's wrong with that? Sounds like a dream to have such an even temperament!"
But, it's not healthy to have no feelings. It's not healthy to live in apathy. It's not healthy to break down twice a year at 2 in the morning after ignoring any feelings for 6 months.
I want to learn to access my emotions as they come up instead of pushing them aside, and develop a more healthy and aware emotional life. Am I feeling stressed? Sit in it for a moment and don't push it aside with more work. Am I feeling hurt? Stop and let that emotion run over me. Cry if I need to. Am I pissed? Let it out, vocalize it.
I need to remember these things: I am lovable even if I'm angry. I am worthy even when I'm hurt and sad. I am valuable when I'm lost and stressed.
This basically is simply a sub-point to point #1 because it comes hand in hand with embracing myself more fully - including my emotions.
3. Get real, be free, shake it off.
As I've been learning more about myself and peeling back the layers, I've discovered that I have a lot of thoughts and opinions. I have a lot of passion waiting to be tapped into. I'm also not really shy or private at all. But I've spent most of my life unwilling to assert myself and being embarrassed when I got "too loud" or was "too much". I've been nervous to talk about topics that are "off-limits" - not because I'm uncomfortable but because I'm worried about making others uncomfortable. Growing up, I always wanted to be the soft-spoken introvert that every described as the nicest person they know. But that's not me, that's who I thought I needed to be to be a "proper Christian woman".
I am not "too much" when I have feelings or thoughts or opinions.
Now, I'm not interested in asserting myself into people's lives and being domineering - I simply want to feel more free to vocalize my thoughts and feelings. To stand up for what I believe is right/wrong. To be HONEST. To maybe surprise people every once in a while with my opinions. To be a little more fiery. To be passionate and not be scared that people will look at me as "young". To share more of the awkward and messy parts of life and be unashamed.
For example, here's something I feel passionate about: Let's stop banning certain topics from public conversation. Let's talk about periods, birth control, therapy, medications, anxiety, sex, pain, doubt, and other "off limit" topics more. We'll all continue to feel alone in our struggles if we never talk about them publicly. Social media is isolating when all we do is share the good stuff - let's share the hard stuff too and feel a little more united in a common humanity. Kay? Cool.
4. Learn about the lives of the marginalized.
I grew up in a community with basically one kind of person (with a few outliers here and there): straight, white, Evangelicals. And it's one of the reasons I wanted to leave.
My eyes have slowly been opening to the fact that I live a very privileged life. I'm in a heterosexual marriage. I am white. I have an Evangelical background. I've always had enough money to live well. Those are all privileges that many people do not have, and are marginalized because of them.
So many people have been pushed to the side by people like me. The LGBTQ community has been demonized and isolated and pushed away by my Evangelicalness. People of colour have been forced into slavery, colonized, and pushed out of their homes/lands by my Whiteness. My money has separated me from the poor and the homeless.
So I want to read about and familiarize myself with the stories of the marginalized and with those with different stories and backgrounds and struggles than I have. I want to listen and learn. I want to become an ally and advocate. I have so much more to learn.