I was hoping, at the very least for her to tell me how to stop feeling like a stranger in my own life, an issue that little did I know, would haunt me for years to come. The very first day that I spoke with Mrs. R, she gave me a mantra. After discussing my feelings of inadequacy due to my boyfriend at the time (who was 10 years older than me) and cheating on me constantly, she asked me to repeat after her;
“I am lovable, and loving, and deserve to be loved by a man who loves only me.”
I looked at her cockeyed.
She insisted that I repeat it. I did. Twenty times. She then told me that I had to write this mantra over and over, 100 times, and turn it into her the next day. She also asked me to focus on how it made me feel to say this.
She told me to think about the things that make me doubt that statement, and keep those in mind when I write it.
Whatever, lady. I came here for help, not homework. Despite my negative attitude and lack of expectations, I did it. About halfway through, something miraculous happened.
I began to believe it.
This says a lot for someone who had zero self-confidence. Something clicked and made me realize that no matter what anyone did to me, said about me, or thought about me, I was who I was, and there are people out there who this will be good enough for. Wasting time with people who don’t respect you, understand you, or allow you to be YOU is a waste of your time and theirs.
I wasn’t cured in that moment. This was still Freshman year. and I was still depressed, and had a very serious life decision (literally) ahead of me.
I would run into another issue, that still affects me now; trying to be myself with people who I care about but don’t agree with my personal beliefs or actions.
I dated a man for a year and a half who I loved and thought was ‘the one’. The problem? My writing, my political preferences, and friend selections, among other things–weren’t the same as his. The first time I introduced him to one of my best friends, my best friend vetoed him immediately.
“He’s not for you, Katie. He’s too different. He doesn’t appreciate who you are so much as he wants to change you.”
I ignored it, and dated the man who continually wanted me, as long as I wanted the same things that he wanted. The man who believed in me as long as I believed in the same things he did. I started to be okay with changing myself, pretending to be something I wasn’t, as long as it meant he would love me.
Fact: He loved me…but only IF [insert stipulation here].
Translation: He didn’t love me. He loved who he wanted me to be.
Inevitably we broke up. It was one of the most difficult experiences of my entire life, because when we broke up, I had become so used to being whoever he wanted me to be, that I had no idea who I was.
After months and months of a deep depression, I finally went back to basics. Back to freshman year of high school with Mrs. R.
“I am lovable and lovable, and deserve to be loved by a man who loves only me.”
“I am who I am.” Whatever I was feeling was okay, because they were my feelings. Whatever I believed was okay, because they were my beliefs. I owned the words “My” and “Mine” and made them very personal. I took pride in saying things that began with “My” or “Mine.” Even now, before I say anything about myself and my personal stance, I rethink it before I say it.
I ask myself “Is this who I am? Or am I just saying it to be accepted? Believe in what you’re saying, and be honest.”
I literally sat down and got real with myself. With pen and paper in hand, I wrote down who I was, beginning with my name, and went through each area of my life that had meaning. From family values, to the way I like my steak cooked, I wrote it down. I posted different facts about me all over my house. Some on my refrigerator, a few on my my bathroom mirror, and others on my front door. In a world that is constantly telling us what to do, or who to be, it’s important to remind ourselves of the only person we ‘should’ be.
The person we’re best at being – ourselves.
“I am who I am, I’ve been through what I’ve been through, and these things make up the person that I am, which is wonderful.”
Being myself, no matter who it is, has been a difficult lesson, but most rewarding. How do you learn it? Find out who you are, and be who you are, no matter what. Don’t be ashamed of your beliefs, preferences, or views. They are yours, YOU are yours.
Find out who you are, and own it.
And if you’d like to claim it here in the comments, who am I to stop you?