This past weekend I found myself wanting to make it all stop. To have some real quite. So I tenderly kissed my iphone and hugged my laptop and told them they need a time-out because they've gotten a bit crazy - what with all the beeping and buzzing and yelling and such. Now this is not to say that my weekend turned into some yoga/spa retreat and I heard nothing but the gentle sound of trickling water. No sir, not in this house. There was laughing and crying and the sound of a dishwasher getting loaded and unloaded and more "poops" declarations and that dastardly garage door that is migrane inducing levels of loud. But in my head things were more or less quiet, or perhaps the word I'm looking for is actually - clear. Things that have seemed confusing for months seemed to all of a sudden make sense and a feeling of peace began to slowly seep back into my mind.
I learned a long, long time ago (goodness gracious I am old) in Psych 101 about Maslow's hierarchy of needs. It's pretty simple really - a triangle composed of five levels beginning with physiological and ending with self-actualization, the pinnacle. Sadly for most people in this world they are in a constant battle to attain physiological needs. And just as many cannot say that their need for safety has been taken care of. Then we have what I suppose you can call "first world problems" such as the need for love and belonging (the third level) and esteem (the fourth level). For me personally, it seems as if I am forever stuck in the esteem level. All of my basic needs are met as is my need for love and belonging but my need for esteem seems to become sharpened every winter. When the weather gets cold and the sun rarely shines I start to question everything, but most importantly my worth. Is it me or is fomo the worst in the winter months? It seems as if everyone but me is doing something awesome. I find myself wishing I was in Paris or Mexico or the Caribbean. I wish I had a book deal, a "tour" for anything really, speaking at some cool event or designing something (clothes, jewelry, shoes, etc...). I wish this space was better (whatever that means, I really have no idea...), I got more comments (there I said it, the unspeakable truth of what we all think ALL the time, sorry) or more widely read. Gosh the "wishes" are never-ending until I just wear myself out and decide that it's all hopeless and crawl into a hole... So perhaps that's a bit of an exaggeration but you know what I mean.
But the thing is I don't really want any of those things. Even if I envy creatives that have carved out their own unique and incredible careers that doesn't mean it's for me. I know what my passion is and always will be (psychology) but in this milieu that I often find myself in (design creatives, mommy bloggers, shop owners) it seems passe to want or have a traditional career. It's almost as if you somehow haven't worked hard enough or just simply aren't interesting or creative enough. And for me that's very tough to swallow. Because I am a creative person and always have been. I've been painting and writing and dancing since I was a little child. But none of that has ever excited me as much as the human mind. And yet the fact that I will never turn my painting, writing or anything else into a career haunts me constantly. Am I not good enough? Not unique enough or talented? Why can't I just start a shop or business or what not? Why do I feel like school is the easy way out when I actually know that it's not?
The need for esteem I suppose. I've been wrangling these thoughts for some time in my mind until I started seeing this quote my Cheryl Strayed popping up everywhere:
“You don't have to get a job that makes others feel comfortable about what they perceive as your success. You don't have to explain what your plan to do with your life. You don't have to justify your education by demonstrating its financial rewards. You don't have to maintain an impeccable credit score. Anyone who expects you to do any of those things has no sense of history of economics or science or the arts. You have to pay your electric bill. You have to be kind. You have to give it all you got. You have to find people who love you truly and love them back with the same truth. But that's all."
Was that ever just what I needed to hear. Once again it was the wake up call I desperately needed reminding me to stop trying to be everything to everyone. The internet has a wonderful way of really sucking you down that rabbit hole. The classic "You have as many hours a day as Beyonce" demon haunting your very idea and perception of yourself. A quick scan of instagram often confirms my fears that I really am not doing enough because there are mothers out there with five kids, who's hair looks phenomenal and bake delightful cakes and run and smashingly successful business and reply to every comment they ever get faster than you can say "what??" I mean really? How and why am I complaining about parenting two kids? That's nothing. Try six. Or twelve (I've seen that too and sister you are my HERO!!). And truly this is not to make those women feel bad about their awesomness because I believe that they are the Tom Bradys of our world and come on? We can't ALL be Tom Brady. Or Gisele for that matter.
I'm saying that often, especially in these colder months, my mind becomes a negativity seeking missile and seems to always find plenty especially when we play the comparison game. Because it starts to feel like such a race. And there are so many labels to choose from and if you don't fit any of them it starts to feel like you don't belong. I'm not happy enough. I'm not sarcastic/sardonic/funny enough. I'm not chic enough. I care too much. I don't care enough. I share too much. I don't share enough. I post too often. I don't post often enough... So I ship myself off to the island of misfit toys looking for someone who is an introvert but also have a big mouth like me, who likes fashion but also sweatpants, who thinks her children are the biggest blessing and a gift from God but also locks herself in the bathroom with a bag of chocolate kisses and fantasizes about being childless in Vegas and reading a magazine front to back in one sitting (seriously though what kind of bliss would that be???), who loves Kazuo Ishiguro but also all the Real Housewives franchises (Orange County will always be my favorite) and who can never consistently use the same instagram filter and knows that's it's probably totally ruining her game. You know the line "if you don't have anything nice to say come sit by me" well my line should be "if you're a total weirdo and don't fit in come sit by me." Really please do join me, it's just me and... well nobody else but that means there's plenty of room!
This was all a very long and convoluted way of saying that sometimes we need to hit pause in order to realize "you know what I'm not really as ok as I thought I was." You run and run and run making everyone around you happy and smiling all the time and you don't even realize that you've started smiling as a reflex, not a genuine emotion. I don't want to do that anymore. Because not every day is perfect and some days are really hard. Some days I don't feel like smiling and I want to feel like that is ok. I suppose I want permission to just be me. I think I remember thinking that in college and here I am ten years later still feeling the same way. And perhaps I always will. Maybe that's life - never feeling like you fit in as a way of keeping you on your toes. But I think it's good every now and again to stop and remind yourself that "you've done good kiddo" and give yourself a pat on your back. Because it's gets tiring running and never feeling like you're catching up.
So today I'm telling you to go tell yourself you've done good. You're a darn good mama and your kids love you to the moon and back. You're beautiful and hard working and funny, even if you're the only one who thinks you're funny (pssst - probably means your sense of humor is better than most). You try so hard and you mean well and the people that truly love you know that about you and everyone else? Well they're just not looking hard enough and that means that their opinion shouldn't matter. You have a huge heart and a brilliant mind and you are so very special. Remember if all you've ever done is make another person feel special you have done IT!! That's kind of the amazing thing about making others feel special - it makes you feel special too. Easy peasy right?
And now, lastly, for a moment think about the way you feel about any one of your babies (here, in heaven or in your heart). Feeling all the warm and fuzzies? No matter what there is one person out there that feels EXACTLY the same feelings about YOU. Amazing right? Very Lion King circle of life. I like it. I like circles. And the Lion King. And this last quote I came across the other day (if you know the author let me know!!):
"You are the only one who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside."