I’m sitting here in my stretchy pants about to head to the gym (this butt is getting too big for anyone’s liking, trust me) and yet I can’t seem to peel myself away from writing this much-needed note to all of you. You know the saying, you get wiser with age? Well, I think mine should be more along the lines of: you get braver with age.
Let’s get real honest… I haven’t always loved myself. My entire life, people have always thought of me as the tough, strong one. But the truth is, I’ve always had a hard shell with a super soft center. There have been more moments than I can count in my life when I have changed and adapted to the way I was “supposed” to be. I did what others wanted, what others said. I put myself and my feelings, dreams and opinions last. I was afraid of doing something wrong, saying something wrong or just being wrong. I believed that they were right. I didn’t have the courage or confidence to look myself in the mirror and realize that I deserved so. much. more.
As a torn and heartbroken high schooler from Texas heading off to college, I ventured off into the snowy Midwest to take a chance on myself, for once.
Indiana? Why would you want to go to Indiana?
I didn’t know all the real reasons at the time, but I knew that I wanted (and desperately needed) a one-way ticket to find myself.
Fast forward to college graduation, finding my first job, living on my own, supporting myself, quitting that job for an even bigger adventure, getting married, finding another job, then another, moving (again), launching a business, and even new (super exciting, overwhelming, awesome, risky) opportunities that are as imminent as ever. There have been a lot of difficult days in the past 7.5 years. Mostly fighting for myself and what I need. Realizing that the road less traveled might be the best road for me to take. And learning that even though others might have trouble accepting the “you” you’ve become, you really are the best version of yourself and that’s what really counts.
A dear friend recently said that “certain people made up their mind about who you are a long time ago.” We were commiserating about trivial stresses and so forth, and yet she said something so profound and meaningful. And so effing true. There are people who think they know you, who you are, what you like, your interests and hobbies, your sense of humor, your beliefs, your passions and your sorrows. But they don’t. And they can’t acknowledge the new you because they simply don’t (and won’t) see the new you. They made up their mind on who you are a long time ago.
Am I still the hard shell with the soft center? Yes, absolutely, without a doubt. But I’m at a point in my life when I finally can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that I am comfortable in my own skin. Seeing myself clearly in the mirror and loving what I see. Sure, I have my moments of self-doubt (who doesn’t?) but overall I am the happiest I’ve been, ever. And after all that time of being worried I was always wrong… they are.
So does happy = brave?
I think back on where I’ve been and what I’ve had to overcome to get here. I struggled day in and day out with this image of myself that I simply wasn’t ever going to be good enough. That no matter what choice I made, what I said or what I did, it wasn’t going to be right. There was something to pick apart or disagree with. Trust me, after a while, you start to really believe that it’s better to be their version of you than it is to be yourself.
Yet I was brave enough to challenge that notion time and time again, learning firsthand what it means to be real — strong, passionate, smart, hardworking, thoughtful, compassionate, kind, loving, loyal, and most importantly, authentic. Turns out my soft center is the part of me that I love the most.
We each have this internal, innate ability to be brave. But the question is, are you brave enough to be brave? My friends, I tell you it isn’t easy. People throw around the word brave as if it’s as simple as a little pattern mixing.
To me being brave means doing 2 things:
1) Being your own advocate
2) Having the balls to do it
So be authentic. Be your biggest advocate. Take the road less traveled. Challenge the notions that work against you. Trust your gut. Look yourself in the mirror and love what you see.
And if you don’t, what will it take you to get there?