I kind of had an epiphany last night. It was an unexpected one, from a conversation where I least expected it, but it basically amounts to this:
I need to learn how to be happy. But I definitely don’t need to change or fix who I am.
Now I know all of you are sitting there going, “Duhh.” But this is pretty revolutionary for me. I’ve always felt like I needed to become someone else – even more intensely so the past few weeks. Less neurotic, less anal, more relaxed, more fun – a better version of myself.
Less of my head in the clouds, more of my feet on the ground. Less of a worrier, more of a go-with-the-flow gal. Less of this, more of that. Maybe a couple shakes of salt and pepper, and BAM! Perfect Sarah. New and improved.
I’m actually having a lot of trouble talking about this. I’m feeling completely overwhelmed. It’s like the rug has been pulled out from under my feet. The entire foundation of my world just vanished.
It’s amazing how an epiphany that is technically good, technically happy, can still completely upend you. I have spent my entire life (which, admittedly is not that long) believing that I had it all wrong. Somehow, somewhere along the line, I’d gotten it wrong – I was supposed to be somebody else. I wasn’t right. I’d broken.
And when I got sick – oh gosh. That really did my head in. I felt like I was being punished for being wrong, for being a terrible, awful person. I was totally convinced that I was secretly the world’s worst person.
I eventually began to get over that, and my confidence has grown in leaps and bounds the past few years, but still, beneath it all, there has been this nagging doubt that I still wasn’t quite right. That somehow, I still needed to fix myself. And once I fixed myself, I’d be happy because I’d be the right person.
And it’s not like advertising and self help books don’t play on this madly. I think everyone has this fear, to some degree, that they need to be fixed. That if you just had this new lipstick, or drank Starbucks, or had this bag, or bought these shoes, or tried this new system for productivity or blah, blah, blah…we’d all get fixed somehow. We’d become perfect, loveable, attractive and intelligent.
We all fall for it. It’s hard not to.
But the thing about this statement that completely did my head in was that I always thought that I had to fix myself before I could be happy. I wasn’t happy because I was broken and I was constantly worrying about how to fix myself so that I’d be the right person.
No wonder I’m neurotic. No wonder I worry all the time. No wonder I completely freak out sometimes.
So what if I just worried paid attention to what makes me happy, and did more of that? What if I stopped worrying about fixing myself? Maybe all of the things that I think need to be fixed would fix themselves. Maybe they’d just evaporate, because they would no longer have anything to feed them.
This whole thing kind of feels like I just pulled my finger out of the dam. There was an emotional and psychological whooshing this morning as my brain began to process all of the implications of this statement. That I don’t need to change. That I can rest and just be myself. That the constant pressure I have on myself doesn’t need to be there.
That I’m okay. That I’m safe. That me is a good thing.
Wonderful. Terrifying, but wonderful.