Maybe it’s because I’m spending more time online and on social media like most of the world. Maybe it’s because I’m drinking in all these unprecedented times and the never ending reality of being at home with my thoughts. (Can we veto that term for the rest of forever? That’d be cool). Maybe it’s the occasional anxiety attack and middle-of-the-night migraines that still happen. But I feel like now, in this crappy year of 2020, a flip has switched to DO all of these things I read, listen, and write about. To take action on the things that matter. To tell and show my friends and family how grateful I am for them. And to not take any job, any person, and any moment for granted, regardless of how different and challenging things may feel.
There are words. And there are actions.
You can know or understand the concept of grief or anger or understand that you need to put ‘you’ first and that, at the end of the day, it’s the relationships and connections you have that matter. That you matter. But without any consistent, daily action on these thoughts or beliefs, are we getting anywhere?
Is it really sinking in?
Does your best friend or your family really feel like you make them a priority?
If you’re like me, the answer is no. And if you’re even more like me, the reaction is guilt. Followed by hiding. Followed by lame apology. Just when I think I’m overcoming a stupid thought pattern or behavior, I realize I’m falling so hopelessly flat on so many more important areas, and people, that matter. Look here for how I recognized this back then and even now still don’t feel I’m really getting it.
For the longest time I just wanted to feel like me. And I felt like since I hated to be around me and sit alone with me, no one else should be around it either.
That’s a fact.
Run. Hide. Don’t let them see you hurt. Run. Hide. Fool them. Repeat.
But my goodness, Em, how selfish. And crappy not only for you, but everyone around you.
Those are the moments when the people you love – friends, family, partners – that’s the time to hold them closer and tell them what you’re going through. Hiding and running is easier. And we think it’s protecting us and protecting them. But here I am after years of running and I’m just now seeing how all this time I’ve been taking the easier path and hurting myself and others in the process.
One of my oldest and dearest friends has a way of cutting to the core of me.
On more than one occasion she will say something that instantly hits me and I, no joke, feel a legitimate physical shift in my perspective.
I don’t even know if she knows that she’s done that. But boy am I glad she has.
A few weeks ago she said something so simple and so honest. I was explaining to her this constant battle I find myself in of showing I’m good enough or hitting the high expectations set for me (or rather the ones I set for myself). That I have to prove myself first and then I’ll earn the respect, love, job, position, person, I have or want. And how exhausting that is and how it only leads to anger and resentment and blah blah blah. Yeah, no shit Em. Perhaps there’s many of us that can related to that “being enough” and “proving yourself” mentality, no? It’s felt everywhere from personal relationships to professional relationships and everything in between.
Anyway, she simply let me talk and let me get upset and then told me,
“The people that are meant to be in your life don’t hold you to any expectations. You don’t have to prove anything to them. They’re in your life because they want to be.”
And once again I felt something in my head clear up. Maybe you read that and you’re like well duh. And if you are then I’m genuinely happy you feel that and never felt the frustration of not feeling enough in some form or fashion. Or maybe you have but it didn’t take hold of you like it might to someone else. No one should ever feel that.
I was in a relationship once that I always felt like I was proving myself and showing this person why they should want to be with me. Holy moly how stupidly unhealthy. And if that’s the vibe and expectation he was putting on me and I let him do that?? Yikes. But of course, we all find ourselves in those painful situations we know in our gut feels too hard, but we think we can change it and control it and over time it will start to feel better. But, like my mom told me once, if it’s right it shouldn’t feel that hard. It shouldn’t be that much work.
I’ve been in work situations where I felt the same thing. The same high bar I had to somehow meet. Show my boss I can do this. Prove so and so wrong. Outwork everyone. Think you have ‘balance’ and say you don’t let work run your life yet you’re the person answering emails on a Saturday night or jumping in when someone calls off. Your “day off” becomes the day you schedule that meeting you didn’t otherwise have time for or you catch up on the things you didn’t have a chance to do in the office. And it’s become so much a part of your entire existence that you don’t know how to turn it off anymore. That you’re so used to not being able to do things because you’ll most likely have to work, that you’ve allowed it to be normal. When it’s anything but normal.
In some work situations, sure. Step up to the plate. But if a job or person is making you question your individual worth as a human and the value you bring to the job or position that was given to you, hell freaking no, kids. Check yourself and really figure out how to step up to the damn plate.
Which brings me back to this current moment. And trying to step up to the plate for the people in my life that matter. And by stepping up to the plate for them, I’m doing what is right and best for me.
Sometimes we forget that by investing in people, we are investing in ourselves.
By investing in your people, you are investing in your business.
By showing them you love them, you’re showing yourself you love you too.
It’s 2020. And the world is a mess. Yet I sit here feeling very grateful for what I do have and who I have in my life that I want to make sure know how much they mean to me.
I find myself continuing to come to terms with the unhealthy thoughts, patterns, behaviors, defense mechanisms, etc, that I’ve let dictate my life the majority of my twenties. Who knows, maybe even before then. We all have them. And I think, in my experience, you either catch it early on and you’re strong enough to pull yourself out or shift your behaviors over a shorter amount of time. Or you find yourself, like I currently do, thinking I’ve worked myself out of those self destructive patterns when really they are still alive and well and it’s been going on for so long that it feels too normal.
Well. Welcome to my messy middle. The middle of the story when you think you have things almost slightly figured out but then you realize you’re the same girl you’ve always been just with some deeper wounds that don’t heal as fast as you thought they would.
In a way I feel like I need to make up for the lost time of running and hiding these last few years. Not from others, but rather from myself. But it so happened to look like running from others. And I was too caught up in my own head to think that it might be hurting them. Friends like to know what friends are feeling. The good, the bad, the ugly.
And like my best friend said, the ones that are meant to be in your life aren’t holding you to any expectations. They’re simply there because they want to be.
So I owe it to my friends and my family to be there and to share with them how I’m feeling. Because when running or hiding feels easier, I recognize now that’s the time to pick up the phone.
I’m very grateful that this shitty year has forced a lot of us to reckon with this stuff.
And I’m very grateful for the lovely little Thanksgiving I got to share with my big sister yesterday. Because, again, I owe it to her to be here. To hold zero expectations over anything and to show up for her like she’s shown up for me.
And wow I can’t wait to prove this even more to myself and others when the world opens up and I can go to everyone I care about and give them the biggest dang hug ever.