A few days ago, I had a dimly lit and, admittedly, hazy conversation with an ex. During which, he did something I’ve noticed a lot of men do in the many, many (many) break-up conversations I have had. He told me who I am and what I want. Something he had miraculously figured out in the very short period of time we spent together and, based on that foundation, rock solid in his mind, pretty flimsy in my own, he built a wall, shut me out and shut down our relationship.
I get this so often. I think we all do. Our world is so noisy. Others have ideas about who we are and, often, they feel the need to share them with us. Sometimes these ideas can be insightful and helpful, other times, they can be completely off base and, if you’re not careful, they can shape your entire being.
I’ve been so susceptible to this noise for most of my life. I can be quiet at first, I don’t love being the center of attention, I’m hesitant to break rules, I’m smart, I work hard and I’ve always done well at school. So people told me I was a ‘good girl’. Well ‘good girls’ date ‘nice boys’ so I opted for clean-shaven, suit-sporting, beer-drinking young professionals with comb overs and conventional jobs. (Who, by the way, despite all the appearance of being so, are, often, not quite so ‘nice’. Have you read Pride & Preudice?)
Meanwhile, I pursued my own conventional career in pencil skirts, blouses, blazers and a people-pleasing smile. Then I started to have panic attacks and I stopped eating and sleeping. It was super. Getting a Masters from a top Canadian school is hard and stressful, it’s true, but that was only half the problem.
The rest of the issue stemmed from my complete disconnection from important parts of myself. Aspects of myself I disconnected from, in large part, because they didn’t really align with the way people saw me. They were incompatible with the decisions I had made and the path I had chosen but ignoring them was sucking the life out of me. Lots of people told me that I was bright, that I was serious, that I was responsible and hard-working but no one really ever told me that I was creative.
Luckily, my anxiety, both a friend and a foe, forced me to make a change. I had to dig deep to drown out the noise – it took me about a year of introspection to tune out others and find my own voice. Because you’re not just what people tell you you are. You’re what you know yourself to be and so much stems from knowing yourself; your creativity, your happiness, your success even your fashion sense. I don’t know everything about myself yet but I uncover a little more everyday.
Today, I’m pursuing a creative career. I spend my days merchandising, styling, writing and collaborating with like-minded people. I’m striving primarily to be happy and strongly believe that success will stem organically from there.
Today, I like to date men who are more alternative than conventional, men who open my mind to new ways of thinking and seeing the world, who have had different experiences than the ones I have had. I care very little about whether or not they fit the mold of the man other people envision me with.
Today, I avoid structured and restrictive clothing. I love sneakers, oversized plaid, cozy sweaters, cut-offs, kimonos, bikinis and tousled bed-head. I wear clothes that make me feel comfortable and free.
Today, I know myself…
… so don’t try and tell me who I am ;)