“So come on let it go
Just let it be
Why don’t you be you
And I’ll be me?”
James Bay, Let It Go
We are all tied up in knots.
We are all unraveling.
We are all becoming.
* * * *
When I was in fifth grade my mother took me shoe shopping.
I remember finding the perfect pair. They were a deep foggy blue, a color I adored. They were shiny and had a pretty design on the top. I was so excited. They felt like me.
I skipped into school the next day, in my beautiful blue shoes.
Within minutes of my arrival, two girls walked up to me and asked:
“Who forced you to wear those ugly shoes?!” They walked away laughing.
I stood there, in my beautiful shoes, their words reflecting notions I was just beginning to learn:
I can’t be me. I must conform. I must knot myself up in others’ opinions and expectations.
I was unbecoming…
* * * *
When I first started working as a lawyer, I worked my tail off. Never leaving the office.
Dinner at my desk, every single night. People pleasing till the ends of the earth. They loved me.
As the years went on and I grew more in touch with my soul, I began to prioritize myself. My interests. My time. My dreams.
The more I realized I wasn’t living true to myself, the more my people pleasing dwindled, as did their love.
The more I explored who I really was underneath the fancy suits I found so uncomfortable, the more my carefully crafted world of meeting others’ expectations unfolded.
I slowly began untying all the knots I had bound myself up in.
I was unraveling… and I was becoming.
* * * *
I used to exercise daily. Waking up early for kick-boxing classes. Always running. The more sweat and speed, the more freedom I felt.
Freedom from my anxieties. Freedom from my limiting thoughts. Freedom from my easily frayed nerves.
Once I became a mama I more or less said goodbye to exercise. There was no time. I had no energy. They needed me.
And the battle against my nerves grew.
Both kids were out of the house one day. I opened my computer and froze. So many emails and to-dos, no idea where to begin. I had freedom but I was trapped in anxiety.
I realized that yet again I had tied myself into knots and betrayed my needs. This time I was wearing the suit of a self-sacrificing mama who failed to take care of herself in honor of her children. As if that made sense.
I closed the computer and put on my running shoes. I was going to chase down my freedom.
I was going to honor the simple needs of my soul and all of who I am.
* * * *
As we walk through the world we receive so many messages. Messages asking us to conform. To perform. To please.
Those messages sink in deep for sensitive souls, especially when we’re young and impressionable. We hurt easily. We want to make others happy. We prioritize other’s needs over our own.
Slowly but surely we lose parts of who we are. We get knotted up into people’s expectations and demands on who we “should” be, rather than learning and fostering our natural strengths.
If you feel you’ve lost parts of who you are along your way in life, ask yourself these questions:
In what ways have you changed yourself to gain acceptance?
As sensitive souls we are constantly hit with messages asking us to reign ourselves in. Stop being so sensitive, so emotional. Toughen up. So we learn from an early age to put on an act to gain acceptance.
We learn to stay quiet, to not cause trouble, to just focus on making others happy. And we lose parts of ourselves in the process.
The more aware we are of how we change ourselves to fit other’s needs, the more we can make efforts to stop it, so we can live a more authentic life.
In what ways are you living according to other people’s expectations?
When I became a corporate lawyer, I was completely out of touch with who I really was and what my real strengths were. I was simply following a path of high expectations, trying to reach a certain status to prove my worth. And while those met expectations felt wonderful for awhile, they eventually ate away at my soul.
The more I examined why I was doing what I was doing, the more I realized I was following other people’s desires, not my own. Realizing this helped me to change it.
What are your most important values in life and work?
The more I examined my role as a corporate lawyer, the more I realized that it did not reflect my values. I wanted to be of service. I wanted to impact the world in some small way.
I’ve always understood the fragility of life, how little time we have on this planet, I didn’t want to waste it on fancy things. I wanted to leave a small mark that healed at least one broken soul, and I eventually knew I wasn’t going to do that working 80 hours a week on high end contracts in a fancy suit.
The more we understand our values, the more our actions begin to align with them.
If you put aside the world’s expectations, what would you do more of?
For me, I began exploring whatever interested me. I started volunteering every weekend at a dog shelter. I took classes that explored my creative side, like photography. Eventually, I began writing.
With each new thing I did, something clicked. I discovered parts of me that were always there, tucked away deep, waiting to be seen.
Make a list of all the things that interest you. Find ways to incorporate them into your life, you never know where they will lead you.
How can you honor your needs more fully?
Shifting to a more authentic life is not something that happens over night, it can take years. But the more aware you are of what your values and needs are, the more you’ll take actions that align with your soul.
Allow yourself to dream. Find role models who inspire you. Explore the things you enjoy. Create a vision for your life. What would you be doing everyday in that vision?
Give yourself permission to be you. Your potential is endless. And you don’t need to change who you are to realize it.
The world will wrap you up in expectations. It’s up to you to unravel them. To find and honor who you truly are, the person who’s been there all along, waiting to be fully seen.
With each knot you untie, you step into a more authentic life.
What knots have you gotten tied up in?
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