This above all:
To thine own self be true,And it must follow, as the night the day,Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Great advice from a man who died in 1616, but what does this quote really mean? When or how, do you know who you really are? How do you learn to be true to yourself? Like peeling the layers of an onion or artichoke, (whatever else that peels), you must go through many layers until you get to the "heart" of who you are. Each layer is more and more succulent. Outer layers of our identity put us in categories relative to other humans. You may identify yourself with a race, gender, job, political preference, sexual preference, and so on. Labels were placed on us at birth or by circumstance, all of which inform our point of view. They are simply boxes of relative identification, none of them are who we actually are.
When you live on the outermost layer of your identity, the less you are in touch with your inner deeper self. The world we now survive in, reality tv and media impressions seek out to influence our behaviours and thoughts. If an alien was to tap into our brains, they would get the impression that we are only competing to be the top of the mountain, that we are superficial, selfish, greedy and judgemental. That is not the social commentary I want to be known as, so we need to find our true selves. The more you look outside of yourself, to create a sense of oneself, the bigger the distance we need to go to get on track. If you are always spending your time and attention to be something or someone other than ourselves, how can you truly know who you are? Craving the approval of others is not going to benefit this journey so you need to stop outside influences now.
I have been exploring profound questions of my human existence, the "who am I?", being on the top of my list. I guess turning half a century old will do that do a woman! Many go down this path, many taking the more religious approach, I am more the science/spiritual type. Our truest life purpose hasbecome seeking answers to the truly deep questions of life. We then live in accordance to what we find to be true. Most of this deep thinking made my head hurt but I persevered into the dark hole in my mind. I knew I had to dig deep, to fight the anxiety and depressive thoughts, to turn on that inner light, to awaken myself. I am still going through the process but each day, I find I am listening to myself more. I am guiding my own path instead of what may be expected of me from society. My anxiety tries desperately to twist my confidence and push me towards the judgmental side of my being. I have been cautiously pushing back, hard, with great results. I have also had to learn the difference between my ego or lack of, and the voice of my authentic self. When I say "voices", I don't mean that I have multiple personalities, or maybe I do and I have not met them yet! I have never really had an ego as my self-esteem has always been low, I just hide it better than most. I am training my mind to overcome the low self-esteem and listen to the real me. The strong ass warrior queen that loves life and wants to kick it in the balls while laughing.
When I am making a choice that creates an awareness of affirmation inside of me, I know I am being authentic. I recognize the lack of awareness too now. Recently I decided that I needed to get out more, be sociable, be around people. I stopped saying no to invites and pushed hard to go outside my walls. Ultimately, I have been happier and less anxious in my kingdom. I hear myself, my true self, who loves life but was being held back by fear and of course the beast, anxiety. I allow myself days of retreating to the solace of my cave so I can reboot. I use my inner feedback system to know when I can and cannot do something. I mentally record what triggers the beast and if I cannot avoid that situation, I carefully tread through it. I try hard not to fight against myself too much or I find myself feeling disconnected and irritable. I am far more peaceful since my internal GPS tells me where the truth is in my brain.
I am me. I am learning to be rooted in my deepest values and own truth. I want a life that is a true reflection of them, being true to my own thoughts, actions and words. I have to be willing to sacrifice relationships or circumstances that may violate my truth. I will not answer to someone else's belief system nor will I expect someone to adapt to mine. If I find a situation that requires me to not be myself, I will no longer be the chameleon who adapts. I will be me, just me. I will walk my own path, alone or with others, but I will walk it, not avoid it. This will not mean I will live this amazing charmed life, as sorrow runs along beside happiness in everyone's life, regardless. I just now, realize that I have the wisdom knowing who I am, to guide me.
I will now recognize the emptiness in material things and lessen the load by only keeping what I truly love. What I truly need and feel a connection to. I guess my son better start talking to me more, wink wink!
I will now recognize I want to create experiences with meaning in my life and will be open to explore them.
I will listen to people, truly hear them. Not be distracted by the television, laptop or phone. This is harder than I thought but practice will help.
Unapologetically, I will express my thoughts, my views and my feelings, without of course being cruel as I can't turn that part off in me!
I will no longer put myself on the back burner to appease others. I am now the showrunner, my name is in the lights babe!
I will learn to accept and acknowledge my own faults and learn from them. There is always room for improvement.
I will learn to take responsibility for my own actions even though it was clearly "their" fault, oops, ok, I am a work in progress.
I will take time, each night to clear my mind of clutter and be me. I have found meditational videos on Youtube have helped guide me to do this. Meditation has helped with my sleep patterns as well.
The more I try the less friction and antagonism I create in my life. I don't think I will ever be perfect honouring my own truth, but I will strive to focus on me. It is a self-editing process that I have to do more and more of to hold myself accountable. I have made the commitment to live my best life, according to myself. I continue to practice listening to my inner being, that inner bitch who was hibernating. That bitch needs to own up to herself and kick the universe in the arse! The beast will no longer be the leader of my thoughts. There is a new sheriff in town!!
Winter brings out depression in the happiest of people. Anxiety loves to attack especially hard in the colder months when you are trapped indoors for fear of freezing off your skin, literally. The snow is blowing hard against your windows and you refuse to enter winter wonderland until you safely walk down your front steps without doing a Bambi impersonation. New Year's has come and gone with many being happy to say good riddance to another year and hello to a fresh new one. So many of us start off the new year with doubt and uncertainty. Dreadful changes do not always mean you have changed too. You need to learn to cope regardless.
I started off 2018, with some new friends and most of all, as you may know, I turned 50. I also decided to change my path slightly so I can emerge out of my rut before it swallows me whole. I still have the same goals, now I just know where I have to go to achieve them and with who. I don't make resolutions anymore, but instead, I make promises to myself, which I keep close to my heart. Not everyone needs to know my life's path or even wants to know. I understand that friends and family are a fantastic cure to get out of any slump, but books are very beneficial to grow and heal. You are able to dive into a world where problems don't exist. You can learn from the authors or characters wise inspiring words. So whatever is your rut reason, a horrible break up or loss of friendship, loss of a job or even a work-related dilemma, you should know are not alone in feeling this way. This new year will be a chance to start fresh, a clean slate. Focus on yourself, reflect and begin to feel better.
Now I need you to grab a cozy fluffy warm blanket and grab one of the following books, as each one has a unique way of helping anyone with a rut of any kind!
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie BroshThis book will crack you up and may make you pee your pants with laughter! Lots of humorous comics, relatable themes and anecdotal stories that are rib breaking hilarious. The author makes you remember what it was like to have childlike wonder throughout the book. Her memoir will have you giggling even though she tackles some serious subjects including anxiety and depression.
The Singles by Meredith GoldsteinI have yet to experience this, but have you ever attended a wedding solo? Perhaps you have done this a few times even? Have you always been the bridesmaid, in that horrid gown, tacky shoes? Does your rut of yesteryear have anything to do with a perpetually single lifestyle, then read this book! You'll feel better when you are laughing at a character that you identify with.
Bridget Jone's Diary by Helen Fielding
I am sure most of you have seen the movie, but the book will make you laugh more! Bridget Jone's and her granny underwear are on a doomed journey to find self-improvement. Her goals mixed with her ambition humorously fail beyond all expectations. If you can relate to her and her daily crazy antics, you will feel better about yourself knowing someone else has been there, done that. I think of her as an inspirational saviour for the majority of females!
What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self
Editor Ellyn Spragins fills the pages with an amazing collection of letters written by women who are inspirational. Maya Angelou, Olympia Dukakis, Nora Roberts and Macy Gray are just a few that open up in this book. You will be reminded why the life you are living along with the difficulties at this moment are so important. You will realize it is all part of a process. You will begin to relate suddenly to these letters as you too have been "there". This book will let you see that even the most successful women, made similar mistakes as you. They too stumbled but they got back up as you can too.
The Myths of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky
This book is better than Myth Busters. It really does target the idea of the happiness society has created, you know, the perfect marriage, 2.5 kids, money, the dream employment. WHO the hell has 2.5 kids besides a bad magician? The myth, of course, is being told that illness, staying single, no kids, financial crisis is FAILURE. As we headed into adulthood, of course, we felt like failures with those expectations. Thanks, society, you bunch of asswipes. If your rut is literally being or feeling lost in life and you can't fathom how to find happiness, you will not regret reading this book.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
I saved this gem for last as I am in love with Jenny Lawson. She has inspired me more than any other author and I relate to her. I am pretty sure we are blood sisters. She is seriously amusing with her "sailor" mouth and her honesty is touching. I think so many of us, especially those who fight the beast will see yourself in her, and you will appreciate your own story that much more. Your status is only temporary as in life nothing really is permanent. You too, one day, will look back on your life and laugh or maybe just pretend it never happened. Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things, is her second book with equally funny, witty, anxiety-ridden laughter filled pages. I cherish these books and will not loan them out, as they are sacred to me.
I hope that you find a relatable book within the ones I have shared as I love to read and normally share my books, just not my Jenny Lawson ones! I will add another list of books to read soon as I think books can be the friend you need who is always there, ready to be picked up and will allow you to laugh, cry and even be put on hold. Books are a lifeline so many of us require.
50 does not sound right to me. I am 50. I aged 50. Level stage 50, ok that I can say. Holy shit, I am 50. That is 50% of 100. Holy shit, I am half a century. I am five decades, sounds better. I swore up and down that I would never ever let aging bother me. I was not bothered by 25, 30, 35 or even 40. I giggled when people complained about "getting old". I had a few friends recently turn 40, and I told them not to worry about aging as it is only a number. Then I got close to becoming 50 years old, really close. I started to have anxiety, depression, sleepless nights and plain old fear. I have obviously struggled with anxiety but not this kind of depression before, so it was very unsettling to me. With Xmas and New Years leading the way to my birthday, it increased. Add some freezing temperatures and horrible weather, to keep me inside and I was suddenly a mess. I began to feel overwhelmed with fear of losing friends, now that I was aging. I thought why would anyone want to hang out with an old lady getting dusty. I began to question all my life choices, I mean, ALL MY LIFE choices. I pretty much backtracked to the early 1980's. Yes, see, I am old! I actually remember the 80's, well most of it. Why did I not just go to university? Why did I not finish all my night school? Why did I spend so much money on useless things? Why did I get a perm? Why did I not go back to work after I had my first child? Why did I not go back to work after I had my second child? Why did I not go back to work or school when my kids were in full-time school? Why? Why? Why? Shoulda, coulda, but didn't. I dwelled deeply into my past not necessarily great decisions. I wallowed in my grief of mistakes. I deepened my depression thinking of all the what-ifs in my life. Anyone, that fights the beast, anxiety, will have many what-ifs. I went through the time machine of my mind and bounced back to present day.
The day after my fiftieth birthday, I woke up. The air still reached my lungs, my blood still pumped in my veins and I was fifty. I thought hard about why I was so devastated with aging this year, I knew that a lot had to do with my brother never reaching his big five-o! It was an age I always teased him about becoming. He died in his 49th year, unfair how life is. I have feared not making it to my day. The fear helped develop all the depression. Suddenly, I began to feel stronger. I began to think clearly. I made myself remember how far I have come and how hard I struggled to get where I am. I am proud of myself and I don't need anyone else to be. My opinion of myself is the only opinion that I need to validate. If I love myself, the opinions of sheep shall never matter. What other people think of me, is none of my business! Right then, I knew, I must change my way of thinking. I had to become my best friend. My own advocate. My best me. Loving yourself is hard as we have been programmed especially as women, to care and love for everyone else. I habitually put almost everyone ahead of myself. I think fifty years of doing that is adequate so I can take care of me now. If I can fight the beast and survive hot flashes with night sweats, raising two kids on my own, multiple setbacks, and deaths of many that I have loved, the loss of friendships for unknown reasons, I can surely learn to put myself on the front burner! Screw the way society thinks I should be, especially now that I am 50. I will not cut my hair short, nor stop wearing flip-flops and shorts above my knees. I will not start to shop at Northern Reflections or Coldwater Creek for my clothes. I will not start to behave. I will, however, be stronger. I will be bolder. I will not allow anyone, anyone at all, to hurt me. I will be the warrior I know I have always been.
Here are some of the bonuses of turning 50.
* Get out of unwanted tasks by saying "I am far too old". When I was a wee young human of say, 40, or less, someone would ask me to give up my nap time for some worthy cause or to go to the gym. I can now just say, I don't do that anymore. I am too old. For the record, I didn't go to the gym in my forties or thirties or twenties. Most will believe this as an excuse as long as they are younger than you, as they have no idea that you could actually run circles around them. Do not say this to someone older, as they will tell you that you are full of shit.
*I will now start to get carded again! Ok ok, so it will be to ask if I am eligible for a senior discount, but hell, pretty freaking sweet! If I can get that overnight cream for 10 % less, I will wear a bonnet!
*I can begin cultivating my quirkiness. Before 5o, you hear, "She should probably be on meds.",but after 50, you hear, "Isn't she amazingly unique?"I plan to use this to my advantage, to really let my creativity flow. I will stick to the tamer side of weird for right now, as suddenly hoarding and collecting cats, will make me seem like I am batshit crazy. I may want to come clean, I am on medication and I have two cats and perhaps hoard a bit. We will just keep that on the down-low for now, ok?
* Apparently, once you turn 50, you acquire an invisibility cloak. I have been becoming invisible to the opposite sex now for some time, so I am prepared. The incredible flip side of this, is now I can saunter into the grocery store looking the death is upon me, total zombie and confidently know no one will notice. Score!
* I can finally decide what I want to be when I grow up and how I want to spend my days. Nights will be reserved for my cats. I want to write. Blog. I have worked within my home for 22 years, so now I think I want to work outside of it. I might even decide I should be wearing a tiara and combat boots, but I need to ask the cats first their opinion.
* I now seem smart to those younger than me. I am the fountain of wisdom, mostly because I am old. I also have not yet, lived in a box under the highway pass so I must contain some valuable insights on life. I may spout out sage advice, you know the kind your parents gave you when you were young, but you ignored because you were stupid. Don't actually admit to doing anything that you are advising against because it will damage your street cred. Plus being chased by a screaming crowd carrying pitchforks and signs with hypocrite over your picture is embarrassing at any age. Plus, I did not inhale.
* When someone says, you are stubborn or set in your ways, just laugh and tell them you are just now confident in your views and opinions. It is also just too exhausting to change my position on some views, as it would require a level of interest and exertion of energy beyond what I am willing to invest. I will stand up for the underdog still though and fight with Al Gore about global warming as anyone who has seen a sad skinny polar bear would do. I can also, say I think that global warming is a plot by the Illuminati to take over the world and watch you go apeshit just for fun. I am older now, I require different levels of excitement.
* I can now stop sweating the small stuff and stop petting the sweaty stuff. Pretty soon, my son will be off to college so I can not make dinner. Ok, maybe I don't make dinner all the time now, but skip the dishes is a real thing. It is this era's tv dinners. If I am late, I am late. If I am early, I am early. I don't care. If I have a pimple, I have a pimple. That is a lie, I will part my hair over that treacherous new planet. If my dinner, that I finally made, burns, oh well. See above why I don't care.
I am now starting to see that turning 50, getting older, is not as bad as I first thought. I can make my life they way I want to make it. I can be me. I can kick ass as I have no one to answer to but me. I am going to live my life as the adventure it is meant to be lived. As with age comes wisdom, or bullshit it until they think you are making sense!