When your life is not yours

For much too long I’ve been trying to convince myself that I am this person that I’m not. And not in a trying-to-be-someone-else-because-I’m-ashamed-of-who-I-am kind of way but more of a oh-this-isn’t-me-but-it’s-kind-of-ok-maybe-if-I-keep-this-charade-up-it’ll-feel-more-natural.

Well folks, I’m here to tell you that it does. not. work.

I was almost 7 months into a job that I realized I didn’t like after the first month, I was taking the backseat in a lot of situations that I knew I could and should be leading, I was not completing tasks (umm, graduate school) because they became challenging even though I was fully capable, and I was agreeing to do things for people that I really didn’t want to do just because I didn’t want to say no. All of these little choices began to weigh me down and I felt very little like myself.

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of doing something because it pays the bills, you’re kind of good at it, it keeps everyone else happy, and so you won’t rock the boat as opposed to doing it because you love it, because it allows your natural abilities to flourish, and because it pushes you to grow. Initially, these choices to “not do” may not seem like a big deal and in the short term they may not be but soon you’ll finding yourself making more and more of these compromises until eventually one day you realize that you don’t know who you are anymore and you feel like you’re living a life that is not your own. The life may be good, might even be really good, but it’s not the right life for you and it will chip away at you causing you to feel emptier and emptier as time goes by.

I was talking about this to a friend earlier and she joked about how she “self medicates” with alcohol and weed. And for a time – don’t try this at home, kids – I’d take a shot or two before going in to work at the job that I hated but that’s not the solution. To quote myself:

“It’s better to do what makes you happy and then you can drink for pleasure and not necessity.”

I didn’t allow myself to come to a point where alcohol was a necessity. However I did find myself overindulging in some things to my detriment (*cough* Netflix) because I thought that I was owed any and all things that brought me happiness in the midst of all the stress and misery I was experiencing by not being true to myself. I lost a lot of time and money trying to put a band-aid over issues that were more like gaping wounds and I can never get that time or money back.

Luckily, I had sense enough to keep some things in my life that kept me grounded: really amazing friends, an outlet where I could talk about the dissonance I was experiencing, lots of Netflix, and continuing to go to places and do things that allowed me to be myself and where who I am is valued, affirmed and developed.

It’s better to just go for what you know and be true to who you are in the first place. It’s ok if you stumble into a situation that throws you for a loop or causes you to examine certain aspects of yourself but if it leads you to going against the very core of who you are and causes you to lose yourself and be miserable and depressed it’s ok to quit or change course. The feeling of letting go and returning to yourself is so much more important than quitting your job, a little temporary tension, or ending a relationship.

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