#TBT: Why Our Old Issues Resurface in New Ways
DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE NOT?
that's a serious question.
FIGURING OUT WHO WE ARE NOT IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS deciding on WHO WE ARE.
as we're trying to create and re-create our concepts of "self," Life continues to bless us with new experiences and challenges that have the power to refine our self-concept. just as we think we're on to something, we're forced to see ourselves in a brand new light, and this is surely an opportunity for resurgence. but IF WE'RE NOT CLEAR ON WHO WE ARE AND who we ARE NOT, WE COULD EASILY FALL victim to THE MANY TRAPS THAT LIE ALONG OUR PATH. once trapped, we wind up spending time as someone we are not. either way, it's safe to say that there will always be some trial and error involved in this FILTERING PROCESS, and most of us will spend some time being someone other than our authentic selves.
and if we're really honest, this process CAN MAKE US FEEL ASHAMED OF OURSELVES, EVEN AFTER WE'VE cleared the trap.
another toxic relationship? breakup/divorce? financial struggle? rejection? cycle of depression? cycle of extreme weight loss/weight gain? superficial friendship?
SOMETIMES, OLD ISSUES PRESENT THEMSELVES IN NEW WAYS, JUST TO SHOW US THAT WE ARE YET TO ADDRESS THE ROOT OF OUR PROBLEMS.
and here's the worst part: instead of addressing that root, we become ashamed and even angry with ourselves for going through it at all. WE FEEL LIKE WE SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER, WE FEEL CONFUSED, LIKE WE'RE BACK TO SQUARE ONE, LIKE WE SHOULD BE BIGGER THAN WHATEVER COMES OUR WAY. EVEN AS WE CONTINUE ON OUR JOURNEYS, WE BEGIN WITH THE NEGATIVE SELF-TALK:
"HOW'D YOU MISS THAT?" "YOU'RE NOT AS SMART AS YOU THOUGHT," "YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE MORE CAREFUL," "you're never going to beat this," " YOU should have known BETTER."
and this negative self-talk perpetuates our negative self-concept (perhaps the root of the issue altogether): it convinces us that we're weak, that we're incapable, that we need to punish ourselves.
in my case, it convinced me that i was living a lie.
this platform has opened so many doors of opportunity for me. I've made so many new friendships by putting my life out there for people to connect with. I've rekindled old friendships in a new way, including the relationship i have with myself. all of these new experiences and connections have allowed me to see myself in a brighter light. i've been able to strengthen my relationship with my father indirectly; although his time on earth has passed, his wisdom, example and lessons will stay with me forever, and my writing has allowed me to access them in a new way. most importantly, i've been able to connect with god, who is helping me continue to find and walk in my purpose.
i'm so proud of this journey, and i want you to know how proud i am because i want you to be proud of yourself, too.
but what i'm not always so transparent about is how much god's purpose for me scares me. and if i'm claiming to be honest with you, i need you to see this side of me too. i am so, so scared to be who i know i'm supposed to be. sometimes i think this fear is the reason i fall into traps at all.
the truth is, having any kind of platform has always intimidated me. not because i'm afraid to be open, honest and vulnerable. somehow, i was never afraid of putting myself out there; it's actually the opposite. i recognize how many people i have the opportunity to influence with my words and sometimes i feel, well, less than qualified. some days i even believe the voice in my head that tries telling me it's all a lie.
i realize now that this is my fear speaking, that this is actually an old issue resurfacing in a brand new way.
when i first started teaching, every single second of every single day involved trial and error. i was 21 years old, and some of my students were 17. i was petrified. but my fears were so different than your average first-year teacher. i wasn't nervous to be in front of a classroom, i wasn't afraid that my students wouldn't respect me, i wasn't even insecure about my ability to get my students to excel academically. i knew i would rise to all of those occasions, because the stakes were too high and i cared too much about my students.
but that was exactly it: the stakes were too high, and i cared deeply about my students. i recognized how powerful my platform was, and it was beyond intimidating. i was literally modeling every day: how to be a good person, how to talk to others, how to be professional, how to overcome obstacles, how to work with others, etc. my students were coming to me with so much baggage that i wasn't sure i could carry. i felt so unqualified to be a role model to them. to be the mature adult that they needed me to be. i was a 21 year old girl going through her own issues, her own identity crisis, her own insecurities, her own toxic relationships, her own lack of self-worth, her own fixed mindsets, her own bad habits. i would wake up countless nights having anxiety-ridden dreams about my students. nightmares about me failing them. i was stressed to say the least, and i still have gray hairs to prove it.
still, every day, i got up in front of over 100 students and channeled the absolute best version of myself i could give them. i wasn't even ready to access those parts of me for myself, but i did it for them. every day, consistently, like a natural, because they deserved that and so much more. my students would surely be surprised to know that i definitely didn't have it as "together" as i made it seem.
but here's where the plot twists: instead of allowing my students to make me a better all around person, being forced to channel the most mature parts of myself by day made me feel like i needed to channel the least responsible parts of myself by night. i passed up on an invaluable opportunity to experience growth, and instead, i chose complacency. sure, i was a great teacher, but outside of class, i participated in behaviors that i wasn't even interested in at 16. my social circles reflected my regression, i stopped engaging with anything or anyone that required any kind of serious thought. i sought out temporary "exciting" experiences to drown out my long-withstanding feelings of emptiness. my family definitely took notice, and baba would often say "whatever you're searching for, you're not going to find it where you're looking."
the truth is, i don't even know what i was looking for.
looking back, i realize that i was trying to figure out who i was as a young professional with such a powerful platform, and, naturally, i was experiencing a lot of trial and error. but mostly error since i wasn't learning from my mistakes. i was trying to figure out who i was, but i didn't decide on who i was not. and though this led me into many traps for many years, i'm not angry with myself at all. during that time, i needed to love myself more. i needed to allow my students to make me a better person, for them, but for me first. i needed to understand that sometimes, you never feel ready. sometimes you just have to get ready. and that's where i am today. i want to get ready, and stay there.
i don't think i will ever feel "ready" to have a deep influence on other people. the thought of young women watching me deeply scares me, but the stakes are too high, and i care too much about what i'm doing, so as i have done before, i'll rise to the occasion.
but what about me? will i allow this platform to make me the most mature, responsible version of myself,
or will i regress by night?
admittedly, i've already fallen into my fair share of traps on this blogging journey. a bit after my blog started gaining traction, i started feeling overwhelming pressure to look like i live a "perfect" life. to have my hair and makeup done at all times, to look "fly" for my pictures. to make sure the angles, filters, captions, etc. were all on point. i told myself that this obsession was just a part of blogging. i told myself that i was always into fashion and aesthetics. that i needed to keep up with my image to ensure i'm representing my brand in the best way possible. but honestly, being someone you're not is not only exhausting work, it's unforgiving. you will never feel like you're enough, and your lies will surface eventually.
I KNOW THAT FEELING ALL TOO WELL.
SOMETIMES, OLD ISSUES PRESENT THEMSELVES IN NEW WAYS, JUST TO SHOW US THAT WE CAN GET TO THE ROOT OF THEM, ONCE AND FOR ALL.
i can honestly say i pour my heart out in these blog posts. my writing is so authentically "me." but i want my entire brand to be authentically "me" too.
I WANT TO USE MY PLATFORM IN ALL THE RIGHT WAYS.
i don't have all of the answers, and probably never will, but i know that I want to benefit from the same refined version of myself that i present to you through my words. this time, i have to do the right thing for me first, before it could ever be for you, too.
SO, i'm going to start by waging a war against who i am not.
i am realizing that in order to get rid of old, unhealthy thought patterns, i will need to fight them tooth and nail, & face my fears head on. so, in order to truly rise to the challenge, i've decided on the following acts of resistance against who i am not:
- i will couple each ig pic with a piece of poetry; if that's not enough to clear the trap, i might mess around and decide to make my whole account a poetry account
- i will continue going make-up free regardless who i'm seeing or where i'm going until i can feel equally comfortable without it
- i will not purchase one garment of clothing until i stop associating it with a "look" or image i'm going for
- i will not engage with anyone out of feelings of dependence, insecurity or neediness
- for those people from whom i've chosen to distance myself for self-preservation purposes, i'll love them from afar and disengage entirely with their life happenings
- for every new experience/opportunity, i will ask myself: "is this me?" if i am unable to give myself a clear "yes," i will not engage with it
- i will continue to read and consume spiritually nourishing texts and media to continue connecting to god and my purpose
- i will be cleansing my mind, body and spirit until further notice in order to kickstart this longer-term spiritual journey
i know that you can figure out who you're not, too.
if you want to break old thought patterns, identifying and defeating who you're not is even more vital than trying to discover who you are. our most unhealthy, most toxic and self-sabotaging thought patterns rely on us not having an understanding of who we are not. they thrive in this ambiguity. this insecure concept of self. and when you try to call them out, those things that you are not will latch on even tighter, disguising themselves as parts of you.
but understand that they were never meant to be there, they can only stay if you let them. forgive yourself for allowing them in, and work on getting rid of them.
I HOPE YOU WILL JOIN ME IN WAGING WAR AGAINST WHO YOU ARE NOT, AND COMING OUT A VICTORIOUS, AUTHENTIC YOU.