It’s been a while, I know. I never abandoned this blog, but I’ll admit that it has been on the back burner for months now.
Isn’t it funny how the things that you love and the things that are most fulfilling for you are the first things to go when you’re not in a good place? The past few months have been challenging for me, and I haven’t treated myself the best. Under stress, I become very aware of others’ expectations, and the best way I can protect myself is to just shut down. I close myself off from the world, even the people I’m closest to.
I feel that I have made a lot of missteps since the spring, and I want to forgive myself. But here’s the thing: not a single one of my mistakes was because I didn’t follow what others expected of me.
My Experience with the Expectations of Others
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’re familiar with what I consider the biggest mistake I’ve ever made and how that mistake was undeniably married to the idea that I need to live up to others’ expectations of me. How dare I disappoint someone else? How dare I inconvenience them by doing something for myself?
Letting those kinds of thoughts rule your mindset is a bigger mistake than doing things for yourself. When you let people’s disappointment with your self-care decisions take the wheel, you invite toxicity into your life. I’ve been there, and I’ve been slowly working myself out of the mire that that brings about.
When I say mire, I really mean it. Things get really murky when you’re living in that headspace. If you lose your sense of self-worth, you really don’t have much to build off of. You can’t move forward because your feet are stuck in mud that someone else made. But you handed them the hose! You stood there, and you said, “Here. Take it. What else can I do?”
Let’s stand in that space for a second. Have you ever been there?
You’re in a pool of muck that used to be the path you walked on. Instead of moving at a steady pace, every attempt at a step is met with a strong suction that wants to keep you exactly where you are. The longer you stay there and struggle, the more you let the guilt in. All you see is the mud. You’ve forgotten what the path looked like before, and you’re unsure of how to get out.
And that’s exactly where I’ve been a few times before. I kept making decisions to oblige others and sit in their mud. I ignored the direction I felt drawn towards and tried to quiet those desires because I thought that they were too much to ask for.
They weren’t. They weren’t too much. They were my next step, and because I hesitated and questioned whether I knew what was best for me, I let pressure from others take control.
What I “Should” Forgive
I said I want to forgive myself for a lot of things in this past season of confusion. I want to bring my mistakes to light, but I also want to highlight the things that I know weren’t mistakes.
Here’s a list of what my transgressions “should” be:
• Leaving the blog quiet for so many months.
• Taking time away from my Instagram account just as I was starting to really grow my followers.
• Resisting social interaction in exchange for withdrawal.
• Quitting my full-time job without another one lined up.
I won’t forgive myself for these things because they weren’t mistakes. Every single one of these things allowed me to clear the mud on my path and finally get in touch with what is right for me.
What I’m Actually Forgiving Myself For
That’s not to say I was without error in these past few months.
Here are the things I feel were truly mistakes:
• Not recognizing that the blog, and writing in general, is an imperative tool for maintaining my mental health and sense of self.
• Shying away from the social media platform that has brought me so much inspiration and exposed me to a creative way of living that I thought was impossible.
• Not turning to my loved ones for the inspiration I know they can and would love to provide for me.
• Thinking I was a brat for wanting to live a flexible life that feeds my creative soul. Wondering what others would think if I broke with tradition. Waiting too damn long to go after what I want.
Here’s the Real News
You may have noticed that one of the things I listed is a pretty big life update. August 30th was my last day at my job. It was time for a change, and so I’m going to try something different for a while. I’m going to try working for myself, but really, I’m leaving myself completely open to what comes my way.
There’s one particular episode of the Don’t Keep Your Day Job podcast (hosted by Cathy Heller) that I really love. In this episode, guest Sarah Blondin (author and host of the podcast Live Awake) urges you to “vote for your soul.” Do what feeds you as a being contributing to this world. Bring fulfillment into your life, not just obligation.
For too long, I’ve been doing things because they’re what I felt I should do, and I’ve been ignoring some of the qualities and desires that make me who I am. Now, I’m plunging into crafting a lifestyle that allows me to do work that is more fulfilling to me while leaving time to pursue my creative interests. I’m happiest when I’m creating, so the fact that I went so many months without doing the things I love is something I need to forgive myself for. What’s my ultimate act of forgiveness? Acknowledging and prioritizing these needs.