For various reasons, I think that being a bit contemplative around one's birthday is a good tradition to have. I know some of us spend New Years Eve doing the annual reflection, but your birthday is your own private new year. With each birthday, you have made one more rotation around this beautiful planet of ours. It's a time to reflect on where you are in life, how far you have come, and where you would like to continue moving forward.
With my 44th birthday coming up in just a few days, I find myself particularly at a crossroads. To be honest, I never thought I would be in the current state I now find myself in - single for the last seven years, no kids, and still living in the city I was born and raised in. For the last seven years, I have been going through an intense transformation, most of it largely unbeknownst to me. I mean, I knew things were changing but I didn't have the bigger perspective yet. So, I don't have all day to tell you the shit I went through from about 2011 to 2021 but it was a real doozy. In a decade, I went through more changes and challenges than I would care to recount. But through it all, I continued to allow more of the "real me" to unfold.
For most of my life, I had been trying to fit into some mold of what I thought the world wanted me to be. What I thought would make my parents proud, what I thought old partners, friends, or co-workers would want of me. I have been afraid to really let me out. This week I had two of my coaches ask me really important questions. On Monday, my business coach asked me where my inner critic came from. The annoying part is that the critic has been there so long, I have started to think it was actually me. With this inquiry, it started to open up the possibility that this voice and I were not one and the same.
On Wednesday, my dance instructor asked me why I'm playing small. I know he's right because I keep hearing it and getting signs from the Universe that I'm meant to be doing more. To be seen, to be out more. The challenge is that when you have spent so many years in a pattern, it's hard to know what to do to get out of it. And even though I know both of these things are something I'm working on but it's a bit challenging when others are able to see my most challenging character flaws out in broad daylight with nowhere to hide. But as I've contemplated both of these things, I have seen just how closely connected they are.
See, my whole life, I have had this really mean internal voice. Yes, it has helped me to achieve a lot in my life, it has helped me to keep moving and pushing when I wanted to quit. But this voice has probably robbed me of so much, maybe more than I will ever know. Everything I do or don't do; this voice tells me how much I'm failing. it tells me to give up, to not even bother, that no one will care, or worse, that no one will notice. Over the years, I have gotten more and more familiar with it and have been able to move past it when possible. But the annoying part is that even though I do a lot of things out of my comfort zone, this voice tells me it's still not enough. I didn't do it "perfectly". It tells me I was awkward and weird. So, because of the constant heckling from this voice, it has been hard for me to really be seen.
For many years of my life, it would give me intense anxiety if someone was watching me do anything. I noticed it in my early 20's because before that, I was able to hide a lot. In my childhood home, I was the 5th of 6 kids. My parents were loving and supportive as much as they could be, but both of them were dealing with their own demons. For so many years, I didn't want to speak and be seen, I didn't want to stand out in any way. I hid and I learned to do it pretty damn well. Throughout life, this became an impossible thing to continue. And honestly, at some point, I wanted to be seen. I enjoyed people acknowledging some skill or trait I had (other than my academic prowess). What really has been the thing to throw me out of my comfort zone is ballroom dancing. I mean, the entire damn sport is based on looks and sexual energy and people LOOKING at you. Yea, the universe def knew what it was doing when it aligned me with this particular hobby.
And as I look back at pictures of myself through my adult years, I can really start to see myself. I see the strength and the cute awkwardness, I see the sometimes quiet girl who just wanted to be seen for who she really is. I see the sadness in her eyes, because I wasn't able to love her the way she deserved. I see the challenges and the hurts and the abandonments she survived. I see that she always picked herself back up, time and time again. I see where she was kind to others, where she went out of her way to make someone feel seen, special or heard because she knew how deeply it hurt to be ignored. I see this beautiful, amazing soul that I have had the intense pleasure of knowing for 43 years and 361 days. And that I get to continue to be with for many more years.
I would invite you, even its not your birthday, so spend a few moments objectively looking at your life. Look at all the things you have survived! This life is not easy. Things are not meant to be "perfect". Because I'm learning more and more that there is no perfect. Perfect is a concept created to keep us safe. And it might have the appearance of keeping you safe but what it actually does it keep you locked into this little box of life. It keeps you constantly doubting yourself, analyzing every little move, and staying more in the "what if", instead of the joy and possibilities. I just want to remind you that every experience you've had, has led you to this point in your life. Without each and every one of them, you wouldn't be YOU! And I think you're pretty damn awesome.
Much love, and Happy 44th birthday to me! I know it's gonna be a good one, Robin