I am incredibly sensitive and emotional. When negative aspects of my personality are pointed out to me, I tend to cower and become small. I quiet my voice, try to hide, and disappear into loneliness. I don’t like hearing what people don’t like about me. Honestly, who would? This is becoming a bad habit of mine the older I get, the more I come into myself and figure out who I want to be. It is such a strange contradiction to feel so much more myself and yet, I still want to hide, I still want to be small, and quiet. I fear that the changes I have made, whether they be for the better or not (and in whose opinion?) are going to be looked down on. So, I stay quiet.
I recently bought the book 52 Lists for Happiness after seeing it all over my Instagram feed (before I got rid of Insta). I am always looking for ways to improve my happiness. Because I am sensitive and emotional, and because I have a history of anxiety and depression, I am on the lookout for ways to make myself feel better, to take a deeper look within, and to write about what I find. This is a new practice, one that I am still getting used to.
As I look through the book, I begin to search for the lists I want to avoid. It must be something in my subconscious making me want to avoid these lists for the very reasons I need to write them out: they will make me uncomfortable, they will make me dig too deep, they will make me point out the good in me. All of those things give me anxiety. It has always been that way with books similar to this. That has left me with a lot of half-filled out books and lists and prompts. I don’t have people knocking down my door with compliments, they aren’t handed out to me like candy, and I don’t go fishing for them either. I’d rather be left to my own devices.
I’m leaving 30 behind and bringing in 31 in a few months. And I think I am starting to like who I am. I have mellowed out a lot, the sarcasm that used to be my native language is beginning to lose its humor. I’m a mother, one who is desperately trying to set a good example for her children. I’m realizing though, for someone who *thinks* she likes who she is becoming, I am still fighting the inner critic telling me I’m not enough- not good enough, not talented enough, not smart enough, and definitely not a good enough mother. And I am having to silence that critic and it’s hard. It’s hard to do when I have silenced my own inner voice for so long, when I have remained small, and cowered with fear for decades. It is hard to break old habits and form better ones. One of my goals for this year was to learn how to take care of myself. I have found myself under water for the past few years, drowning in the trenches of early motherhood. Self-care has become vital to me learning how to swim, to navigate these deep trenches, and to still enjoy the struggle that comes with learning how to be a mom.
So, I write. And I make lists to remind me of all the reasons I have to be happy. And I vow to treat myself better, not just for me but for the beautiful children I get the honor of raising. Especially for one little girl that is so much like me. I don’t want her to grow up silencing her voice because she thinks she doesn’t matter, that she isn’t being listened to.
If I want to help her become a strong woman, then maybe I should start honing those characteristics within me. I want to be an example for her, I want her to look up to me and notice our similarities and see that I don’t make myself small, that I speak my mind and don’t let people walk all over me or make me feel bad about who I am and what I do. I don’t see my faults as something that hold me back, but something that I can learn and grow from. If I want her to believe that she can do and be anything she wants, I need to start believing that about me too.
I didn’t realize that when I bought this book and opened it up to list 19, I would be getting a crash course in motherhood and self-love. I know that I would do anything for my children. They deserve a mother who is confident in who she is and loves who she is. I will become that for them.