As we get older life takes on new texture and color. Sometimes it’s dark and disturbing. At other times it’s richer than we ever imagined. Our focus sharpens. Things that once were paramount in importance suddenly seem silly and frivolous. Other things, that we previously put on the back burner, take on a new sense of urgency. Making the shift into this new “mindset” is not always smooth. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself slipping back and forth between the two. Old habits of thought don’t go away quietly!
Social obligations are just this type of problem area for me. I enjoy people. Each and every one of my friends and family add a richness to my life that would not be possible without them. They give me love, spark my creativity, make me laugh, allow me to feel less lonely in my craziness. But, I am by nature an introvert and a loner. I enjoy solitude even as at times I fear loneliness. Over the years I did not allow myself sufficient time to live in my own world, think my own thoughts, explore my own imagination. I forced myself to “act” in a more culturally acceptable manner and I hounded myself for not being better at it. Consequently, the mean girl in my head beat me up regularly.
At midlife a major shift occurred and for the first time in my life I began to embrace who I was and let go of all of the external expectations that I had allowed to guide my life. At first it was a great relief. It was exciting, even thrilling to suddenly give myself permission to be me. As time went on, however, old patterns of thought began to rear their ugly head. Social obligations would arise and the old fashioned knot in my stomach did as well.
It is my believe that the universe works very hard to keep us vigilant. There is no time for complacency. A lesson not completely learned warrants a reminder, don’t you think? For me, when old patterns of thought crop up, sooner or later, I know I need to wake up to the fact that I have to practice saying “no” again. I have to exercise my right to be me, more overtly, even if only as a reminder to myself that who I am is important and that the external cultural does not have power over me.
If and when something similar happens in your life, use it as a reminder, a kick in the butt, an opportunity to grow stronger in your conviction to be you.
Here’s to being exactly who we were born to be! No more, no less!